chapter  11
11 Pages

The Puzzle of The Rhetorical Presidency

WithThomas L. Pangle

Jeffrey Tulis’s classic study traces the central dilemmas of today’s presidency to Woodrow Wilson’s invention of the full-blown “rhetorical presidency”: a radicalized version of Theodore Roosevelt’s essential rhetorical supplement to the Founders’ inadequate conception of the office. But what is Tulis’s teaching as to how we ought to evaluate this transformation? Tulis shows that our system suffers from a profound constitutional contradiction, with attendant deleterious consequences for our civic life; and he spotlights major virtues of TR’s “middle way.” What, then, holds Tulis back from endorsing that “moderate” way as superior, even in principle, to the Wilsonian system under which we now live?