Presidents Creating the Presidency: Deeds Done in Words

Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, Author, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Author . Univ. of Chicago $63 (384p) ISBN 978-0-226-09220-1

Campbell and Jamieson argue that the powers and parameters of the presidency are negotiated through rhetoric. “The institutions of our government constitute an experiment in rhetorical adaptation in which the initiatives of any one branch can be modified and refined by the reactions of the others,” write the authors, providing fascinating examples of how each president has expanded or contracted the powers of the executive branch. In this updated version, the authors have made significant structural changes to their 1990 book, adding sections on national eulogies, Clinton and Bush’s oratory, and “de facto item vetoes” (presidential statements that accompany and modify legislation passed by Congress). The authors tie together overarching themes and functions of various “genres” of presidential rhetoric (inaugurations, presidential pardons, state of the union addresses), dwelling on specific speeches (Lincoln’s first inaugural, Bush’s national eulogy after 9/11) with depth and clarity. While the passages on inaugurals and the state of the union are more descriptive than insightful, the chapter on veto messages is original and offers fresh perceptions on a newer political trend. A comprehensively researched and stimulating read in an election year. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/10/2008
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 433 pages - 978-0-226-09221-8
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