State of the Union

In what important respects did President Trump’s State of the Union address in 2019 (video here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.; transcript here (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) follow the patterns laid out by Campbell and Jamieson (2008)Preview the document, and in what important respects did it depart from those patterns? Write an essay of 1000-1400 words (excluding any quotations) comparing Trump’s speech both to the framework and to the examples Campbell and Jamieson employ.

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Presidents Creating the Presidency DEEDS DONE IN WORDS

Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

The University of Chicago Press * Chicago and London


An analysis of pardoning rhetoric suggests that no presidential power is wholly unfettered. Even the unilateral and discretionary act of pardoning needs to be performed properly if presidential power is to be maintained. Were any presidential power wholly unfettered, it would be impossible to claim that the rhetoric involved in its exercise was constitutive either of the institution or of a particular presidency. But because power is always limited, the rhetorical exercise thereof is constitutive in that such power will always be exercised wisely or un- wisely, with care for or indifference toward the institution, and with concern for or indifference to the future of the presidency and future



State of the Union Addresses

111e State of the Union address, formerly known as the annual mes- sage, 1 takes its name and function from article 2, section 3 of the Con- stitution, which provides that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information on the state of the Union and recom- mend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary u nd expedient.” In charging presidents with reporting on the state of the Union, the Constitution offers them the role of national historian, giving them the opportunity to reconstruct the past in order to forge l he future. By using history skillfully, they can involve Congress and the people in an affirmation that this is not only the way it was, but 11 lso the way it will be. The more eloquent presidents have seized the opportunity to reshape reality and to imprint their conception of it on the nation.

1be Constitution does not indicate how these messages are to be de- 1 lvcred; the earliest were oral and delivered at midday. Thomas Jeffer- ‘~ on , a diffident speaker committed to reducing the pomp and ceremony of” the presidency, chose to send written addresses. From that time until Woodrow Wilson reinstated oral delivery, annual messages were writ- 1 ’11. 2 In modern times, Supreme Court justices, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 111 •mbers of the cabinet, and members of Congress are all seated bc- li> rc the president. Members of the public witness the speech from the 1’,11 ll cries, and a large viewing audience watches it on television during p1·ime time. The setting ritualistically reaffirms the existence of the I h rec branches of government and that each is playing it s constitut ion- ull y ordained role.

‘ll1c annual message is a uniquely presidential genre and, as such, ll l’l ps to maintain the role of t he executive. No one else is charged with 1 Ill s specific responsibility or may deliver this address to t he asscmbl ‘ I .on µ; rcss. As Charles Beard wrote, “Whatever may be its purport, Lh

11 wssugc is the one µ; r ·nt pul Ii ·document of the United States whi ·h ls w d ·ly re:.1 cl and li s ·11s. 1·d.” 1 Woocll’Ow W ilson saw th anmrn l m •ssng


as one of the instruments best suited to the exercise of presidential leadership:

If the President has personal force and cares to exercise it, there is a tremen-

dous difference between his message and the views of any other citizen either

outside Congress or in it; the whole country reads or listens to them and feels

that the writer speaks with an authority and a responsibility that the peopte

themselves have ‘given him. 4

By the sheer fact of its delivery, the address reminds the country that presidents have a unique role in our system of government. They are to view questions in the aggregate and as they pertain to the whole-to the Union. They must report to and advise Congress, the diverse repre- sentatives of the people of all states and regions, which implies that the presidency gives its occupant a unique, national vantage point.

On its face, the constitutional provision appears to call for messages that identify problems and justify the policies the president deems best suited to their solution. As the Constitution acknowledges, however, policy proposals grow out of the interpretation of information; that is, out of the executive’s assessment of the condition of the nation. Propos- als are solutions to problems recognized and defined in that assessment. In other words, facts do not speak for themselves; assessments must be grounded in values. Consequently, State of the Union addresses not only assess and recommend, they also articulate the values underlying assessments.

On January 8, 1790, at the first session of Congress, at a ceremony whose pomp and formality were reminiscent of the Speech from the Throne made by British monarchs, George Washington delivered the first annual message. In it, he made no specific policy proposals; he merely enumerated those topics that he believed required congressio- nal attention. Despite this deference to what he took to be congressio· nal prerogatives, Washington’s prestige and the nature of the occasion gave great weight even to implied proposals.

The latitude offered by the constitutional provision has affected pres· idential practice from 1790 to the present and has produced a body of’ discourse that varies greatly. 5 Some addresses have been lengthy com pendia covering dozens of topics; others have sharply defined a limited number oflegislative priorities. 6 Some have outlined only general pr grams, leaving policy details to Congress; others have lo id out specif!’ legislative programs.7 Some have informed withou t r conun ‘ndlng, In


some instances merely calling congressional attention to issues of con- cern, in others simply indicating administrative implementation of con- gressional enactments. 8 Some have been coherent wholes; others have been catalogues of unrelated concerns or policies. 9 Some have been de- livered orally; others have been written. Some have been addressed to

ongress; others have been addressed to the public as well in an effort lo marshal popular support for presidential initiatives; some have ad- dressed the increasingly important international audience. Some have made carefully reasoned arguments for policies; others have merely I is ted areas for potential action. Some have been eloquent exhortations; others have been factual and dull. These addresses also vary depend- 1 ng on when they occur in a presidency. Typically, a president’s first 11ddress forecasts; the last recapitulates; those in between do both. As II result, each president’s annual messages trace the evolution of that presidency, as accomplishments and frustrations are reflected in the ex- t ·nt t o which the legislative agenda has been enacted, persists, or has Ileen abandoned.


As we have just noted, the variation among State of the Union addresses Is great-so great that it may seem presumptuous to approach them as 11 genre. Here it is imperative to recall what was said in chapter 1 about II ·ncric criticism. Genres do not exist in any fixed and final sense; they 11rc only critics’ tools, to be judged by the illumination they provide. In the case of State of the Union addresses, while recognizing their vari- 1•t y, we offer an analysis based on a few key similarities that have ex- L l •d through time and that reveal the functions of this rhetorical act lbr the presidency.

Viewed generically, the State of the Union address is characterized liy three processes: (1) public meditations on values, (2) assessments of luformation and issues, and (3) policy recommendations. Each address

11 ·orporates, to varying degrees, specific characteristics related to 1•11 ·h of these processes. In the course of meditating, assessing, andrec- 111111ncnding, presidents also create and celebrate a national ident ity, ti I 111 ‘ther the past, present, and future, and sustain the presidential rol . I 11 I he remainder of this chapter, we use the processes of meditation, 1 , •ssment, and recomm nd tion to organize our analysis, after whl h w · n ider the ways In whi •h th ‘S addresses work to create and sus· t 111 11 I h pr sldcn y.


Structurally, the annual message resembles the loosely defined but clearly recognizable form of the essay. Its underlying organization arises out of links between the three processes we have described. Meditations on values lead to assessments, which are frequently assess- ments of issues that have persisted through time, and those, in turn, lead to recommendations. The specific assessments and recommenda- tions are the ephemera ofU.S . history; the values developed in the pub- lic meditations ar’.e an enduring record of the creation and development of our national identity.10

The first key element of State of the Union addresses is meditation on underlying values. Such public meditations exemplify the symbolic processes by which a collectivity of individuals comes to see itself as an entity- a group, a community, a nation- with an identity that unifies its members and distinguishes them as a group. Public meditations in- clude a retelling of the past that emphasizes shared experience in order to create a collective fiction, an ethos or national character.

