The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush

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In The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, Elvin Lim draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents' ability to communicate with the public. Lim argues that the ever-increasing pressure for presidents to manage public opinion and perception has created a "pathology of vacuous rhetoric and imagery" where gesture and appearance matter more than accomplishment and fact. Lim tracks the campaign to simplify presidential discourse through presidential and speechwriting decisions made from the Truman to the present administration, explaining how and why presidents have embraced anti-intellectualism and vague platitudes as a public relations strategy. Lim sees this anti-intellectual stance as a deliberate choice rather than a reflection of presidents' intellectual limitations. Only the smart, he suggests, know how to dumb down. The result, he shows, is a dangerous debasement of our political discourse and a quality of rhetoric which has been described, charitably, as "a linguistic struggle" and, perhaps more accurately, as "dogs barking idiotically through endless nights." Sharply written and incisively argued, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency sheds new light on the murky depths of presidential oratory, illuminating both the causes and consequences of this substantive impoverishment.

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About the Author:


Assistant Professor of Politics at Wesleyan University

Review:


"Sheds fascinating and disturbing light on the torrent of communications that are unleashed by the 'communicator in chief.'... he argues that the real problem is not the increased quantity of words coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. but the sharp decline in content--especially of logical argument."--David S. Broder, Washington Post


"Superb...it propels the debate over the public presidency in a fresh direction...This creative and eye-opening book should be read not only by those who study the rhetoric of the contemporary presidency, but by anyone who cares about the health of America's public discourse."--Political Science Quarterly


"Lim's presentation of the consequences of the manipulation of language in the political arena is clear and compelling, and will delight grammarians and political aficionados alike."--Publishers Weekly


"Recent American presidents have dumbed down democratic discourse, Elvin Lim shows in his disturbing new study of presidential leadership. The chief culprits are presidential speechwriters, who prize style over substance and subvert the reasoned articulation of policy. Timely, well written, and highly recommended."--Jeffrey K. Tulis, author of The Rhetorical Presidency


"That 'Presidents and speechwriters have killed oratory and gone anti-intellectual' will come as no surprise. But why? No scholar has thought more carefully and analyzed more rigorously this historic change in presidential communication with the public. This book will spawn important debates about the meaning and consequences of the 'dumbing down' of presidential rhetoric. It is a tour de force."--Elizabeth Sanders, Department of Government, Cornell University


"Elvin Lim documents a disturbing trend. Presidents are talking more, but their speech is getting less substantive and less informative. Simple declarations have come to substitute for reasoned arguments. Lim's findings ring true, all the more so for their careful empirical grounding and elegant presentation. I know of no book on presidential rhetoric that cuts more directly and effectively to the point."--Stephen Skowronek, Pelatiah Perit Professor of Political and Social Science, Yale University


"Elvin Lim argues convincingly that politics has been dumbed-down but that enlightened civic conversation is possible if politicians will only try. Lim also believes that the American people want to be stretched intellectually and emotionally. The dark trail he traces therefore ends in a sunburst of hope that I find heartening."--Roderick P. Hart, Dean Shivers/Cronkite Chair in Communication, College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. In The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, Elvin Lim draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents' ability to communicate with the public. Lim argues that the ever-increasing pressure for presidents to manage public opinion and perception has created a "pathology of vacuous rhetoric and imagery" where gesture and appearance matter more thanaccomplishment and fact. Lim tracks the campaign to simplify presidential discourse through presidential and speechwriting decisions made from the Truman to the present administration, explaining how and why presidents have embraced anti-intellectualism and vague platitudes as a public relations strategy. Lim seesthis anti-intellectual stance as a deliberate choice rather than a reflection of presidents' intellectual limitations. Only the smart, he suggests, know how to dumb down. The result, he shows, is a dangerous debasement of our political discourse and a quality of rhetoric which has been described, charitably, as "a linguistic struggle" and, perhaps more accurately, as "dogs barking idiotically through endless nights." Sharply written and incisively argued, The Anti-Intellectual Presidencysheds new light on the murky depths of presidential oratory, illuminating both the causes and consequences of this substantive impoverishment. Seller Inventory # APC9780199898091

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. In The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, Elvin Lim draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents' ability to communicate with the public. Lim argues that the ever-increasing pressure for presidents to manage public opinion and perception has created a "pathology of vacuous rhetoric and imagery" where gesture and appearance matter more thanaccomplishment and fact. Lim tracks the campaign to simplify presidential discourse through presidential and speechwriting decisions made from the Truman to the present administration, explaining how and why presidents have embraced anti-intellectualism and vague platitudes as a public relations strategy. Lim seesthis anti-intellectual stance as a deliberate choice rather than a reflection of presidents' intellectual limitations. Only the smart, he suggests, know how to dumb down. The result, he shows, is a dangerous debasement of our political discourse and a quality of rhetoric which has been described, charitably, as "a linguistic struggle" and, perhaps more accurately, as "dogs barking idiotically through endless nights." Sharply written and incisively argued, The Anti-Intellectual Presidencysheds new light on the murky depths of presidential oratory, illuminating both the causes and consequences of this substantive impoverishment. Seller Inventory # APC9780199898091

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Book Description Oxford University Press. Paperback. Condition: New. 208 pages. Dimensions: 5.2in. x 3.0in. x 0.6in.In The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, Elvin Lim draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents ability to communicate with the public. Lim argues that the ever-increasing pressure for presidents to manage public opinion and perception has created a pathology of vacuous rhetoric and imagery where gesture and appearance matter more than accomplishment and fact. Lim tracks the campaign to simplify presidential discourse through presidential and speechwriting decisions made from the Truman to the present administration, explaining how and why presidents have embraced anti-intellectualism and vague platitudes as a public relations strategy. Lim sees this anti-intellectual stance as a deliberate choice rather than a reflection of presidents intellectual limitations. Only the smart, he suggests, know how to dumb down. The result, he shows, is a dangerous debasement of our political discourse and a quality of rhetoric which has been described, charitably, as a linguistic struggle and, perhaps more accurately, as dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. Sharply written and incisively argued, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency sheds new light on the murky depths of presidential oratory, illuminating both the causes and consequences of this substantive impoverishment. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Seller Inventory # 9780199898091

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