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The Rhetoric of Harry Truman Mandy Reynolds. The Rhetorical President 2-pronged Wilsonian concept of the rhetorical presidency: “First, the President.

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Presentation on theme: "The Rhetoric of Harry Truman Mandy Reynolds. The Rhetorical President 2-pronged Wilsonian concept of the rhetorical presidency: “First, the President."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Rhetoric of Harry Truman Mandy Reynolds

2 The Rhetorical President 2-pronged Wilsonian concept of the rhetorical presidency: “First, the President should employ oratory to create an active public opinion that, if necessary, will pressure the Congress into accepting his program…Second, in order to reach and move the public, the character of the rhetoric must tap the public’s feelings and articulate its wishes. Rhetoric does not instill old and established principles as much as it seeks to infuse a sense of vision into the President’s particular legislative program. –The Rise of the Rhetorical Presidency

3 Plain Spoken Prosaic, “Truman asked only that the speech be as brief as possible and that his statements be accurate.” Not a gifted speaker, “achieved a symbiosis between his delivery & choice of language that worked well for him in confrontational situations.” Wood-Chop gesture, “communicated a man hewing to the line of right and letting the chips fall where they may” “short, punchy style of speaking seemed more like a drill sergeant’s…than a president’s. Yet Truman’s unvarnished delivery & diction had a certain effectiveness.”

4 Ordinary diction –“the simple soul must be presented with simple speeches.” –“People don’t listen to a speaker just to admire his techniques or his manner; they go to learn. They want the meat of the speech…not oratorical trimmings.” –Organized his speeches in a deductive fashion, stating his thesis and then warrant it with supporting arguments and evidence.

5 Supernation Rhetoric Cold War rhetoric pits light of democracy against darkness of communism “new note of the quasi-apocalyptic transformation of the world in a final battle with demonic communism” –Dante Germino President depicts the supernation in Manichean terms, which is “to view one’s own side as the repository of all goodness and the other of all evil” President distorts the connotative and denotative meanings of freedom, dividing the world into free and enslaved.

6 Crisis Rhetoric Announces “new facts” leading to the “new situation” or crisis; what remains is the question of how to act, not whether to act. devil/angel, good/bad, black/white dichotomies Public’s Response to foreign policy matters is one of emotion rather than intellect

7 The Truman Doctrine March 12, 1947

8 Supernation, Crisis Rhetoric Problem-Solution Arrangement Employed a contrapuntal structure to advance 10 themes repeatedly, each interlaced with the others in various combinations –Sense of mission, hostility towards communism as threat to freedom, desire to combat forces of evil –Image of global emergency 3 goals 1.Prove the soviet threat was serious 2.Only US could handle the threat 3.Establish that it would become basic US policy to accept the responsibility for this type of threat The Truman Doctrine

9 “The free peoples of the world look to us for support in maintaining their freedoms. If we falter in our leadership, we may endanger the peace of the world. And we shall surely endanger the welfare of this nation.”

10 “The speech held more power over the mass public precisely because it did not present new forms of belief, but instead, served to reinforce already established beliefs.” –Bonnie Jefferson

11 Inaugural January 20, 1949

12 Focused almost entirely on foreign issues “I accept [the presidency] with a resolve to do all the I can for the welfare of this Nation and for the peace of the world…It is fitting therefore, that we take this occasion to proclaim to the world the essential principles of the faith by which we live, and to declare our aims to all peoples.”

13 Juxtaposition of Communism & Democracy 1.Communism believes “that man is so weak” that he “requires the rule of strong masters,” but democracy believes “that man has the moral and intellectual capacity…to govern himself.” 2.Communism subjects individuals to invidious state controls whereas democracy protects “the right of the individual.” 3.Communism maintains that social wrongs can be corrected only by violence” whereas democracy acheives “social justice…through peaceful change.” 4.Communism holds that the world is so widely divided into opposing classes that war is inevitable,” but “Democracy holds that free nations can settle differences justly and maintain a lasting peace.”

14 4 Points Our program for peace and freedom will emphasize four major courses of action.” First, we will continue to give unfaltering support to the United Nations and related agencies, and we will continue to search for ways to strengthen their authority and increase their effectiveness. Second, we will continue our programs for world economic recovery. Economic recovery and peace itself depend on increased world trade. Third, we will strengthen freedom-loving nations against the dangers of aggression. Fourth, we must embark on a bold new program for making the benefits of our scientific advances and industrial progress available for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas

15 “Our allies are the millions who hunger and thirst after righteousness.”

16 Farewell Address I have had hardly a day in office that has not been dominated by this all- embracing struggle -- this conflict between those who love freedom and those who would lead the world back into slavery and darkness

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