The nation’s history has made repeated efforts to create a national identity necessary. What became the United States began as thirteen distinct colonies with separate governments, separate histories, and a common resistance to federal power. Sectional differences, rising lev- els of immigration, the displacements of westward migration, urban- ization, and industrialization, and the dispersal of the population over large expanses of territory intensified the need for unifying symbolic events. State of the Union addresses are not the only rhetoric, nor even the only presidential rhetoric, in which meditations on the character of the nation appear, but the annual message has been, from the outset, one symbolic moment in which the head of state has woven the cloth of common national history, character, and identity.

Confronted with the problems of inflation, unemployment, war, poverty- problems beyond the ken of any single citizen- the State of the Union address boldly assures the citizenry that, in the future as in the past, Americans will solve their problems. The address reaf- firms that the citizenry can and will “establish a more perfect Union,” that Horatio Alger lives on in the national spirit, that the Protestant work ethic endures. This powerful reaffirmation appeared even in th annual messages of failing presidents, such as Andrew Johnson; even in times of national uncertainty, such as the Great Depression; even when problems had long proved intractable, such as the inflation of’ the 1970s; and even in addresses, such as Ford’s in 1975, that begun by claiming that the state of the Union wns not f\OOd . No pr ·sid ·nt ,


no matter how pessimistic or how severe the crisis, has ever reported that the state of the Union was such that its problems could not be surmounted.

In articulating fundamental values, presidents urge the audience to celebrate a certain national ethos. In his first message, for example, Franklin Roosevelt commented, “Disorder is not an American habit. Self-help and self-control are the essence of the American tradition- not of necessity the form of that tradition, but its spirit” (3:2810 ). In his seventh message, Truman reminded the nation,

In all we do, we should remember who we are and what we stand for. We are

Americans. Our forefathers had far greater obstacles than we have, and

much poorer chances of success. They did not lose heart, or turn aside from

their goals. In that darkest of all winters in American history, at Valley Forge,

George Washington said: “We must not, in so great a contest, expect to meet

with nothing but sunshine.” With that spirit they won their fight for freedom.

We must have that same faith and vision. (3 :2993)

State of the Union addresses often include definitions of exemplary 11 lti tudes and conduct for the citizenry. In his third annual message, for Instance, Jefferson asked citizens to

adopt individually the views, the interests, and the conduct which their coun-

try should pursue, divesting themselves of those passions and partialities which

Lend to lessen useful fr iendships and to embarrass and embroil us in the calami-

tous scenes of Europe. (1:73)

More than a century later, Wilson echoed Jefferson’s views:

‘l11ere are some men among us, and many resident abroad who, though born and

bred in the United States and calling themselves Americans, have so forgotten

themselves and their honor as citizens as to put their passionate sympathy wilh

one or the other side in the great European conflict above their regard for the

pence and dignity of the United States. (3:2573)

/\s they meditate on values, annual messages become instru tiv ‘. 1 \t’t•a use any government requires some means of support, early . n 11 ·sscs authorized duli son various items, and if Washington’s third 111t•ss 11 re is taken nt it s wrn·d, “·nli rhl ‘ned and wcll-disp scd ·itiz •ns”

pon led w •II. Nrnu 1 ltc le , I Ii 1• · wns som c.lissntisfi1 ·tion. ;iv •11


“proper explanations and more just apprehensions of the true nature of the law,” Washington was confident that discontent would “in all [citizens] give way to motives which arise out of a just sense of duty and a virtuous regard to the public welfare” (1:9). In effect, the first presi- dent was instructing his fellow citizens about how to respond to gov- ernment initiatives. Because taxation had helped to precipitate revolt against Great Britain, Washington was also careful to instruct Con- gress on the impoutance of popular support for government policy:

If there are any circumstances in the law which consistently with its main de-

sign may be so varied as to remove any well intentioned objections that may

happen to exist, it will consist with a wise moderation to make the proper varia-

tions. It is desirable on all occasions to unite with a steady and firm adherence

to constitutional and necessary acts of government the fullest evidence of a

disposition as far as may be practicable to consult the wishes of every part of

the community and to lay the foundations of the public administration in the

affections of the people. (1:9 – 10)

Similarly, in his second annual message, after setting down the prin- ciples that should control the process of governance, Jefferson said, “By continuing to make these the rule of our action we shall endear to our countrymen the true principles of their Constitution and promote a union of sentiment and of action equally auspicious to their happiness and safety” (1:68). In a letter to Washington dated January 4, 1786, Jef- ferson wrote that it was axiomatic that liberty is safe only in the hands of the people, but added that the people required “a certain degree of instruction. This it is the business of the state to effect on a general plan.” 11

In public meditation, presidents also explore the meaning of our sys- tem of government, and here the link between the past and the future is apparent in most of the addresses. Reflection about the past yields reconsideration of the principles that should govern present decision making about the future. Meditation and reconsideration reassure the audience that the president’s legislative recommendations are the prod- uct of careful consideration, not partisan passion or momentary whim. Franklin Roosevelt’s 1944 address provides a particularly artful illus- tration of this set of moves:

This Republic had its beginnings, and grew to its prcsc nl st reng th, under Lh ‘

protection of ce rta in inalienab le poli tica l rights 11111 0 11 11 1 lwm I h right nl’


free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable

searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however-as our industrial

economy expanded-these political rights proved inadequate to assure us

equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom

cannot exist without economic security and independence . . . . In our day these .

economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so

to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and pros-

perity can be established for all-regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recre- ation; …

I ask the Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill

ofrights. (3:2881)

Another value celebrated in these messages is bipartisanship. In his L995 State of the Union address, delivered after Republicans gained control of the Senate, Bill Clinton made this plea: “My fellow Ameri- cans, without regard to party, let us rise to the occasion. Let us put aside partisanship and pettiness and pride. As we embark on this new course, let us put our country first, remembering that regardless of party label, we are all Americans.” 12 Similarly, in 2002, George W. Bush said, “I’m 11 proud member of my party. Yet as we act to win the war, protect our people, and create jobs in America, we must act, first and foremost, not 11s Republicans, not as Democrats but as Americans.” 13

In 2003, George W. Bush celebrated basic national values as ensur- 1 n g success in the “war on terror”:

l hroughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nu-

1·ions, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and in timi –

date the world. In each case, their ambitions of cruelty and murder had no limit.

