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The Rhetorical Presidency


Publisher:Princeton University Press



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About the book:

Modern presidents regularly appeal over the heads of Congress to the people at large to generate support for public policies.  Jeffrey K. Tulis argues that this political development, born at the outset of the twentieth century, is neither simply logical nor unequivocably benign.  Rather it is the product of conscious political choices that fundamentally transformed the presidency and the meaning of American governance.

Changes in rhetorical practice reflect and amplify changes in large perspectives upon the constitutional order.  Tulis examines successive understandings of the founders, of Theodore Roosevelt, and of Woodrow Wilson, and he traces the altered meanings of presidential practice.

The author displays American politics as a layered text with later developments superimposed upon, rather than simply elaborating or replacing, earlier theories and practices. He shows how presidents today inhabit a polity that is governed simultaneously by the theory that bears the modern rhetorical presidency and by the theory that underlies the older constitutional order.  It is in this political twilight that the dilemmas of presidential statecraft may be seen.

Extending a tradition of American political writing that begins with The Federalist and continues with Woodrow Wilson's Congressional Government, The Rhetorical Presidency views an institution from the perspective of the polity.  It treats ideas as constitutive of political life.

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