Speaking Styles from George Washington to George W. Bush
by Allan Metcalf
FROM GEORGE WASHINGTON'S "ADMINISTRATION" TO GEORGE W. BUSH'S "EMBETTERMENT OF MANKIND"
Perhaps more than anyone else, politicians are what they say and how they say it. In Presidential Voices, language expert Allan Metcalf examines how our presidents have spoken to the American public and how the American public has wanted its presidents to speak.
Drawing from a rich number of sources, Metcalf examines the distinctive words that our presidents have favored (and in many cases invented), along with the regional accents that have livened the Oval Office and resounded from the rostrum. In addition, Metcalf uncovers the hidden influences of speechwriters and of changing public media on how the presidents present themselves to the voters. Metcalf concludes his survey of presidential speech with entertaining linguistic portraits of all 43 presidents.
From Silent Cal to the Great Communicator, Presidential Voices sheds a new and original light on the ways in which our commanders in chief have commanded the language.
George W. Bush
President 2001 -
Purely on merit, his manner of speaking has earned him eminence in this book. As a presidential blunderer, he's in a class of his own, as chapter 6 explains. And as a presidential neologist (chapter 7), he's in a class with Thomas Jefferson-Jefferson at the head of the class and Bush at the back, to be sure, but the same class nevertheless. What he shares with Jefferson is the unusual ability to be comfortable with new words, indeed to relish them. The difference is that Jefferson coined them consciously and conscientiously.