ERIC Number: ED284248
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Aug
Reference Count: 0
The 1987 State of the Union Address: Riding into the Sunset.
The advent of electronic mass communications in the 1920s forever altered the rhetoric, the audience, and the echoes or responses of the State of the Union Address. Presidents thereafter would use the occasion to speak primarily to the public and secondarily to the Congress. The echoes of the speech that reverberate within the Congress, among the voters, and in the press set up a tension among the audiences that suggest that the meaning of the address is not so much contained in the words the president speaks as in those responses. For example, press commentaries precede and follow a speech for days. Ronald Reagan's 1987 State of the Union address was given poor marks by the press, in part because of his drastically altered persona. In 1980, he had arrived with a reputation as"The Great Communicator," and the metaphor of the lone gunslinger who rides into town, cleans it up, and rides on served him well. But his 1987 rhetorical shootout at the congressional podium did not touch on the details of the Iran controversy, offered no apologies, and presented nothing different from previous speeches. Members of congress paid more attention to each other than to the president, responding with partisan jeers and cheers. As for Reagan and his White House-in-turmoil, many observers saw him "riding into the sunset" and into history like the Western heroes of his movie generation. The president, in giving a disappointing, uninspiring speech that repeated old ideas and phrases, failed to salvage any remaining usefulness for his administration's final two years. (Thirty-nine footnotes are included.) (NKA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Audience Awareness; Audience Response; Presidents State of Union Message; Reagan (Ronald); Television Role
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (70th, San Antonio, TX, August 1-4, 1987).