U.S. Presidents as Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook

By Halford Ryan | Go to book overview

for office. Unfortunately, Carter's strategy had some serious pitfalls. First, viewers expected a give-and-take debate: Reagan attacked and defended, whereas Carter only attacked, which helped to reinforce Reagan's portrayal of Carter as mean-spirited. Second, government-by-listing, which, as we have seen, was a favorite rhetorical device that had little persuasive efficacy in Carter's other speaking situations, did not work especially well in the debate. And third, Reagan did not make any serious mistakes, which enervated the third leg of Carter's strategy. In the end, as Ritter and Henry determined, Carter's oratorical performance did not find, whereas Reagan's did, the available means of persuasion: "Reagan won the debate because he executed an effective debating strategy that combined sustained argumentation with an appealing style of presentation. Carter lost the debate because his debate strategy was fatally flawed. It required Carter to attack without arguing, to list points without developing them fully, and to hope that Ronald Reagan would defeat himself."


CONCLUSION

Quintilian held that the exemplar of an orator is the good person speaking well. His ethics never really at issue, as it was with previous and later tenants of the White House, Carter was a good man, but one who spoke only reasonably well. From Quintilian's perspective, Carter fared rather well, as Quintilian stressed the goodness of the orator, at which Carter excelled, over speaking well, which characterizes the presidents immediately before and after Carter.


RHETORICAL SOURCES

Archival Materials

The Jimmy Carter Library, Atlanta, Georgia, contains the primary research materials for Carter's presidential oratory. The White House Central Files contain a category on Speeches, and the Staff Office Files has a category on Presidential Speechwriters, which are the primary places for drafts and texts of speeches. The Library has an indexing system that aids in locating specific documents. Audiovisual materials include photographs and videotapes of Carter's speeches and addresses. The Library holds oral histories of leading figures in Carter's administration, as well as additional oral history interviews conducted by the White Burkett Miller Center Jimmy Carter Project.

Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States. (PPP). 8 Vols. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1977- 1981.


Rhetorical Studies

Adams William C., Ed. Television Coverage of the 1980 Presidential Campaign. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1983.

-311-

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U.S. Presidents as Orators: A Bio-Critical Sourcebook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • An Introduction to Presidential Oratory ix
  • BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES xvii
  • George Washington (1732-1799) 3
  • Conclusion 15
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 16
  • John Adams (1735-1826) 18
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 26
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) 28
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 40
  • James Madison (1751-1836) 43
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 52
  • John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) 54
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 63
  • Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) 65
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 75
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 77
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 89
  • Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 93
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 107
  • Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) 111
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 132
  • Herbert Clark Hoover (1874-1964) 134
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 144
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) 146
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 164
  • Harry S. Truman (1884-1972) 168
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 187
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) 190
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 204
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) 210
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 225
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson (1908-1973) 228
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 245
  • Richard Milhous Nixon (1913-1994) 249
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 269
  • Gerald R. Ford (1913- ) 274
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 296
  • Jimmy Carter (1924- ) 299
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 311
  • Ronald Reagan (1911- ) 316
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 337
  • George Herbert Walker Bush (1924- ) 344
  • RHETORICAL SOURCES 358
  • Bill Clinton (1946- ) 361
  • RHETORICAL RESOURCES 374
  • Index 377
  • About the Editor and Contributors 387
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