In each case, the ambitions ofHitlerism, militarism, and communism we re I •-

lt.:utcd by the will of free peoples, by the strength of great all iances, and by the might of the Uni ted States of J\ mcrica. 14

S · ·ond, me li1 11 1lrn 11. 11 111 1<' ol' lh · Union ·ldd rcsscs I ·n I to 11 ss ·ss lll l'nts. In this 11·111 1, II 11 11 l1111111111 1• p 11H't'Ss to th , ncx l , p l' •s idl'nl s 1111< • 144 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES stock of enduring national issues, such as foreign affairs, commerce, civil rights, or immigration, linking current, past, and future addresses and linking the concerns of their presidencies with those of past and fu- ture presidents. The sense that presidents are temporary occupants of an ongoing institution is strong. Herbert Hoover expressed it this way in a speech in Detroit on October 22, 1932: No man can b~ President without looking back upon the effort given to the country by the thirty Presidents who in my case have preceded me. No man of imagination can be President without thinking of what shall be the course of his country under the thirty more Presidents who will follow him. He must think of himself as a link in the long chain of his country's destiny, past, and future. 15 State of the Union addresses thus become vehicles through which presidents address issues that persist through time. This is most ap - parent in their final State of the Union addresses, many of which have included farewell remarks. Truman, for example, took stock of endur- ing issues in his last message, which was also his farewell address to Congress: Let all of us pause now, think back, consider carefully the meaning of our na- tional experience . . .. The Nation's business is never finished. The basic ques- tions we have been dealing with, these eight years, present themselves anew. That is the way of our society. Circumstances change and current questions take on different forms, new complications, year by year. But underneath the great issues remain the same-prosperity, welfare, human rights, effective de- mocracy, and, above all, peace. (3:3010) This linking of the past and future combines deliberation with Con- gress over prudent policies in the present with discussion of how cur- rent conditions compare with those in the nation's history. In such as- sessments, presidents discuss the changing functions of the presidency through time, refining the country's central precepts and reforming its goals. In his fourth annual message, for example, Franklin Pierce explained, Our forefathers were trained to the wisdom which conceived and the courage which achieved independence by the circumstances which surrounded them, and they were thus made capable of the crcuti n of' th • Hr p111ll l ·. ll dcvolv ·d STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES * 145 on the next generation to consolidate the work of the Revolution, to deliver the country entirely from the influences of conflicting transatlantic partialities or antipathies which attached to our colonial and Revolutionary history, and to organize the practical operation of the constitutional and legal institutions of the Union. To us of this generation remains the not less noble task of maintain- ing and extending the national power. We have at length reached the stage of our country's career in which the dangers to be encountered and the exertions to be made are the incidents, not of weakness, but of strength. (1:938) In 2004, George W. Bush linked the war in Iraq to the nation's past: We have not come all this way-through tragedy, and trial, and war- only to falter and leave our work unfinished .... The work of building a new Iraq is hard, and it is right. And America has always been willing to do what it takes for what is right. '6 These presidential assessments address questions of continuity and ·hange. How much change, they ask, can there, or should there, be in lhe system? In 1996, Clinton addressed this question when he said, 1be era of big Government is over. But we cannot go back to the time when ow· citizens were left to fend for themselves. Instead, we must go forward as on • America, one nation working together to meet the challenges we face together. Self-reliance and teamwork are not opposing virtues; we must have both. 17 In 1997, he again spoke of the challenges posed by change: ·111e new promise of the global economy, the information age, unimagined new work, life-enhancing technology, all these are ours to seize. That is our honor und our challenge. We must be shapers of events, not observers. For if we do not act, the moment will pass, and we will lose the best possibilities of our f'uture. 18 In 2005, George W. Bush made this assessment, which also link ·d rnntinuity and change: Soc ial Security was a great moral success of the 20th centur y, and w • 11111 t honor its great purpos ·s in u new century. 1he sys tem, however, on its curr •111 pulh, is hcudcd tow11 rd llll 11lm 1pt ·y. And so we must join togc lh r lo st1· •11 gthr 11 11 11d snvc Socl11 I 11•111 II y '" 146 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES Here assessment leads directly to recommendation, as illustrated below. George W. Bush's January 24, 2007, State of the Union address il- lustrates the ways in which these addresses, too, can be part of an extended rhetorical act. In this case, the president used his Saturday radio address of January 20 to introduce the health care reform pro- posal that would be an important part of his domestic proposals in his State of the Union a~dress. 20 In response, Democrats declared that they would not support his proposals to revise the federal tax code to pro- vide incentives for individuals to buy health insurance. Nonetheless, in his Saturday radio address on February 17, Bush again urged Congress to create a tax break to enable people to purchase private health insur- ance outside the workplace, a policy that he continued to promote while on the road in Tennessee, urging citizens to support his proposal in or- der to prompt congressional consideration. 21 With assessments of the need for change, the third element of State of the Union addresses emerges: the recommendation o'flegislative ini- tiatives and their justification. Bush's 2007 address illustrates this ele- ment as well. In assessing the need for change, presidents confront the gap between the promises of the founding documents and the coun- try's performance. The Constitution is an amalgam of concepts that have taken on meaning as they were called into question, defined, and put into practice. In the recommendations found in annual messages, one hears a government in the act of creating itself That is palpable in the early addresses. "A free people ought not only to be armed, but dis- ciplined,'' said Washington in his first annual message, "to which end a uniform and well-designed plan is requisite; and their safety and in- terest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies,'' and he added, "Uniformity in the currency, weights, and measures of the United States is an object of great importance, and will, I am persuaded, be duly attended to" (1:2, 3). Occasionally, presidents frame their recommendations as indict- ments of the country for failing to live up to its promises to all ofits citi- zens. 22 For example, in an impassioned moment in his first annual mes- sage, Benjamin Harrison asked, When and under what conditions is the black [sic] man to have a free ballot'? When is he in fact to have those full civil rights which h•ive so long been his in law'? When is that cquulity of influence whi ·h ou1· fhrn1 oJ' 11ov ·rnmcnl w1 1, STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES * 147 intended to secure to the electors to be restored'? This generation should cou- rageously face these grave questions, and not leave them as a heritage of woe to the next. (2:1651) The issue of guaranteeing equality of opportunity has also been framed in economic terms. Theodore Roosevelt, for example, consid- ered the unequal distribution of goods in his fifth annual message: We can get justice and right dealing only if we put as of paramount importance the principle of treating a man on his worth as a man rather than with reference to his social position, his occupation or the class to which he belongs. There are selfish and brutal men in all ranks of life. If they are capitalists their selfish- ness and brutality may take the form of hard indifference to suffering, greedy disregard of every moral restraint which interferes with the accumulation of wealth, and the cold-blooded exploitation of the weak; or, if they are laborers, the form oflaziness, of sullen envy of the more fortunate, and of willingness to perform deeds of murderous violence .... Individual capitalist and individual wage-worker, corporation and union are alike entitled to the protection of the law, and must alike obey the law. Moreover, in addition to mere obedience to the law, each man, ifhe be really a good citizen, must show broad sympathy for his neighbor and genuine desire to look at any question arising between them from the standpoint of that neighbor no less than from his own. (3:2155) Si.milarly, when Roosevelt argued for a progressive inheritance tax in his seventh annual message, he did so in the name of equality. His ci- 1 ti ti on of Lincoln as precedent illustrates the use of past presidential statements as a major source of evidence: O ur aim is to recognize what Lincoln pointed out: The fact that there are some respects in which men are obviously not equal; but also to insist that there should be an equality of self-respect and of mutual respect, an equality of rights be- fo re the law, and at least an approximate equality in the conditions under which each man obtains the chance to show the stuff that is in him when compared to his fellows. (3:2255) In his 1948 message, Truman also considered the question of equol- 11 y in civil rights: Our firs t goal ls to . l' t'11rt' l'11ily th • ·ssc11tia l huma n rights of our illz •ns. 