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The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush

Elvin T. Lim


Why has it been so long since an American president has effectively and consistently presented well-crafted, intellectually substantive arguments to the American public? Why have presidential utterances fallen from the rousing speeches of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, and FDR to a series of robotic repetitions of talking points and 60-second soundbites, largely designed to obfuscate rather than illuminate? This book draws on interviews with more than 40 presidential speechwriters to investigate this relentless qualitative decline, over the course of 200 years, in our presidents' ability to ... More

Keywords: America, speeches, soundbites, speechwriters, communication, presidents, presidential discourse, anti-intellectualism, platitudes, public relations

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2008 Print ISBN-13: 9780195342642
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342642.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Elvin T. Lim, author
Wesleyan University