The President as Interpreter-In-Chief

By Mary E. Stuckey | Go to book overview

3
The Birth of Televised Politics:
Dwight D. Eisenhower and
John F. Kennedy

Now I think, speaking roughly, by leadership we mean the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it, not because your position of power can compel him to do it, or your position of authority. -- DDE

The presidency needs someone creative and dynamic. The President alone must make the decisions. The President cannot share power, cannot delegate. He alone is chief of state. -- JFK


The Potential of Televised Politics

This period marks the beginning of televised politics. The old style of politics has not been replaced by the new style, but the new style is augmenting the old. The public, aided by television, is beginning to turn more and more to the president, whose voice is becoming privileged above other voices in the national government. Both Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy were adept at the use of television, and television upported both of them in their bids for election and during their time in office. Their rhetoric is essentially based in television, but it is not designed only for television; the print media are still very strong, and much of the country continues to rely primarily on radio. Despite the political gulf between Eisenhower and Kennedy, the two presidents stand together in terms of the influence of television on the institution of the presidency. Their rhetoric illustrates both their political differences and their rhetorical similarities.

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