'lh lJ nit •d Swt •s h11 11 lw11y ii 11 111 d1't p t' Oi ll' ·1·11 for hu11111n l'if ht s . . ,. Any I ·nl ol 148 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES of human rights is a denial of the basic beliefs of democracy and of our regard for the worth of each individual. Today, however, some of our citizens are still denied equal opportunity for education, for jobs and economic advancement, and for the expression of their views at the polls. Most serious of all, some are denied equal protection under our laws. Whether discrimination is based on race, or creed, or color, or land of origin, it is utterly contrary to American ideals of democracy. (3:2952) ' Lacking supp01:t for legislative action, Truman expressed this concern in his Executive Order 9981 of July 26, 1948, establishing the Presi- dent's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Forces, which began the process of their desegregation. John F. Kennedy responded to the civil rights protests in the spring of 1963 with a televised special message on June 11, in which he adopted a role of national priest similar to that assumed in national eulogies in or- der to argue that the nation confronted a "moral crisis as a country and as a people," a crisis requiring individual as well as legislative actio~. 23 Capitalizing on Kennedy's assassination to urge passage of the pending civil rights bill, Lyndon Johnson seized a propitious moment in his first annual message: Let me make one principle of this administration abundantly clear. All of these increased opportunities- in employment, in education, in housing, and in every field-must be open to Americans of every color. As far as the writ of Federal law will run, we must abolish not some but all racial discrimination .... For this is not merely an economic issue-or a social, political, or international issue. It is a moral issue; and it must be met by the passage this session of the bill now pending in the House. (3:3159) Then, in three sentences, Johnson summarized his views, appropriat- ing memorable phrases from the speeches of presidents Kennedy and Wilson: In establishing preferences, a nation that was built by the immigrants of all lands can ask those who now seek admission: "What can you do for our coun· try?" But we should not be asking: "In what country were you born?" For our ultimate goal is a world without war, a world made safe for diversity, in whi h all men, goods, and ideas can freely move across every border and every bou nc.l ary. (3:3160) STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES * 149 In 1997, illustrating the ways in which issues recur through time, Clinton also developed this theme, linking it to attitudes toward immigrants: My fellow Americans, we must never, ever believe that our diversity is a weak- ness. It is our greatest strength. Americans speak every language, know every country. People on every continent can look to us and see the reflection of their own great potential, and they always will, as long as we strive to give all of our citizens, whatever their background, an opportunity to achieve their own greatness. We're not there yet. We still see evidence of abiding bigotry and in- tolerance in ugly words and awful violence, in burned churches and bombed buildings. We must fight against this, in our country and in our hearts. 24 Generally, as these cases illustrate, the State of the Union address presents proposed legislation as the solution to a persistent problem with national implications. As part of the process of justifying a legis- lative program, the address becomes the occasion on which presidents adjust members of Congress and the public to new circumstances. "This country can not afford to sit supine on the plea that under our peculiar system of government we are helpless in the presence of new condi- tions,'' said Theodore Roosevelt in his second annual message (2:2056). When presidents argue that the system must respond to new condi- tions, they do so either in the name of compelling facts reflected in a specific instance or in the name of fundamental premises they believe 11re shared by their audience. For example, Roosevelt continued, "The power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce is an absolute and ll nqualified grant." Hence, he concluded that "under the power of Con- gress to regulate commerce among the separate states,'' Congress can prevent "monopolies, unjust discriminations which prevent or cripple vompetition, fraudulent over-capitalization, and other evils in trust or- gu nizations and practices" (2:2056). Franklin Roosevelt developed a similar line of argument in 1944 when he proclaimed a new economic bill of rights to complement the political Bill of Rights that had shaped I hc country to that point. When legislative proposals constitute major innovations, they ar' justified in the name of evolution. That point is illustrated well by what ' I h ·odore Roosevelt said in his third annual message: Wr.:. have cause us :i 11 11 1 ion to h • 1 l11111ld'til for the steps that huve so su · · ·ssf"ully wk ·n to p11 1 lilt• t p1 1ll"lplt• 1111 0 ·ll'c t. "111t: pro~rcss hns [l • •n lly 150 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES evolution, not by revolution. Nothing radical has been done; the action has been both moderate and resolute. Therefore the work will stand. There shall be no backward step. Ifin the working of the laws it proves desirable that they shall at any point be expanded or amplified, the amendment can be made as its desir- ability is shown. 25 (2:2076) The issues featuredin State of the Union addresses over time reflect the development iofthe country and its institutions. In them we find the patterns isolated. by political scientist Theodore Lowi, who observes that certain public policy concerns have been linked to certain his- torical periods in the United States. The messages of the founders were concerned with constituent (state-building) policies, such as avoiding entangling alliances and encouraging manufacturing. Through most of the nineteenth century, the messages focused on distributive policies; the development ofland and of rivers and harbors was among the topics treated. Then, in the late nineteenth century, questions of regulating re- sources emerged, such as those leading to the founding of the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887. During the New Deal, the messages had a redistributive cast, and post-New Deal messages have blended the four types. 26 Regardless of party or period, however, presidents have read the constitutional provision as an opportunity to link their messages to proposed legislation, almost as if they had rewritten the Constitution to read that the president "shall, from time to time, give to the Congress information on the state of the Union to enable the President to recom- mend for their consideration such measures as are deemed necessary and expedient." For instance, in 1964, Lyndon Johnson said, "Wages and prof- its and family income are also at their highest levels in history- but I would remind you that 4 million workers and 13 percent of our indus- trial capacity are still idle. We need a t ax cut now to keep this country moving" (3:3159 ). This linkage mirrors that made by Washington when he said, The militia laws have exhibited such striking defects as could not have been supplied but by the zeal of our citizens. Besides the extraordinary expense and waste, which are not the least of the defects, every appeal to those laws is at· tended with a doubt on its success . The devising and establishing of a well regu · lated militia would be a genuine source oflegislative honor nnd n perfect tit le lo public gratitude. I therefo re ente r tu in a hope thul l h pr ·s 111 s ·ssion wi ll no l STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES * 151 pass without carrying to its full energy the power of organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia, and thus providing, in the language of the Constitution, for calling them forth to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions. (1:25) In 2002, George W. Bush said, "For the sake of long-term growth and to help Americans plan for the future, let's make these tax cuts per- manent." 