Rhetoric As Currency

Presidential Rhetoric and Political Communication Series

Book 4
Texas A&M University Press
Free sample

Hoover, the president of economic depression; Roosevelt the president of recovery—the public images of these two men are so firmly fixed that they offer shorthand ways to talk about the era we know as the Great Depression. Yet their views on economic policy for taking the country out of its greatest economic calamity were not so different as is often supposed.

Indeed, the famed journalist Walter Lippmann once claimed that Roosevelt’s legislative measures represented “a continuous evolution of the Hoover measures.” Moreover, both Hoover and Roosevelt shared a Keynesian conviction that public confidence was vital to recovery. They differed markedly, of course, in their ability to restore that confidence. Roosevelt’s advantage lay not just in his position in the changing of the guard. He employed a skilled staff of speech writers, and he had the negative example of Hoover before him from which to plot rhetorical strategies that would be more effective.

In Rhetoric as Currency, Houck uses the historical context of the Great Depression to explore the relationship of rhetoric to the economy and specifically economic recovery. He closely analyzes Hoover’s rhetorical corpus from March 4, 1929, through March 3, 1933, and Roosevelt’s from January 3, 1930, through June 16, 1933. This longitudinal study allows him to understand rhetoric as a process rather than a series of isolated, discrete products.

Houck first examines Hoover’s presidential rhetoric, tracing its paradoxes and the radical shift that occurred in the final year of his administration. The Depression, in his rhetoric, was a foe to be vanquished by an optimistic Christian and civic faith, not federal legislation. Once he determined that federal intervention was indeed required, he could not return to the dais; rather, he relied on an antagonistic press to carry his message of confidence. Abdicating the rhetorical pulpit, he left it in the hands of those opposed to him.

Houck then studies the economic rhetoric of Franklin Roosevelt as governor, candidate, president-elect, and finally president. He traces the key similarities and differences in Roosevelt's economic rhetoric with particular attention to an embodied economics, wherein recovery was premised less on mental optimism than a physical, active confidence.

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About the author

Davis W. Houck, who received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University, is an assistant professor of communication at Florida State University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Texas A&M University Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2001
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Pages
226
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ISBN
9781585441099
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Language
English
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Genres
History / United States / 20th Century
Language Arts & Disciplines / Rhetoric
Political Science / History & Theory
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This content is DRM protected.
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When the stakes of public words and actions are global and permanent, and especially when they involve war and peace, can we afford not to seek their meaning? For three decades, Francis Beer has pioneered the effort to discover, describe, and connect pieces of the complex puzzle of war, peace, their interrelationship, and their causes.

In this volume, Beer (joined by colleagues as co-authors of some chapters) examines the cognitive, behavioral, and linguistic dimensions of war and peace. Language, he shows, is important because it mediates between thought and action. It expresses beliefs about war and peace and affects the perceptions of potential adversaries about one's own intentions. Using multiple perspectives and methods, he explores the uses of communication in international relations and the development of "meaning" for war and peace.

In this unique and innovative post-realist analysis, Beer examines how language transmits and creates meaning through interaction with specific audiences. His case studies include the Somalian intervention, Sarajevo and the Balkan conflict, and the Gulf War. Moving beyond the discrete words of war, the book takes a broader view of how political participants interact in war and peace through continuous streams of communication that reflect and construct worlds of meaning. This stimulating and challenging volume brings together insights and evidence from political science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, history, and rhetorical studies and applies them in a focused way to the problem of war and peace.
“I wish there were some great orator who would go about and make men drunk with this spirit of selfsacrifice . . . whose tongue might every day carry abroad the gold accents of that creative age in which we were born a nation; accents which would ring like tones of reassurance around the whole circle of the globe.”

These rousing words of academician Woodrow Wilson foreshadowed the role oratory would play in his own political career—a career that saw him triumph on his domestic agenda largely through his inspirational message but fail in his most cherished dream, the League of Nations, when words were not enough.

Robert Kraig’s path-breaking study of Wilson’s political philosophy of the oratorical statesman traces the classical influences on him as a young man, the development of his full-blown scholarly philosophy of oratory, and his use of rhetoric as governor of New Jersey and president of the United States. Although Wilson’s reputation as one of the most eloquent American presidents is firmly established, treatments of his life and presidency have largely ignored how his rhetorical leadership was formed.

