All in all, it's just another brick in the wall. Did rhetoric trump the importance of a national address?

All in all, it's just another brick in the wall. Did rhetoric trump the importance of a national address? All in all, it's just another brick in the wall. Did rhetoric trump the importance of a national address?

January 10, 20192 min read
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It seemed all of America tuned in Tuesday evening at 9 PM Eastern to hear just what President Donald Trump had to say as he spoke to a nation caught in the middle of a government shutdown.


With federal services all but stagnant across the country, and those employees considered essential forced to work without pay, most expected a pitch to a nation that included a solution and ideally a moderated and mature speech. After all, there is a lot at stake for every American who is either employed by, engaged with or in need of the federal government.


However, that was not the case.  What did come was a short speech that was long on rhetoric, blame and ultimatums instead of resolution.  


In the past, when addressing the nation, a President would do so to share information of national importance, like Obama’s speech about the killing of Osama Bin Laden or Ronald Reagan speaking to America about the Iran-Contra Hearings.


These were big deals with a significant message.


Speaking with Canada’s national broadcaster, University of Mary Washington’s Stephen Farnsworth had this observation to share.


“By taking such partisan swipes from the grandeur of the Oval Office during a prime-time address, Trump runs the risk of "overexposure," or of being accused of cheapening a time-honoured tradition, said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor with the University of Mary Washington who specializes in presidential communications.


It's not clear whether the president's speech will have any impact on the border security stalemate. But Trump's speech may even have implications for future Oval Office broadcasts, Farnsworth said.”


So, what was gained by the address?


  • Did President Trump essentially ‘cry-wolf’ and cheapen the significance of a national address?
  • Or did it serve his purpose and support his base?
  • And, did the Democrats blow an opportunity to effectively respond?
  • There will be a lot of analysis of Tuesday’s TV-time and that’s where the experts from the University of Mary Washington can help.

Dr. Stephen Farnsworth is professor of political science and international affairs at the University of Mary Washington. A published author and a media ‘go-to’ on U.S. politics, he is available to speak with media regarding this issue. Simply click on his icon to arrange an interview.





Connect with:
  • Stephen Farnsworth
    Stephen Farnsworth Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

    Dr. Farnsworth has spent decades researching how media and politics intersect. Check out his website at stephenfarnsworth.net.

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