27 In 2005, he noted, America's prosperity requires restraining the spending appetite of the fed · eral government. I welcome the bipartisan enthusiasm for spending discipline. So next week I will send you a budget that holds the growth of discretionary spending below inflation, makes tax relief permanent, and stays on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.28 PR ESERVING AND STRENGTHENING THE PRESIDENCY "Through public meditation, assessment, and policy recommendations, tate of the Union addresses sustain the presidency. Taken together, meditating on values, assessing conditions to define problems, and recommending solutions in the form of policy proposals constitute an opening move in a struggle for political power between the executive and legislative branches of government. Throughout the history of this ·ountry, Congresses and presidents have jockeyed for power, and State of the Union addresses have been an important weapon in that strug- gle. Even in periods when presidential power was at an ebb, the State of the Union address affirmed the executive's role in the legislative pro· ·css. The message, regardless ofits author, is a way of ensuring that, al I ·ast once each year, Congress will acknowledge the president's legisla- 1 ive prerogatives. In this sense, the State of the Union address sustains 11nd maintains the presidency. Its delivery also ensures that once each y ·a r the head of the government will pause to consider where the na- llon stands and where it is going. Moreover, as a yearly vehicle, the mes- •11ge invites an assessment of how one year's agenda is related to thos · ol' preceding years. 'll1e submission of a legislative program to Congress implies that lh • president is commilted to the use of power t hrough auth riz ·d d111 11 ncls- that cxu·no1·dinnry powers will not be arrogated to th · • •1·11tiv " 111c r 'P ·11 1 •d 11 .• 1•1•t 1011 t li nt th s legis lative init iutiv s 111· • ·on I It utlonn l r ·111!11·11 1 1It11 I It p1 d<'n l Is k · •pinv th · 011 1'1 of' ol!I ·· by 152 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES proposing legislation and acting from principles that preserve and pro- tect the Constitution. In State of the Union addresses, one observes presidents justifying their initiatives on the basis of a changing view of what the Constitu- tion permits. A majority of the arguments found in these addresses ad- vocate or justify actions clearly authorized by the Constitution, such as presidential funding requests and policy recommendations. Particu- larly in the early •.days of the republic, presidents called for actions not specifically authorized by the Constitution but potentially warranted by it. In some instances, their recommendations overstepped specific constitutional provisions, in which case, while inviting congressional concurrence in their views, presidents argued that the public well- being required action. In his first annual message in 1797, John Adams remarked that he had considered convening the national legislature somewhere other than Philadelphia "on account of the contagious sickness which afflicted the city." Fortunately, "without hazard to the lives or health of the mem- bers," Congress was able to assemble there (1:40). Crises such as this one, unanticipated by the framers, prompted presidents to ask whether and in what ways they or others were empowered to respond. By 1798, Adams had found an answer. He was grateful, he reported, that "the alarming and destructive pestilence with which several of our towns have been visited" had disappeared (1:44). Because the illness had rav- aged some seaports and interrupted public and private business, Ad- ams thought it his duty to invite the Legislature of the Union to examine the expediency of establish- ing suitable regulations in aid of the health laws of the respective States; for these being formed on the idea that contagious sickness may be communicated through the channels of commerce, there seems to be a necessity that Congress, who alone can regulate trade, should frame a system which, while it may tend to preserve the general health, may be compatible with the interests of commerce and the safety of the revenue. (1:44) The argument that circumstances necessitate congressional action is common in State of the Union addresses. "Congress witnessed at thcil' late session the extraordinary agitation produced in the public mind by the suspension of our right of deposit at the port of New Orleans, no assignment of another place having been made accord ing to t reaty," STATE OF THE UN ION ADDRESSES * 153 noted Jefferson in his third message. Through "friendly and reasonable re~res.entations," the "right of deposit was restored." This crisis brought a srgmficant realization, said Jefferson: "We had not been unaware of the danger to which our peace would be perpetually exposed whilst so important a key to commerce of the Western country remained under foreign power" (1:69). This realization was a key rationale for the Loui- siana Purchase. 29 When proposed policies will have significant consequences, presi- dents reveal those consequences in an attempt to counter potential objections. The Louisiana Purchase, for example, was expected to add $13,000,000 to the public debt. Using arguments familiar to modern readers, Jefferson claimed that this obligation could be met by the "or- dinary annual augmentation of impost from increasing population and wealth," by "economies which may still be introduced into our publi · expenditures," and without "recurring to new taxes" (1:71). The first invocation of extraconstitutional power occurred under J ef- ferson, known in his battles with Alexander Hamilton as a "strict con- structionist." On June 22, 1807, during a congressional recess, a British ship shot at the U.S.S. Chesapeake. Several of the Chesapeake's crew wer • killed and four were captured, one of whom was executed. Jefferson re- sponded to these events by purchasing military materiel to cope with the emergency. In his annual message, on October 27, Jefferson justified his actions: The moment our peace was threatened I deemed it indispensable to secure 11 greater provision of those articles of military stores with which our magazin ·s were not sufficiently furnished. To have awaited a previous and special sunc- tion by law would have lost occasions which might not be retrieved . I did not hesitate, therefore, to authorize engagements for such supplements to our ex- isting stock as would render it adequate to the emergencies threatening us, unc.I I trust that the Legislature, feeling the same anxiety for the safety of our coun- try, so materially advanced by this precaution, will approve, when done, whut they would have seen so important to be done if then assembled. Expenses, n lso unprovided for, arose out of the necessity of calling all our gunboats into ac tu nl service for the defense of our harbors; all of which accounts will be laid bclbr • you. (1:92) Implied in th is slut •rn •n1 is n ·lnim that Jefferson later mud• • pli ·i t II his Writings: lhlll ill Ill lilt I'/' 'II •y, when the SLlfcty of lh 'Olllllf'y 154 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES cannot be secured under the written law, the written law may be set aside temporarily to save the system of government constituted by that written law. "To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law," wrote Jefferson, "would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property, and all those who are enjoying them with us." 30 These examples illustrate that annual messages are part of the main- tenance and evolution of the presidency and of its powers. Because its end is legislative enactment-that is, because power must be shared- the State of the Union address stresses cooperation with Congress and is conciliatory in tone. Because congressional collaboration is essential if recommendation is not to be an empty exercise, the message presup- poses, applauds, or pleads for teamwork and often tacitly invites the eavesdropping national audience to make its support for legislation known to the members of Congress. Jefferson's pledge of cooperation in his first message was subtle and elegant: Nothing shall be wanting on my part to inform as far as in my power the legisla- tive judgment, nor to carry that judgment into faithful execution. The prudence and temperance of your discussions will promote within your own walls that conciliation which so much befriends rational conclusion, and by its example will encourage among our constituents that progress of opinion which is tend- ing to unite them in object and in will. (1:63-64) In his seventh message, Madison said, "In all measures having such objects my faithful cooperation will be afforded" (1:139 ). Andrew Jack- son, whose relations with Congress were often troubled, concluded his fifth annual message by saying, Trusting that your deliberation on all topics of general interest to which I have adverted, and such others as your more extensive knowledge of the wants of our beloved country may suggest, may be crowned with success, I tender you in conclusion the cooperation which it may be in my power to afford them. (1:388) Tensions with Congress were reflected m the tone of his seventh address: With these observations on the topics of general interest which a rc dccmc 1 worthy of your considerat ion, 1 leave them to your 11rt•, t n1 stinµ; th 11 l th · STAT E O F THE U N ION ADDRESSES * 155 legislative measures they call for will be met as the wants and best interests of our beloved country demand. (1:445) Wilson's break with the tradition of written messages, in place since Jefferson, occurred in part because he believed that oral delivery cre- ated a climate conducive to cooperation. On April 8, 1913, he appeared in person to deliver his first major address , a special message on tariff reform, before both houses of Congress. He opened that tradition- breaking address with these words: I am very glad indeed to have this opportunity to address the two houses di- rectly and to verify for myself the impression that the President of the United States is a person, not a mere department of the government hailing Congress from some isolated island of jealous power, sending messages, not speaking nat- urally and with his own voice-that he is a human being trying to cooperate with other human beings in a common service. 