Ritualized presidential rhetoric including inaugurals, state of the unions, and farewell addresses has received a wealth of research attention. While vital to the rhetorical presidency, more routine communications that convey the “tick tock” of everyday presidential actions have gone largely unnoticed in the scholarly literature. This article focuses on the central area of routine presidential communication: the weekly address. Thirty speeches from the first year of President Clinton, Bush, and Obama’s administrations are analyzed to understand the functions of the address’s routine use. The findings reveal that ideologically disparate presidents approach the weekly routine with a temporal focus that sermonizes to the nation, projects the power of the presidency, and insulates the institution from legislative inaction.
Joshua M. Scacco, email@example.com
Department of Communication Studies
The University of Texas at Austin
Sample Presidential Addresses:
President George W. Bush's final radio address, 1/17/09
-This was the last official weekly "radio" address before the transition in the Obama administration to a digital format on the White House website and YouTube.
President Barack Obama's weekly address, 10/3/09
-This is an example of the new visual style inaugurated with the digital format. Both presidential imagery and words help to sustain rhetorical power while simultaneously making Obama a transferable, ubiquitous leader to be shared, embedded, and viewed on countless social media platforms.
Scacco, Joshua M. 2011. “A Weekend Routine: The Functions of the Weekly Presidential Address from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama,” Electronic Media & Politics, 1 (4): 66-88.