The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush
Supported by extensive research and interviews with 42 presidential speech writers, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency proposes the theory (among several) that the decline in the discourse and deliberation of national policy by the public can be traced to the tendency by the Executive Branch to not merely oversimplify said issues in Presidential remarks, but also through the desire of the Office to deify the public’s “common sense” to justify the simplification to begin with. The decline in linguistic selections that encourage or even acknowledge deliberation and discussion of complex policies is measured in several ways: by scoring Presidential addresses on the Flesch Readability scale; by tracking synonymic linguistic categories of, for example, hostility, negativity, and power loss; and by illuminating the goals of the presidential speechwriting staff through direct and discovered interviews. Lim argues too that President Nixon’s choice in 1969 to officially separate speechwriters and policy advisors into distinct camps formalized already escalating anti-intellectual tendencies, eventually creating, among many problems, the myth of Presidents being too overburdened to craft their own addresses, and the injection of essentially any policy details into public addresses.Lim’s books provides an extensive index, deep bibliography, and several revealing appendices. This is an excellent and engaging book.