The President as Interpreter-In-Chief

By Mary E. Stuckey | Go to book overview

5
The Issue of Control: Gerald R. Ford
and Jimmy Carter

The essential task of leadership in the modern age, as in ages
past, is to inspire, to teach, to act with courage, to live with
honor, and to show the way. -- GRF

There is only one person in this nation who can speak with a
clear voice to the American people. There's only one person
who can set a standard of ethics and morality and excellence and
greatness and call on the American people to make a sacrifice
and explain the purpose of the sacrifice, or answer difficult
questions or propose and carry out bold programs, or to provide
for defense posture that would make us feel secure, a foreign
policy that would make us proud again, and that's the Presi
dent. -- JEC


The New Hostility of Television

Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter attempted to exercise leadership during a politically difficult time. Reaction to Watergate and the Vietnam war made the electorate suspicious of power and those who wielded it; the national media, both print and television, were perceived as powerful and hostile. At the same time, national leadership was expected from the president; its lack was strongly felt and strongly criticized. To exercise leadership without the explicit use of power is difficult. To maintain the low profile seemingly required of these "postimperial" presidents and still to inspire the nation is even more difficult.

-91-

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