The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton Paperbacks)

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9780691022956: The Rhetorical Presidency (Princeton Paperbacks)
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Modern presidents regularly appeal over the heads of Congress to the people at large to generate support for public policies.  Jeffrey K. Tulis argues that this political development, born at the outset of the twentieth century, is neither simply logical nor unequivocably benign.  Rather it is the product of conscious political choices that fundamentally transformed the presidency and the meaning of American governance.

Changes in rhetorical practice reflect and amplify changes in large perspectives upon the constitutional order.  Tulis examines successive understandings of the founders, of Theodore Roosevelt, and of Woodrow Wilson, and he traces the altered meanings of presidential practice.

The author displays American politics as a layered text with later developments superimposed upon, rather than simply elaborating or replacing, earlier theories and practices. He shows how presidents today inhabit a polity that is governed simultaneously by the theory that bears the modern rhetorical presidency and by the theory that underlies the older constitutional order.  It is in this political twilight that the dilemmas of presidential statecraft may be seen.

Extending a tradition of American political writing that begins with The Federalist and continues with Woodrow Wilson's Congressional Government, The Rhetorical Presidency views an institution from the perspective of the polity.  It treats ideas as constitutive of political life.

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"This is a brilliant book. The author does not overlap with the existing literature as much as offer an entirely new way of thinking about the phenomenon he describes. The book should draw respectful attention in a variety of disciplines--history, philosophy, and communications, as well as political science. . . . I could go on and on; there is no end to my appreciation for this work."--Michael Nelson, Vanderbilt University

"This book is full of good writing, sound judgment, and the exactly appropriate rhetoric for an analysis of the rhetorical presidency. Everyone is aware of references to the presidency as a bully pulpit and to presidents as great (or poor) communicators. But it takes a book like Tulis's to put all this together as an essential, perhaps the essential, political dimension of the presidency."--Theodore J. Lowi, Cornell University

"Making an image for presidents today is a sham rhetoric that must be judged within the history of presidential rhetoric since the Founding.  In this brilliant and original work, Jeffrey Tulis finds a new aspect on the presidency and rediscovers a forgotten topic in political science." -- Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr., Harvard University

About the Author:

Jeffrey K. Tulis teaches in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin. His books include Legacies of Losing in American Politics. Russell Muirhead is the Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics at Dartmouth College.

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Publisher: Princeton University Press, 1987
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