31 Although proposals in the State of the Union address presuppose cooperation between the executive and the legislature and a posture of bipartisan leadership, some addresses have not been conciliatory. Truman's 1948 message, for example, was a blueprint for the coming campaign. Truman aide George Elsey had recommended that the ad- dress "be controversial as hell, must state the issues of the election, must draw the line sharply between Republicans and Democrats. ' l11e Democratic platform will stem from it, and the election will be fought on the issues it presents." 32 The speech was crafted to aehiev · hose ends. Truman was in conflict with Congress through most of his tenure.:, nnd his annual messages reflect that conflict. In his fifth message, lor ·xample, he said, "At present, largely because of the ill-considered tnx 1·cduction of the Eightieth Congress, the Government is not receivin r ·nough revenue to meet its necessary expenditures" (3:2975). Dcspi t • 1 his ongoing tension, there were cooperative and conciliatory remarks n his ot her addresses. In his fourth, for example, he said t hat he hop •u for the cooperation of farmers, labor, and business and added thal cv ·ry . •gment of t he population had "a right to expect t hat the ongrcss u n I I h ·President will work in the closest cooperation wit h one objcc li v · I ii ·welfare of th · p ·opl ·of' l his Nation as a whole. In the m nlhs uh •11tl I know Lhal I sh11 ll lw 111!11• lo t•oop '1«llc with Lhc , ngr ·ss" (;'1:29< 7). t ·r, his n11 •1 11. 111•1 111111 1 ·1• 11 11 1oi· • ·x pli ·it. In his six l11 111 ·ss111• ·, 156 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES Truman asked "the Congress for unity in these crucial days" in a pas- sage that had overtones of a lecture: When I request unity, what I am really asking for is a sense of responsibility on the part of every Member of this Congress. Let us debate the issues, and let every man among us weigh his words and deeds. There is a sharp difference be- tween harmful criticism and constructive criticism. If we are truly responsible as individuals, I atn sure that we will be unified as a government. Let us keep our eyes on the issues and work for the things we all believe in. Let each of us put our country ahead of our part, and ahead of our own personal interests. I had the honor to be a Member of the Senate during World War II, and I know from experience that unity of purpose and of effort is possible in the Congress without any lessening of the vitality of the two-party system. Let us all stand together as Americans. (3:2983) Presidential appeals for cooperation and bipartisanship, as noted above, are surprisingly direct and personal; indeed, these addresses evince the kinds of stylistic markers ordinarily associated with oral de- livery, even in speeches written to be read. 33 If the citizenry can be mobilized behind a proposal, the likelihood of congressional cooperation increases. Conscious of the power of popular support, presidents in the electronic age have attempted to reach both Congress and the people.34 In1944, for example, Franklin Roosevelt deliv- ered his annual address to Congress at noon, but repeated the same mes- sage over radio in the evening. He introduced the radio address this way: Only a few of the newspapers can print this message in full, and I am very anx- ious that the American people be given the opportunity to hear what I have rec- ommended to Congress for this fateful year in our history-and the reasons for those recommendations. Here is what I said. 35 He then redelivered the message read earlier to Congress. Televised addresses have become the norm in the modern presidency, but Eisenhower reported that he had rejected a proposal for his address to be televised in prime time. His concern was the balance of power between the executive and Congress: "On January 7, 1954, I delivered my annual State of the Union message. Three days earlier I disapproved a suggestion that I deliver t his message, for the fi rst t ime in history, at night on television: such an innovation, I felt, would reflect badly on th • Congress." 36 STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES * 157 As we have illustrated, State of the Union addresses, which assert presidential legislative leadership while seeking congressional coop- eration, also perform symbolic functions for the presidency as an insti- tution. Because they include meditations on the values underlying as- sessments and recommendations, and because the address is an annual ritual, arbitrarily called into existence by the calendar, annual messages are a complex rhetorical genre, with purposes that are both ceremonial and deliberative. As a result, the State of the Union address presents a problem to critics as well as to presidents, even when approached ge- nerically: how to balance its ceremonial and deliberative purposes. An- thony Dolan, Ronald Reagan's chief speechwriter, put it this way: "It 's a difficult, difficult speech to do, because you have all the competing claims of the nation's business, and at the same time, the stylistic de- mands of coherence and grace." 37 Political scientist J effiey Tulis notes that "it is difficult in practice for a single speech to be inspirational and highly specific at the same time." 38 Articulating the values from which assessments are made and describing the character of the occasion call forth ceremonial rhetoric. Asserting legislative leadership by setting policy priorities necessitates deliberative rhetoric. The importance of ceremonial elements is indisputable: if the president's meditations fail to rehearse the values that form the criteria on which assessments arc made, the policy recommendations have no clear basis. Initiating poli- cies, however, is similarly crucial if the president is to assert legislativ leadership, particularly insofar as that leadership involves constituenl opinion and the pressure it can exert on members of Congress. If policies are not proposed, the speech comes to resemble the inaugural, and pres- idential legislative leadership must be asserted by other means, if at all. W e end our analysis of the State of the Union address with a cas study that focuses on the annual messages of Ronald Reagan as con· Lrasted with those of Lincoln, Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt.39 It E AG A N'S INFLUENCE Ilonald Reagan's seven annual messages illustrate the problem of bn l· 1111cing t he concerns we have just outlined.4° Reagan's speeches w •r · l' TCmonial successes. Throughout his tenure, he adopted a posiliv tone, managing present problems by framing them as cha llenges r by l11slify ing t hem in t ·rn1s of' ·h rished values, such a asking 1\111 •ri ·11 11 s to weigh the in ·1· 11. liq f' •d1 •1·1d d •ficit against the va lues of p ·n · ·, fj· • • dom, nn Is ' ·111·!1 y 11 1 11 ii 11111 i·dot •s, llvin{' p ·rsons, nnd ·v •nts, s 11 ·h 158 * STATE OF THE UN ION ADDRESSES as the deaths of the Challenger space shuttle crew, to extol basic values and to redefine the people as heroes, techniques that have been institu- tionalized by his successors. Reagan retold national history to applaud the country as the "last and greatest bastion of freedom" and rein- forced his version of the past with the words of his predecessors, such as Washington, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. In short, his public medita- tions were exemplary. Consider the conclusion to his 1987 address: Our revolution is the first to say the people are the masters and government is their servant. Don't ever forget that. Someday, you could be in this room, but wherever you are, America is depending on you to reach your highest and be your best, because here, in America, we the people are in charge .... We the people. Starting the third century of a dream and standing up to some cynic who's trying to tell us we're not going to get any better. Are we at the end? Or are we at the beginning? Well, I can't tell it any better than the real thing, a moment recorded by James Madison from the final moments of the Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787. As the last few members signed the document, Benjamin Franklin-the oldest delegate at 81 years, and in frail health-looked over towards the chair where George Washington daily presided. At the back of the chair was painted the picture of a sun on the hori- zon. Turning to those sitting next to him, Franklin observed that artists found it difficult in their painting to distinguish between a rising and a setting sun. I know if we were there, we could see those delegates sitting around Frank- lin, leaning in to listen more closely to him. Then Dr. Franklin began to share his deepest hopes and fe ars about the outcome of their efforts, and this is what he said: "I have often ... looked at that picture behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happi- ness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun." You can bet it's rising because, my fellow citizens, America isn't finished, her best days have just begun. 