chapter  14
14 Pages

Allegories of Reading Tulis

WithDiane Rubenstein

Tulis’s book was published at roughly the same time as several other key texts, such as Michael Rogin’s

Ronald Reagan, the Movie

(

), Roderick Hart’s

The Sound of Leadership

(

), and Murray Edelman’s

Constructing the Political Spectacle

(

). Anne Norton’s American Political Science Association paper, “The President as Sign” (reprinted in her

Republic of Signs

), was presented at the start of the second Reagan term. I am not making a causal argument about this rhetorical disciplinary turn in a subfield of American politics, nor postulating a semiotic hypothesis concerning Reaganism, which I do at great length elsewhere (Rubenstein

). What I am saying is that when read alongside these other works arguing for a reorientation of the presidency as a symbol, sign, rhetorical strategy, figure, or trope, it is Tulis’s book that is most thoroughly consonant with the project and ambition of deconstructive reading, whose promise continues to resonate in post-9/11 America (through Derrida’s notion of democracy’s constitutive auto-immunity).