What exactly is happening when politicians evoke a center space beyond partisan politics to advance what are unmistakably political arguments? Drawing from an analysis of pivotal speeches surrounding Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and first term in office, Centrist Rhetoric: The Production of Political Transcendence in the Clinton Presidency takes an extended look at this question by showing how the possibility of political transcendence takes form in the rhetoric of the political center. Faced with a divided and shrinking party, and later with a pitched battle against a resurgent conservative movement, Clinton used the image of a political center, a "third way" beyond liberal and conservative orthodoxies, to advance his strategic goals, define his adversaries, and overcome key political challenges. As appeals to the center helped Clinton to achieve these advantages in specific cases, however, they also served to define the means, ends, and very essence of democracy in ambiguous and contradictory ways. Touching on controversies from the early 1990s over the future of the Democratic Party, racial identity in American politics, the threat of rightwing extremism, and the role of government, Antonio de Velasco show how centrist rhetoric's call to transcendence weaved together forms of identification and division, insight and blindness, so as to defy the conventional assessments of both Clinton's supporters and his detractors. Centrist Rhetoric thus offers general insight into the workings of political rhetoric, and a specific appreciation of Clinton's attempts to define and adjust to the political exigencies of a critical period in history of the Democratic Party and politics in the United States.
|Series:||Lexington Studies in Political Communication Series|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Antonio de Velasco is associate professor of rhetoric in the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Chapter 1. New Democrat Strategy: Crafting a Vital Center for the 1992 Presidential Campaign Chapter 3 Chapter 2. Centrist Rhetoric, Whiteness, and the Ambiguities of the "Sister Souljah Moment" Chapter 4 Chapter 3. "The Audience for This Is Huge": Oklahoma City and the Wages of Transcendence Chapter 5 Chapter 4. The Pliability of Community: Rhetorical Idealism and Transcending the "era of big government" Chapter 6 Conclusion
What People are Saying About This
The meteoric and unlikely rise of William Jefferson Clinton is one of the great stories of American politics, and one with continuing resonance as the dominant political parties reshape themselves into the 21st century. Clinton's was a landmark rhetorical presidency, and Antonio de Velasco has identified its fundamental metaphor: the 'center.' This was the inventional resource upon which Clinton relied as he crafted the public address that propelled him into the presidency, that consolidated and defended his leadership, and that now sustains his legacy. The contours of this rhetorical topos is revealed through case studies and close analysis, building our understanding of its peculiar genealogy and perennial appeal. 'The center' emerges as a double-edged figure that cloaks political maneuver even as it extends the promise of democratic transcendence. Centrist Rhetoric is well-written, thoroughly researched, and forcefully argued. But more importantly, de Velasco's work provides an exemplar of the unique contribution that a thoroughly rhetorical perspective brings to the study of public culture.