The President as Interpreter-In-Chief

By Mary E. Stuckey | Go to book overview

7
(Almost) "Everything Old Is New" Again:
The Consequences of
Televised Politics

THE EVIDENCE presented in the previous chapters indicates that the rhetorical goals of national political actors have not changed substantially over time. All national politicians seek personal and political support from their constituents. Thematic, unified, and integrated communication has always been an important element in that search. This was as true for Cotton Mather, Andrew Jackson, and Abraham Lincoln as it is for George Bush. What has changed is not the goal of political communication, but its context, content, and composition. These changes are related to changes in the political culture as it interacts with the technology of communication. In other words, communication technology affects the communication strategies of all political actors. Because of the president's public dominance, this is most clearly seen in the rhetoric of the modern presidents. 1


The Political Context of Presidential Speech

As the nation has increased in size and complexity, our notions of who and what constitute the national polity have changed, and as traditional and constitutional linkages between the leaders and led have broken down, the president's role has changed dramatically. During the early days of the Republic, the president's role was more purely administrative. The president was less of an active participant in public debates, but communicated primarily to other elites. This reflected the nature of the presidential

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