4 1 This passage is typical of Reagan's State of the Union addresses, but it also captures the essence of the public meditations we have described, meditations that reaffirm and redefine our national identity and values and that instruct the citizenry about the nation's beginnings as a means to confirm its future. It perfectly fulfills ceremonial functions while re- hearsing the values underlying the president's assessments. Reagan's 1987 message, however, like his others, was short on poli ·y proposals, sharply tilting the character of the address toward the cc r cmonial und awuy from ti c deliberative. As u r •s ull , H •ng11n's ' of' STATE OF THE UN ION ADDRESSES * 159 the Union addresses did not enhance his legislative leadership. From his first address in 1982 to his last in 1988, Reagan followed a consistent pattern of setting out positions but avoiding detailed policy propos- als, 42 in effect describing the legislative ends of which he approved, but neglecting to specify the means by which they could be achieved. •3 For the most part, he identified only those policies the administration would eschew. Insofar as he attempted to exert legislative leadership, he deliv- ered special messages, 44 prepared separate written documents for de- livery to Congress, •s or delegated policy details to his staff and cabinet. Reagan's rhetorical choices reflect his presidency. For the most part, he did not emphasize the presidential role of legislative leader, prefer- ring to devote his efforts to raising the morale of the citizenry. As he left office with the highest approval ratings of any president in the pre- ceding forty years, some concluded that he had not risked his personal popularity to achieve legislative ends, preferring to avoid conflict and to heighten a sense of national unity. 46 Reagan's choices also highlight the problems posed for presidents by this rhetorical genre. The electronic media have shortened the av- erage American's attention span, with the result that orally delivered presidential speeches are expected to fall within the half-hour limit of shorter television programs, a length that makes it extremely dif- ficult to develop and justify major policy proposals. 47 Thus, it may be that Reagan's emphasis on the ceremonial was well adapted to the con- st raints of the orally delivered State of the Union address broadcast to the national audience by television. His decision to adapt this message lo televisual constraints, however, created audience expectations of th· president as national cheerleader, with a concomitant loss oftoleranc' I br the president as initiator of a national legislative program, a role thut I ncvitably generates disagreement and usually erodes a president's per- sona l popularity among some segments of the populace. 48 The variati n 11 mong annual messages, even within the modern presidency, indicat ·s I h tt t presidents have wide latitude in balancing these diverse but rel at ·cl f'11nct ions. 49 11 1.0QUENT EXAMPLES omc presidents have succeeded in combining delibera tive and ccrcnHJ 1111 1 f'unctions in Stnl · ol'th ' Union add resses that arc eloq uent, urtis I l ' wholes. "Jn · 11ddrl' ~. t' nf' l\bra hnrn Lincoln , Wo cl row Wilson, 11 11d Jlr1111 ldi11 Hoos ·v1•lt , 11 111 11 111 111 lw1·s, illust rnt · how 1· •port Inv 011 •v •111. 160 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES can become a vision of the future and how legislative initiatives can be- come proposals that make the future described possible. In his first message, Lincoln listed the policy decisions he had made in response to the Civil War, such as continuing to blockade ports held by insurgents. He also specified the principles that guided him. He had taken care that the "insurrection ... not degenerate into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle" (2:1064). Although presented as a report on the prowess of the war, the narrative about the war at the close of the speech was an argument for Southern responsibility for the conflict, an argument that right was on the side of the Union, and an af- firmation that the Union was prevailing. The report began by subtly affixing blame: "The last ray of hope for preserving the Union peaceably expired at the assault upon Fort Sum- ter." But, he continued, "What was painfully uncertain then is much better defined and more distinct now, and the progress of events is plainly in the right direction" (2:1064). As the speech developed, Lin- coln described difficulties and causes for discouragement and then, in each instance, asserted that they had been overcome, implying that the frustrations currently felt by Congress and the public would also be re- solved. For example, as he reported, The insurgents confidently claimed a strong support from north of Mason and Dixon's line, and the friends of the Union were not free from apprehension on the point. This, however, was soon settled definitely, and on the right side. South of the line noble little Delaware led off right from the first. Maryland was made to seem against the Union. Our soldiers were assaulted, bridges were burned, and railroads torn up within her limits, and we were many days at one time without the ability to bring a single regiment over her soil to the capital. Now her bridges and railroads are repaired and open to the government; she already gives seven regiments to the cause of the Union, and none to the enemy; and her people, at a regular election, have sustained the Union by a larger majority and a larger aggregate vote than they ever before gave to any candidate or any question. (2:1064) Underlying this progression was an argument grounded in repentance and an invitation to his audience to renew their compact with the Union: An insurgent force of about 1,500, for months dominating the nar row peninsu- lar region constituting the counties of J\ccomuc an I North11111p1011 , 11nd known STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES * 161 as the Eastern Shore of Virginia, together with some contiguous parts of Mary- land, have laid down their arms, and the people there have renewed their alle- giance to and accepted the protection of the old flag. (2:1064- 65) One commentator has noted the synthesis of values, assessment, and recommendations in Lincoln's speech: "Under Lincoln's pen, the annual message reached one ofits highest peaks of prestige and consequence." 50 Woodrow Wilson is similarly praised, on ceremonial grounds, as "able to combine an almost poetic simplicity and soaring eloquence with a moral earnestness that impressed his listeners as well as his readers,'' 51 but he was also able to link that eloquence to assessments and recom- mendations, as illustrated by his summary of the events of World War I in his fifth message in order to prepare Congress and the nation for his views of the peace (3:2580-87). Franklin Roosevelt was also able to link values, assessments, and rec- ommendations. In his twelfth address, for example, he reviewed U. military choices in World War II in order to justify his decisions: The tremendous effort of the first years of this war was directed toward the concentration of men and supplies in the various theaters of action at the points where they could hurt our enemies most .... Always- from the very day we were attacked-it was right militarily as we! I as morally to reject the arguments of those shortsighted people who would hav' had us throw Britain and Russia to the Nazi wolves and concentrate against the Japanese. Such people urged that we fight a purely defensive war against Ju· pan while allowing the domination of all the rest of the world by Naziism and Fascism .... Therefore, our decision was made to concentrate the bulk of 01.11' ground and air forces against Germany until her utter defeat. (3:2883-84) I fis review was followed by specific recommendations to Congress, ulong with appeals to the nation: TI1e only way to meet these increased needs for new weapons and more of th 111 is for every American engaged in war work to stay on his war job . .. . This Is nn time to quit or change to less essential jobs. TI1ere is an old and true saying that the Lord hates a quitter. And this Nnl1011 must pay for all those who leave their essential jobs .. .. And- ago in- tl\ 111 payment must be mud • wil h the li fe's blood of our sons ... . Last yeur, 11flc•1 111 111ii1•1111 Id •rn tion, I rec mmended that th · Conw ·ss 11dop t 11 nntlonul s •1 vlC"1' 11 I l111 1w1•1ill11ponth· :ongrcss to •n11c tthls 111 t•11 111•• f111 162 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES the total mobilization of all our human resources for the prosecution of the war. Artistically, Roosevelt's annual messages are unified wholes, and in striving for clarity and appeal as he addressed both Congress and the public, he peppered his speeches with vivid metaphors, parallel con- structions, and familiar quotations from the Bible. 