Kraig addresses this oversight by examining the rich neoclassical traditions of Anglo-American oratory and statesmanship, the rhetorical pedagogy of the Gilded Age, and the development of Wilson’s own political thought. He concludes with consideration of how Wilson’s conception of oratorical leadership influenced his innovative conduct of the presidency.

The result is a revisionist interpretation of Wilson’s presidency that gives it a clearer historical context, shedding light on a neglected dimension of the political culture of the Progressive Era. In the process, Kraig reopens the question of how effective Wilson’s effort for international cooperation might have been had illness not struck him down.
The last presidential campaign of the nineteenth century was remarkable in a number of ways.

·It marked the beginning of the use of the news media in a modern manner.

·It saw the Democratic Party shift toward the more liberal position it occupies today.

·It established much of what we now consider the Republican coalition: Northeastern, conservative, pro-business.

It was also notable for the rhetorical differences of its two candidates. In what is often thought of as a single-issue campaign, William Jennings Bryan delivered his famous “Cross of Gold” speech but lost the election. Meanwhile, William McKinley addressed a range of topics in more than three hundred speeches—without ever leaving his front porch.

The campaign of 1896 gave the public one of the most dramatic and interesting battles of political oratory in American history, even though, ironically, its issues faded quickly into insignificance after the election.

In From the Front Porch to the Front Page, author William D. Harpine traces the campaign month-by-month to show the development of Bryan’s rhetoric and the stability of McKinley’s. He contrasts the divisive oratory Bryan employed to whip up fervor (perhaps explaining the 80 percent turnout in the election) with the lower-keyed unifying strategy McKinley adopted and with McKinley’s astute privileging of rhetorical siting over actual rhetoric.

Beyond adding depth and detail to the scholarly understanding of the 1896 presidential campaign itself (and especially the “Cross of Gold” speech), this book casts light on the importance of historical perspective in understanding rhetorical efforts in politics.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan were the two most powerful men in America, perhaps the world. As the nation’s preeminent financier, Morgan presided over an elemental shift in American business, away from family-owned companies and toward modern corporations of unparalleled size and influence. As president, Theodore Roosevelt expanded the power of that office to an unprecedented degree, seeking to rein in those corporations and to rebalance their interests with those of workers, consumers, and society at large.
Overpowering figures and titanic personalities, Roosevelt and Morgan could easily have become sworn enemies. And when they have been considered together (never before at book length), they have generally been portrayed as battling colossi, the great trust builder versus the original trustbuster. But their long association was far more complex than that, and even mutually beneficial.
Despite their many differences in temperament and philosophy, Roosevelt and Morgan had much in common—social class, an unstinting Victorian moralism, a drive for power, a need for order, and a genuine (though not purely altruistic) concern for the welfare of the nation. Working this common ground, the premier progressive and the quintessential capitalist were able to accomplish what neither could have achieved alone—including, more than once, averting national disaster. In the process they also changed forever the way that government and business worked together.
An Unlikely Trust is the story of the uneasy but fruitful collaboration between Theodore Roosevelt and Pierpont Morgan. It is also the story of how government and business evolved from a relationship of laissez-faire to the active regulation that we know today. And it is an account of how, despite all that has changed in America over the past century, so much remains the same, including the growing divide between rich and poor; the tangled bonds uniting politicians and business leaders; and the pervasive feeling that government is working for the special interests rather than for the people. Not least of all, it is the story of how citizens with vastly disparate outlooks and interests managed to come together for the good of their common country.
James Carville famously reminded Bill Clinton throughout 1992 that "it's the economy, stupid." Yet, for the last forty years, historians of modern America have ignored the economy to focus on cultural, social, and political themes, from the birth of modern feminism to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now a scholar has stepped forward to place the economy back in its rightful place, at the center of his historical narrative. In More, Robert M. Collins reexamines the history of the United States from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, focusing on the federal government's determined pursuit of economic growth. After tracing the emergence of growth as a priority during FDR's presidency, Collins explores the record of successive administrations, highlighting both their success in fostering growth and its partisan uses. Collins reveals that the obsession with growth appears not only as a matter of policy, but as an expression of Cold War ideology--both a means to pay for the arms build-up and proof of the superiority of the United States' market economy. But under Johnson, this enthusiasm sparked a crisis: spending on Vietnam unleashed runaway inflation, while the nation struggled with the moral consequences of its prosperity, reflected in books such as John Kenneth Galbraith's The Affluent Society and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. More continues up to the end of the 1990s, as Collins explains the real impact of Reagan's policies and astutely assesses Clinton's "disciplined growthmanship," which combined deficit reduction and a relaxed but watchful monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. Writing with eloquence and analytical clarity, Robert M. Collins offers a startlingly new framework for understanding the history of postwar America.
Historians have often speculated on the alternative paths the United Stages might have taken during the Great Depression: What if Franklin D. Roosevelt had been killed by one of Giuseppe Zangara’s bullets in Miami on February 17, 1933? Would there have been a New Deal under an administration led by Herbert Hoover had he been reelected in 1932? To what degree were Roosevelt’s own ideas and inclinations, as opposed to those of his contemporaries, essential to the formulation of New Deal policies?

In Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the Economics of Recovery, the eminent historian Elliot A. Rosen examines these and other questions, exploring the causes of the Great Depression and America’s recovery from it in relation to the policies and policy alternatives that were in play during the New Deal era. Evaluating policies in economic terms, and disentangling economic claims from political ideology, Rosen argues that while planning efforts and full-employment policies were essential for coping with the emergency of the depression, from an economic standpoint it is in fact fortunate that they did not become permanent elements of our political economy. By insisting that the economic bases of proposals be accurately represented in debating their merits, Rosen reveals that the productivity gains, which accelerated in the years following the 1929 stock market crash, were more responsible for long-term economic recovery than were governmental policies.

Based on broad and extensive archival research, Roosevelt, the Great Depression, and the Economics of Recovery is at once an erudite and authoritative history of New Deal economic policy and timely background reading for current debates on domestic and global economic policy.

In November 1999 the Brookings Institution and Yale University jointly sponsored a conference to reconsider the national economic policies of the 1960s and the theories that influenced them, in light of subsequent events in the economy and of developments in economic theory and research. This volume contains the papers and comments of the participants. The 1960s were years of difficult challenges to U.S. policymakers and of important initiatives to meet them. The economic doldrums at the start of the decade gave way to strong expansion and prosperity, which, however, ended with excessive inflation. The decade that followed was the most turbulent of the postwar period, with global shock waves from oil prices, two deep recessions, and historic changes in the international financial system. Both policymaking and economic thinking have evolved since the 1960s. The papers gathered in this volume examine the economics of the 1960s as the starting point in this evolution.Several of the contributors to this volume were involved in policymaking in the 1960s. Their papers provide firsthand insights to the analyses and priorities of that period and a prelude to examination of subsequent ideas and policies. Younger scholars represented in the volume bring different perspectives. All participants have been active in economic research since the 1960s; collectively they represent a wide range of expertise in economic analysis.This volume is dedicated to the memory of Arthur Okun, a major figure in economics and economic policy throughout the Kennedy-Johnson era, at Yale, at the Council on Economic Advisers, and at Brookings. He served as chairman of the council and chief economic adviser to President Johnson. At Brookings, he and George Perry founded the Brookings Panel on Economic Activity and its journal, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity.
A “provocative” (Kirkus Reviews), timely, and topical work that examines what’s good for American business and what’s good for Americans—and why those interests are misaligned.

In American Amnesia, bestselling political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity. We have largely forgotten this reliance, as many political circles and corporate actors have come to mistakenly see government as a hindrance rather than the propeller it once was. “American Amnesia” is more than a rhetorical phrase; elites have literally forgotten, or at least forgotten to talk about, the essential role of public authority in achieving big positive-sum bargains in advanced societies.

The mixed economy was the most important social innovation of the twentieth century. It spread a previously unimaginable level of broad prosperity. It enabled steep increases in education, health, longevity, and economic security. And yet, extraordinarily, it is anathema to many current economic and political elites. Looking at this record of remarkable accomplishment, they recoil in horror. And as the advocates of anti-government free market fundamentalist have gained power, they are hell-bent on scrapping the instrument of nearly a century of unprecedented economic and social progress. In the American Amnesia, Hacker and Pierson explain the full “story of how government helped make America great, how the enthusiasm for bashing government is behind its current malaise, and how a return to effective government is the answer the nation is looking for” (The New York Times).
When the stakes of public words and actions are global and permanent, and especially when they involve war and peace, can we afford not to seek their meaning? For three decades, Francis Beer has pioneered the effort to discover, describe, and connect pieces of the complex puzzle of war, peace, their interrelationship, and their causes.

