The President as Interpreter-In-Chief

By Mary E. Stuckey | Go to book overview

2
The Development of Mass-Mediated
Politics: Franklin D. Roosevelt
and Harry S. Truman

The presidency is preeminently a place of moral leadership. --FDR

My job is to convince people to do what they should have the sense to do in the first place. -- HST


The Presidency Goes Public

Mass-mediated and personalistic politics originated with Franklin Roosevelt and were institutionalized by Harry Truman. Their rhetoric is characterized by appeals to nationalism and internationalism, appeals that carry with them the implication that the president will be the center of American life and American government. Roosevelt's and Truman's public speeches also used vitriolic rhetoric when dealing with opponents, who are characterized as "moneychangers" or "selfish"; those opponents are outdated and cannot keep step with the new challenges America faces and the new role in the world America must assume.

These two presidents brought the United States into a position of world power. Echoing Woodrow Wilson, Roosevelt and Truman based the American claim to power on superior moral character supported by superior military arms. They also recognized the power inherent in self- interest. American involvement in World War II was necessary to save the free world and secure American self-interest, just as the Korean conflict was necessary to prevent a third world war and preserve American security.

-29-

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