tv Lectures in History Presidential Speeches CSPAN November 11, 2021 9:43am-10:53am EST
weekend on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. america's story. on sunday, book tv, the latest in non-fiction books and authors. funding comes from these television companies and more. incluing comcast. >> students from low income families can get the tools they need to be ready for anything. >> comcast supports c-span2 as a public service. up next, professor john pitney teaches a class on public opinions from the 1970s through the 1990s and how presidential
1920s. calvin coolidge had a good voice for radio. herbert hoover did some speaking on the radio. when we think about presidents and the electronic media, we're thinking about franklin d. roosevelt. roosevelt is famous for the so-called fireside chats. important thing to know, a lot of people think he gave them every week. no. no, no, no. he gave them on special occasions. there weren't as many fireside chats as people think there were. roosevelt had a very good voice for radio. he understood that you didn't talk the same way as you did when you were talking to a large crowd. politicians of the area, an
amazing speech, talking into the radio microphone. people would get turned off by that. fdr understood that's not the way you talk on the radio. he also used radio effectively on certain special occasions. and some of his major speeches were broadcast. roosevelt gave acceptance speeches. you may say, yes, so? this was an innovation. roosevelt accepted the nomination in person, which was something people didn't do in those days. wow. something special. in 1936, he gave an acceptance speech again. really, acceptance speeches as we know them would not become regular into well into the 20th
>> senators and representatives, i have the distinguished honor of p senators and representatives, i have the distinguished honor of presenting the president of the united states. [ applause ] >> vice president, mr. speaker, members of the senate and the house of representatives, yesterday, december 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. united states of america was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of japan. the united states was at peace
with that nation and at solicitation of japan still in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the pacific. indeed -- >> went like that for a while. but one thing you will notice when franklin roosevelt was given his speech, he gestured with his head. he would go --. there was a very simple reason for that. franklin roosevelt needed leg races to stand. he had contracted polio and could not walk. he needed to hold onto the podium just to maintain his position. if he load go he could fall.
i mention the 1936 democratic convention. he actually fell and the paging fell out of order which creates a difficult situation for him that he was able to improvise. so that was a bit of a limitation on his ability to gesture to an audience. but he has details that americans are just recently learning on the attack on pearl harbor. so we go ahead here in the speech. >> -- yesterday the government also launched an attack against ma layia, last night japanese forces attacked hong kong. last night japanese forces attacked guam. last night japanese forces
attacked the philippine islands. last night the japanese attacked wake island. and this morning the japanese attacked midway island. japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the pacific area. >> okay. so what we see here is that roosevelt was trying to convey the enormity of what had just happened. it was not simply an attack on one military base in pearl harbor, but was part of a massive offensive in the pacific. he wanted to rally public sport for declaration of war. and he got it. he got almost unanimous support
of congress with one exception. janet rankine who by pure coincide had also voted against the declaration of war in the first world war. served two non consecutive terms in congress and both times her claim to fame was she had voted against the declaration of war. the presidential speech writing function gradually increases, in part because presidents become more mobile. during the 1950s president eisenhower begins greater use of what we would today call air force one. he originally called it the columbine. and at times eisenhower who had
gotten a pilots license would actually take the controls. at times he actually flew the plane. he was an extremely competent guy. eisenhower did do some traveling. made some speeches around the country. even did some television. one thing he didn't do though, in the 1950s was live press conferences. there was pressure from the press for him to do live press conferences. and he was resistant to that. because he thought that he might inadvertently reveal national security information. now you may wonder why was he so paranoid and sensitive about national security information? well he's been the commander of american forces in world war ii. when you have gone toe to toe with hitler you kind of get sensitive about those things. but he did end up having recorded press conferences. and they worked pretty well. and he was good at'em. we don't think of eisenhower as
a great orator or somebody particularly expert in domestic policy but the guy read his briefing book. he knew his stuff and he did pretty well in the press conferences. big innovation in television came with jfk. jfk did have live press conferences. this was a format that was particularly good for jfk. number one, he got the reporters. he understood them culturally. he had briefly in fact been a reporter himself. after he got out in the second world war. he didn't need the money, obviously. but he wanted to be able to say that he had a civilian job. so his father arranged him a reporting gig. and he understood the press, he understood how to handle himself at a press conference. he was very good at it. and in -- he came across well on
