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The Evolutionary Rhetorical Presidency

Tracing the Changes in Presidential Address and Power

Ryan Lee Teten

This book is an evolutionary examination of the rhetoric of the President of the United States, from George Washington to George W. Bush. It provides a close analysis of the history and content of inaugural addresses, State of the Union addresses, presidential proclamations, and executive orders in order to trace the changes in their use and impact from their origin to the present day. Content analysis of these forms of executive address are combined with case studies and illustrations to provide a complete look at the way that – contrary to the widely held ascription to a clear «traditional» versus «modern» divide – the presidents of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries have all contributed to the rhetorical tools and powers that the current president wields in the execution of his duty. The Evolutionary Rhetorical Presidency is widely useful not only for standard governmental classes on, for example, the Presidency or on political communication, but also for courses in history, leadership studies, and rhetoric.


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APPENDICES Appendix A: Varying Words/Phrases Considered As Policy Proposal/Advocacy The following excerpts from the State of the Union Addresses of each president represent different ways in which policies were proposed in that address. The cases below illustrate that some presidents of the 20th century proposed policy in ways very similar to those propositions of the founding and 19th century. In addition, these samples represent the guidelines that were followed with regard to counting policy proposals in the State of the Union Address. These guidelines are outlined in Chapter 1. If a president directly made a “recommendation” of any kind, it would be counted as a policy pro- posal. This includes statements such as “I recommend,” or “it is recom- mended.” Suggestions by the presidents were also counted as policy propositions. Statements such as “I suggest that,” or “it is strongly sug- gested” were seen as very clear policy proposals originating from the Ad- dress. In addition, statements such as “it is important that,” “you must,” “we ought to,” “it is desirable that,” “I feel that,” “it is necessary,” “we cannot neglect,” “it is essential that,” “you need to,” “you can,” “the Congress should,” or any use of the words must, will, should, could, would, have to, or shall were good indicators of places where policy proposal might be found. After observing terminology that might suggest policy proposal, it was important to determine whether or not an actual policy was being proposed. If the statement contained recommendations to actions upon which...

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