chapter  9
12 Pages

The Rhetorical Presidency and the Partisan Echo Chamber

WithNicole Mellow

The rise of a partisan Congress can aggravate some of the pathologies of the rhetorical presidency identified by Jeffrey Tulis: reckless policy production, and the resulting public disillusionment with an overpromising government. In some cases, such as the debate over the invasion of Iraq, the unified ranks of the president’s party amplify the president’s simplistic rhetoric, reducing policy deliberation and aggravating public disappointment when reality turns out to be more complex. When combined with divided government, however, partisanship can work to produce deliberative compromises that mitigate these pathologies, as exemplified by the welfare-reform legislation enacted by a Republican Congress under a Democratic president in