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

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ISBN-13: 978-0199898091
ISBN-10: 019989809X
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This slim, scathing book does not mince words about the current state of presidential rhetoric, frankly deploring its nosedive from our founding era. Drawing upon interviews with 42 presidential speech writers, Lim investigates what he sees as a particularly American phenomenon whereby most presidents have preferred to appear less, not more intellectually inclined than they actually were. He reveals the long institutional pedigree of anti-intellectualism in presidential addresses, from Harding to Eisenhower, Clinton (an intelligent but anti-intellectual president) to Bush, as presidents have positioned intellectuals as the piñatas of American politics. Lim builds his case systematically, introducing fascinating indices to measure oratorical sophistication or simplicity. A massive campaign of linguistic simplification is afoot, he argues, and he dissects inaugural addresses and presidential public papers, charting average sentence length, Flesch Readability and the preponderance of platitudes to evince a growing reification of style over substance. While his methodology is occasionally esoteric, Lim's presentation of the consequences of the manipulation of language in the political arena is clear and compelling, and will delight grammarians and political aficionados alike. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.


"Sheds fascinating and disturbing light on the torrent of communications that are unleashed by the 'communicator in chief.'... he argues that the real problem is not the increased quantity of words coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. but the sharp decline in content--especially of logical argument."--David S. Broder, Washington Post

" propels the debate over the public presidency in a fresh direction...This creative and eye-opening book should be read not only by those who study the rhetoric of the contemporary presidency, but by anyone who cares about the health of America's public discourse."--Political Science Quarterly

"Lim's presentation of the consequences of the manipulation of language in the political arena is clear and compelling, and will delight grammarians and political aficionados alike."--Publishers Weekly

"Recent American presidents have dumbed down democratic discourse, Elvin Lim shows in his disturbing new study of presidential leadership. The chief culprits are presidential speechwriters, who prize style over substance and subvert the reasoned articulation of policy. Timely, well written, and highly recommended."--Jeffrey K. Tulis, author of The Rhetorical Presidency

"That 'Presidents and speechwriters have killed oratory and gone anti-intellectual' will come as no surprise. But why? No scholar has thought more carefully and analyzed more rigorously this historic change in presidential communication with the public. This book will spawn important debates about the meaning and consequences of the 'dumbing down' of presidential rhetoric. It is a tour de force."--Elizabeth Sanders, Department of Government, Cornell University

"Elvin Lim documents a disturbing trend. Presidents are talking more, but their speech is getting less substantive and less informative. Simple declarations have come to substitute for reasoned arguments. Lim's findings ring true, all the more so for their careful empirical grounding and elegant presentation. I know of no book on presidential rhetoric that cuts more directly and effectively to the point."--Stephen Skowronek, Pelatiah Perit Professor of Political and Social Science, Yale University

"Elvin Lim argues convincingly that politics has been dumbed-down but that enlightened civic conversation is possible if politicians will only try. Lim also believes that the American people want to be stretched intellectually and emotionally. The dark trail he traces therefore ends in a sunburst of hope that I find heartening."--Roderick P. Hart, Dean Shivers/Cronkite Chair in Communication, College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin

--This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Publication Date : January 1, 2012
  • File Size : 2349 KB
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print Length : 195 pages
  • Publisher : Oxford University Press; Illustrated Edition (January 1, 2012)
  • ASIN : B006FT835E
  • Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Screen Reader : Supported
  • X-Ray : Not Enabled
  • Language: : English
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN : 019534264X
  • Lending : Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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