In this volume, Beer (joined by colleagues as co-authors of some chapters) examines the cognitive, behavioral, and linguistic dimensions of war and peace. Language, he shows, is important because it mediates between thought and action. It expresses beliefs about war and peace and affects the perceptions of potential adversaries about one's own intentions. Using multiple perspectives and methods, he explores the uses of communication in international relations and the development of "meaning" for war and peace.

In this unique and innovative post-realist analysis, Beer examines how language transmits and creates meaning through interaction with specific audiences. His case studies include the Somalian intervention, Sarajevo and the Balkan conflict, and the Gulf War. Moving beyond the discrete words of war, the book takes a broader view of how political participants interact in war and peace through continuous streams of communication that reflect and construct worlds of meaning. This stimulating and challenging volume brings together insights and evidence from political science, cognitive psychology, linguistics, history, and rhetorical studies and applies them in a focused way to the problem of war and peace.
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." These are some of the most famous, the most quoted, and the best remembered words in American political history. They seem to be a natural expression of American democratic will, yet these words from Franklin Roosevelt's first inaugural address had an actual author who struggled with how best to express that thought-and it wasn't the new president. In this innovative book on the crafting of this crucial speech, Davis W. Houck leads the reader from its negative, mechanical, and Hooverian first draft through its final revision, its delivery, and the responses of those who were inspired by it during those troubled times. Houck's analysis, dramatic and at points riveting, focuses on three themes: how the speech came to be written; an explication of the text itself; and its reception. Drawing on the writings and memories of several people who were present in the crowd at the inauguration, Houck shows how powerfully the new president's speech affected those who were there or who heard it on the radio. Some were so moved by Roosevelt's delivery that they would have been willing to make him a dictator, and many believed such inspired words could have come only from a divine source. Houck then flashes back to the final year of the 1932 presidential campaign to show how Raymond Moley, the principal architect of the address, came to be trusted by Roosevelt to craft this important speech. Houck traces the relationships of Moley with Roosevelt and Roosevelt's influential confidante, Louis Howe, who was responsible for important changes in the speech's later drafts, including the famous aphorism. Although the book focuses primarily on the speech and its drafting, Houck also offers telling glimpses of Roosevelt's complex relationship with his wife, who dreaded her new duties as First Lady, and his deep, personal dislike of Herbert Hoover, all while conveying a strong sense of the urgency of the times. The text of this compelling address is provided in its entirety so that students and others may experience for themselves the full power of the rhetoric. Davis W. Houck, an assistant professor of communication at Florida State University, has written several works on presidential rhetoric, including Rhetoric as Currency: Hoover, Roosevelt, and the Great Depression, also published by Texas A&M University Press. He holds a Ph.D. from Penn State University.
“I wish there were some great orator who would go about and make men drunk with this spirit of selfsacrifice . . . whose tongue might every day carry abroad the gold accents of that creative age in which we were born a nation; accents which would ring like tones of reassurance around the whole circle of the globe.”

These rousing words of academician Woodrow Wilson foreshadowed the role oratory would play in his own political career—a career that saw him triumph on his domestic agenda largely through his inspirational message but fail in his most cherished dream, the League of Nations, when words were not enough.

Robert Kraig’s path-breaking study of Wilson’s political philosophy of the oratorical statesman traces the classical influences on him as a young man, the development of his full-blown scholarly philosophy of oratory, and his use of rhetoric as governor of New Jersey and president of the United States. Although Wilson’s reputation as one of the most eloquent American presidents is firmly established, treatments of his life and presidency have largely ignored how his rhetorical leadership was formed.

Kraig addresses this oversight by examining the rich neoclassical traditions of Anglo-American oratory and statesmanship, the rhetorical pedagogy of the Gilded Age, and the development of Wilson’s own political thought. He concludes with consideration of how Wilson’s conception of oratorical leadership influenced his innovative conduct of the presidency.

The result is a revisionist interpretation of Wilson’s presidency that gives it a clearer historical context, shedding light on a neglected dimension of the political culture of the Progressive Era. In the process, Kraig reopens the question of how effective Wilson’s effort for international cooperation might have been had illness not struck him down.
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