52 In the annual m~ssages of these three great presidents, one sees the integration of ceremonial and deliberative functions and the simultane- ous assertion of symbolic and legislative leadership. 53 Clinton's State of the Union addresses offer a contrast. His messages were famous for being laundry lists of specific plans and policies appeal- ing to various constituencies. One critic noted that "the one unchang- ing element in Clinton's oratory is its mutability- his ability to shift po- litical positions, to change primary colors, and to steal the Republicans' fire even as he gives them a bipartisan Trojan Horse." 54 That effort to appeal to a wide variety of constituencies was echoed in a column by Thomas Friedman, who wrote of the 1999 address that Clinton "left almost no constituency untickled by his 77-minute goody-bag of pro- posals." 55 Reporter Dan Baiz commented, "Saving his presidency has become a regular subtheme of Clinton's State of the Union speeches. That was the case in 1995 after Republicans took control of Congress. It was true again in 1996 when he used the State of the Union address to turn around his political standing and lay the foundation for his reelec- tion campaign." 56 CONCLUSION In a general sense, each annual message is rooted in a president's most recent inaugural. The inaugural lays down the principles that will gov- ern a presidency while demonstrating the president's commitment to the country's basic principles. In State of the Union addresses, presi- dents revive the principles to which they committed their presidencie and show how those principles will be reflected in their legislative pro- grams. Linking of the past and the future, as well as reflection on broad themes, is conducted against the backdrop of those principles. Given the ritualistic character of the annual message and the need to celebrate the values underlying its assessments and recommend<1 · tions, ceremonial rhetoric is appropriate, but given the constituti nul mandate and a need to es tablish prcsidcntinl I 'gislntiv · !cud ·rship, STATE OF THE UN ION ADDRESSES * 163 deliberative rhetoric is needed to justify policy recommendations and to establish legislative priorities. When presidents fulfill the ceremonial functions of the State of the Union address, they define and redefine the national ethos and the na- tion's values, and they instruct the citizenry and Congress in their roles as members of the polity. In so doing, they weave the fabric of a shared national heritage and identity. When the president makes proposals, the reasons given and the legislative outcomes sought reveal that presidency and our system of government as constructed by that administration. The laying out of a legislative program defines the relationship between the president and Congress in the system of checks and balances and defines the presidency in relation to the Constitution. These messages also describe appropriate responses to presidential initiatives for citizens and mem- bers of Congress. In effect, they refine the inaugural's definition of th people to specify how they should behave. In the aggregate, then, these messages are an ongoing cultural dialogue about the nature and pur· poses of our political system. The State of the Union address is a rhetorical act maintaining th presidency. By placing the message of the president before Congress und requiring congressional attention, the address sustains the identi- 1 ies of the two branches. At the same time, the message invites a policy dialogue between the branches and encourages a cooperative relation- ship between them. By referring to the statements of their predeces- sors in these addresses, presidents imply that the presidency is continu · ous, rather than an aggregation of discrete individuals. Reliance on th p:.tst also reassures the listening citizenry by implying that as the nati n weathered problems then, so, too, will it overcome them now. '01e president's legislative proposals emerge out of a political philos- ophy developed in a public meditation on the meaning of our system I' f'Overnment. That meditation links national history to present asscss- 111cnt and future recommendations. Although many State of the Uni n 11 ddresses treat a long list of apparently unrelated topics, the ovcrull I ructure of these addresses is problem-solution, the hallmark of dclib· C' l'!l tive, policy-making rhetoric. As such, this rhetorical genre cxud ·s 1· ·nssurance that the nation's problems can be solved, particularly wilh I his system of government led by this president and supported t y I h • prnplc. Becaus th · solutions require the joint action of ongr 'SS, lh • p1·l·s idcnt's Lon · is 01·dl11 11 ril y ·on iliatory and c mpromisin g, in ·lud 111 ·id ls fb1· 1111d oll 1 111 1 1101w 1·11 1 ion. :oop •rntiv ·ly, lh · pr •s lcl 111 164 * STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESSES and Congress begin a process of deliberation about what problems are amenable to legislative t reatment and what are the proper functions of government. As these addresses appear, they define the role of the pres- ident in legislative enactment and delineate the appropriate grounds for presidential initiatives. The State of the Union address is central to the maintenance of the presidency in two ways. First, the address is delivered on a formal, cere- monial occasion that'.recognizes the president as both symbolic and real head of state. That role gives the president great persuasive force, par- ticularly as the occasion also offers the opportunity to act as national historian, keeper of the national identity, and voice of national values. Second, the address marks the occasion on which the president has the greatest opportunity to exercise legislative leadership, linking national history to present assessments and recommendations for future policy. In this address, the president has the opportunity to appeal forcefully for congressional cooperation, to buttress such appeals with pleas for popular support, and to link the legislative agenda to cultural values underlying the system of government. Presidents' State of the Union addresses are directly related to their inaugural addresses. Thus, those rhetorical genres and the relationships between them constitute one major part, not only of the presidency through time, but of individual presidencies, including their strengths and weaknesses. SE VEN Veto Messages Presidential veto messages are not found in anthologies of public dis- course, nor are they candidates for inclusion in volumes of masterpieces of presidential rhetoric. In most instances, veto messages illuminate the character of the presidency as one part of an interactive rhetorical sys- tem by illustrating the use of persuasive resources by individual presi- dents. As part of the system of checks and balances, the veto message is one means by which presidents act to preserve the system of which they are a part and to sustain the legislative agenda developed in their State of the Union addresses. Veto messages typically appear at mo- ments of historical and political import, moments that mark controver- sial policy making and reflect power struggles between the president 11nd Congress. Because the veto power is part of the legislative power of the presidency, this chapter is a companion to our preceding analy- sis of State of the Union addresses. Here veto messages are analyzed as ii means to understand more fully the president's rhetorical role in the I ·gislative process and the ways in which presidential use of the veto hos enlarged the power of the executive branch. 1 In one important respect, veto messages are unique: they are the sin- 1 ~ l c genre of presidential rhetoric whose central characteristics follow directly from constitutional provisions. Like the State of the Union ad- dress, the veto message is a product of the Constitution. Article 1, sec- 1 ion 7 says that if the president approves a bill, "he shall sign it, but if not h ·shall return it , with his Objections to that House in which it shall have miginated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their journal, and woceed to reconsider it." The constitutional provisions define t his fo rm of' presidential discourse, determining its purposes, major lines of argu- 111 •nt, predominant strategy, and structure as well as t he persona and 11) 11 ' usually adopted by the president.

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