Cover image for Presidential speechwriting : from the New Deal to the Reagan revolution and beyond
Presidential speechwriting : from the New Deal to the Reagan revolution and beyond
Ritter, Kurt W.
First edition.
Publication Information:
College Station : Texas A&M University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 231 pages ; 25 cm.
Presidential speechwriting : ten myths that plague modern scholarship / Martin J. Medhurst -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt : rhetorical politics and political rhetorics / Halford Ryan -- Harry S. Truman : from whistle-stops to the halls of congress / Diana B. Carlin -- Dwight D. Eisenhower : the 1954 state of the union address as a case study in presidential speechwriting / Charles J.G. Griffin -- John F. Kennedy : presidential speechwriting as rhetorical collaboration / Theodore O. Windt, Jr. -- Lyndon B. Johnson : from private deliberations to public declaration : the making of LBJ's renunciation speech / Moya Ann Ball -- Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford : lessons on speechwriting / Craig R. Smith -- Jimmy Carter : the language of politics and the practice of integrity / John H. Patton -- Ronald Reagan's bully pulpit : creating a rhetoric of values / William K. Muir, Jr. -- Enduring issues in presidential speechwriting / Martin J. Medhurst.
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E176.1 .P896 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The rise of the media presidency through radio and television broadcasts has heightened the visibility and importance of presidential speeches in determining the effectiveness and popularity of the president of the United States. Not surprisingly, this development has also witnessed the rise of professional speechwriters to craft the words the chief executive would address to the nation.

Yet, as this volume of expert analyses clearly demonstrates, the reliance of individual presidents on their speechwriters has varied with the rhetorical skill of the officeholder himself, his managerial style, and his personal attitude toward public speaking. The individual chapters here (two by former White House speechwriters) give fascinating insight into the process and development of presidential speechwriting from Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration to Ronald Reagan's. Some contributors, such as Charles Griffin writing on Eisenhower and Moya Ball on Johnson, offer case studies of specific speeches to gain insight,into those presidents. Other chapters focus on institutional arrangements and personal relationships, rhetorical themes characterizing an administration, or the relationship between words and policies to shed light on presidential speechwriting.

The range of presidents covered affords opportunities to examine various factors that make rhetoric successful or not, to study alternative organizational arrangements for speechwriters, and even to consider the evolution of the rhetorical presidency itself. Yet, the volume's single focus on speechwriting and the analytic overviews provided by Martin J. Medhurst not only bring coherence to the work but also make this book an exemplar of howunity can be achieved from a diversity of approaches.

Medhurst's introduction of ten "myths" in the scholarship on presidential speeches and his summary of the enduring issues in the practice of speechwriting pull togethe

Author Notes

Kurt Ritter is a professor of speech communication at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. He has written extensively on presidential rhetoric, has won awards for his research
Martin J. Medhurst a professor of speech communication at Texas A&M as well as coordinator of the Program in Presidential Rhetoric at the George Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M and editor of the scholarly journal Rhetoric & Public Affairs

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This important book provides keen insights into the craft of writing speeches for presidents. The introduction refutes ten myths about presidential speechwriting, and it is essential reading for anyone interested in the subject. The subsequent chapters deal in turn with the speeches of Franklin Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. This reviewer found himself wishing that the book had brought the reader up to the present day; it does not because each of the chapters was derived from presentations at the 1996 "Conference on Presidential Rhetoric" held at Texas A&M University. Apart from that unavoidable shortcoming, this is a fascinating and useful work that presents some of the best material ever produced on the subject. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All levels. S. A. Rollman James Madison University

Table of Contents

Martin J. MedhurstHalford RyanDiana B. CarlinCharles J. G. GriffinTheodore O. Windt, Jr.Moya Ann BallCraig R. SmithJohn H. PattonWilliam K. Muir, Jr.Martin J. Medhurst
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: Presidential Speechwriting: Ten Myths That Plague Modern Scholarshipp. 3
Chapter 1 Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Rhetorical Politics and Political Rhetoricsp. 21
Chapter 2 Harry S. Truman: From Whistle-Stops to the Halls of Congressp. 40
Chapter 3 Dwight D. Eisenhower: The 1954 State of the Union Address as a Case Study in Presidential Speechwritingp. 68
Chapter 4 John F. Kennedy: Presidential Speechwriting as Rhetorical Collaborationp. 92
Chapter 5 Lyndon B. Johnson: From Private Deliberations to Public Declaration--The Making of LBJ's Renunciation Speechp. 108
Chapter 6 Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford: Lessons on Speechwritingp. 137
Chapter 7 Jimmy Carter: The Language of Politics and the Practice of Integrityp. 165
Chapter 8 Ronald Reagan's Bully Pulpit: Creating a Rhetoric of Valuesp. 194
Afterword: Enduring Issues in Presidential Speechwritingp. 217
Contributorsp. 221
Indexp. 223