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Sound of Leadership : Presidential Communication in the Modern Age - Roderick P. Hart

Sound of Leadership

Presidential Communication in the Modern Age

Paperback Published: 1st January 1987
ISBN: 9780226318134
Number Of Pages: 300

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Why did Gerald Ford speak in public once every six hours during 1976? Why did no president spreak in Massachusetts during one ten-year period? Why did Jimmy Carter conduct public ceremonies four times more often than Harry Truman? Why are television viewers two-and-a-half times more likely to see a president speak on the nightly news than to hear him speak?
"The Sound of Leadership" answers these questions and many more. Based on analysis of nearly 10,000 presidential speeches delivered between 1945 and 1985, this book is the first comprehensive examination of the ways in which presidents Truman through Reagan have used the powers of communication to advance their political goals. This communication revolution has produced, Roderick P. Hart argues, a new form of governance, one in which public speech has come to be taken as political action. Using a rhetorical appraoch, Hart details the features of this new American presidency by carefully examining when and where presidents spoke in public during the last four decades and what they said. Even though presidents have been speaking more and more, Hart reveals, they have been saying less and less. Rather than leading the nation, the modern president usually offers only the hollow "sound" of leadership. Written with great flair and acuteness, "The Sound of Leadership" will become a standard guide to the voices of modern presidential politics.

Industry Reviews

An exhaustive analysis of the public speaking of modern-day presidents from Truman to Reagan, by Hart (Communication/Univ. of Texas, Austin), author of Public Communications, The Political Pulpit, and Verbal Style and the Presidency. For most of us, it began with the Kennedy-Nixon Debates, when an entire election seemed to hinge on poor makeup. Down the years it continued: Carter donning a cozy sweater for his version of a fireside chat, or Reagan's christening as "the Great Communicator." Suddenly, it seemed that what was said wasn't as important as how or where it was said or how the speaker looked saying it. Hart has analyzed over 10,000 presidential speeches in an effort to demonstrate that in the age of media glitz, public speech has replaced public action. Presidents, he suggests, have trained the public to feel that as long as the President is talking, much is being done. In a dizzying display of research, Hart argues that ritual is predominant over thought, that communication has become tarnished, and that all depends upon image. He provides a training guide, in a sense, to instruct citizens on just what to listen for and how to be selective. Besides the effect on the public of this verbal saturation, Hart shows the squalid effect on presidents as well, as they forfeit all "hiding places." Presidents must discuss with the public "why they sleep as often as they do, why they converse with their adolescent children about foreign policy, and what they say to their wives when settling down for the evening." Despite a tendency to be overly analytical ("the simplest speech act - say, a street-corner greeting - is a primitive power move"), Hart's research is solid, non-biased, awesome - and a good preparation for avoiding the next campaign's assault of words. (Kirkus Reviews)

Illustrations Tables
Speech and Effort: The New American Presidency
When Presidents Speak On Stage in the White House Rhetoric as Governance
The Kennedy Revolution Consequences Conclusion
Speech and Action: Building the Presidential Image
The Politics of Leadership
The Politics of Relationship
The Politics of Distraction Conclusion
Speech and Power: The Tools of Presidential Leadership Necessity
The Mother of Discourse
The Johnson Solution
The Nixon Solution Speech as Commodity Conclusion
Speech and Drama
The President versus the Mass Media Words about Presidential Words Orchestrating the Media Orchestrating the Presidency Conclusion
Speech and Choice
The Presidential Election Talk as Solution
What Do Elections Do?
Rhetoric and Geography Conclusion
Speech and Wisdom: Whither Presidents?
Wither Leadership?
Whither Presidents?
Whither Leadership?
Appendix: Methods and Overall Data
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780226318134
ISBN-10: 0226318133
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 300
Published: 1st January 1987
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 27.8 x 15.4  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.42