Tracing the Changes in Presidential Address and Power
V. BACK TO THE FUTURE: A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF PRESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT 191
CHAPTER V Back to the Future: A New Understanding of Presidential Development The [modern] rhetorical presidency is not just a fact of institutional change, like the growth of the White House staff, or the changing ca- reer patterns of Congressmen. It is a profound development in American politics. —Jeffrey Tulis, The Rhetorical Presidency ALTHOUGH THE “traditional” and the “modern” presidential distinctions may seek to provide scholars with “new terms with which to assess the char- acter and development of the constitutional order and the president’s place within it,” (Tulis, 1987, 4), this study suggests that this paradigm may tend to miss important nuances and developments in presidential rhetoric. In one of his works, Greenstein proposes that “major changes that, beginning in 1933, produced the modern presidency—increased unilateral policy-making capac- ity, centrality in national agenda setting…remain central elements of the presidency and of presidential leadership in the final decades of the century” (Greenstein, 1988, 347). Greenstein is correct in his assertion that these ele- ments are indeed important attributes to the contemporary presidency. How- ever, the findings in this book propose that the assumption that these tenets of a “modern” presidency were not present before a certain demarcation may be misleading to the study of presidential policy proposal and rhetoric. The importance of this examination of presidential address from Wash- ington to G.W. Bush lies in the observation that these findings neither illus- trate a “single” presidency from which we can trace the origins of popular The Evolutionary Rhetorical...
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