The Symbolic Presidency: How Presidents Portray Themselves

Barbara Hinckley, Author Routledge $35 (193p) ISBN 978-0-415-90267-0
Hinckley ( Congressional Elections ), a professor of politics at New York University, offers a persuasive, lucid assessment of how U.S. presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan have presented themselves and their office in public and private speeches. Examining such points as rhetorical style and preferred topics and audiences, she finds disturbing similarities that transcend differences in ideology and character: American history is reduced to a few great moments; problems of the recent past are sidestepped because ``the presidency can make all things new.'' She also shows that exploitation of symbolism, such as the image of ``the Lonely Man in the White House,'' takes the place of innovation. Moreover, presidents are actively encouraged to lie to the people, to give them the reassuring, culturally uniting figure they require. But, Hinckley exhorts, if Americans want fewer cover-ups and less dishonesty from the chief executive, they also must ask for a more realistic image of the presidency. ( July )
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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