tv in part as we'll talk more about this as we get into the debates. ironically because of medication he was taking. if you look at pictures of jfk in the early 1950s he looks kind of sickly. by 1960s, he looks much better. because he was taken cortisone, which sometimes has the unfortunate effect of distorting people's features but jfk was so thin, it actually filled him out and made him look good. and his health was not in the best of shape. during his presidency his problems were much worse than the general public knew at the time but he came across extremely well on television. gave important speeches, 1962 revealing the presence of soviet missiles in cuba. and during the 1960s and a topic we're going to come back to, is
the state of the of union. during the 1960 it is president started giving the state of the union address at night. previously they gave it during the day. in the 19th century in fact they didn't give a speech at all. they sent a message to congress. this was part of the norm that i had mentioned earlier that presidents should communicate in writing and that they should be careful about dem gojic appeals to public opinion.agoguic appeas to public opinion. so they were written, not oral presentation. woodrow wilson renewed the idea of giving a state of the union speech in person. and other presidents took the mantle. but still, for the 1930s, 40s, 50s, the state of the union was
a speech. it really was a speech to congress. starting with lbj it became a television extravaganza with congress as the studio audience. which is really what congress does now. in the state of the union. it is an address to the people, and congress just happens to be there to applaud. and we'll see a state of the union in just a few minutes. while television advanced throughout the '60s and '70s. richard nixon, not generally known as a master of television, put a lot of emphasis on his public communications. and his speeches actually if you read them were pretty good. except during watergate, during his other public appearances, he was not in the best of form. "i am not a crook." that just didn't go over very well.
but one for president i want to dwell on for a bit because we tend to associate him with the public presidency use of rhetoric, of course, is ronald reagan. reagan, as everybody knows, spent most of his career as an actor. he knew a lot about lighting, about sound, about how to carry himself. you know, he used to say well, it is different when you know how you look from behind. and he did. he had a acute awareness of how he was coming across on the screen. and his critics accused him of being superficial. now when you read the speech, you can decide that for yourself. but, reagan, to an extent that
people at the time didn't realize actually did a fair amount of his own writing. during the 1970s, between his governorship of his presidency, he gave radio addresses, that for the most part he wrote himself. and we know this for sure because we have the manuscripts in his rather legible handwriting. so the guy knew how to put together a sentence. he wasn't a great literary figure, but he could write sentences and paragraphs. which is not necessarily true of all. and the speech i'd ask you to look at was his 1983 speech to the national association of evangelicals. and he did express his views on the soviet union, which we will talk about in a minute. you have had a chance to look at the typed script of the speech. but the thing that i gather kind
of surprised you was that it was not about the soviet union exclusively. in fact the soviet union came as sort of the last item of the things that he was talking about. this illustrates a point that we're discussing in the course and that is the role of religion in american politics. he was talking to the national association of evangelicals, and his agenda item was to get them involved in politics. and specifically get them involved in politics on the side of the causes that he preferred. now, you may wonder, huh? why does anybody have to convince evangelicals that they should be involved in politics? i mean, what? the answer is, remember, this is 1983. for a long time american
evangelicals had been hesitant to get involved in politics. reagan was trying to engage them. he was trying to engage them by talking very directly about religion. and an issue that he emphasized throughout the first part of the speech of course was abortion. we tend to think it is very contentious issue today but its been a contentious issue for decades. and here, it is also important to remember that evangelicals were not in the forefront of opposition to abortion in the 1970s. the catholic church was. the evangelicals were slower to get involved to the movement and reagan was trying to mobilize them in that direction. he was talking more broadly about the role of religion in
politics. and he even used the fake -- quotation. as you know from this class -- never wrote that america is great because america is good. but he wanted to do that and his speech writer, tony dolan, who by the way was catholic. but dolan wrote this speech pitched to evangelicals. and included this quotation. and one of the advantages of reading the type script is that you can see how reagan tweaks the fake quotation. he didn't like the exact wording. so he added the and hear her -- righteousness. so reagan heard about if fake quotation before and he just applied his own version to it. and if you want to see him using
that line. and also in the context of the speech, here is a clip. >> -- and -- the american experiment in democracy rests on this insight. its discovery was the great triumph of our founding fathers, voiced by william penn when he said "if we will not be governed by --. we must be governed by tyrants." explaining the inalienable right of men, jefferson said the god who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. and george washington who said of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political --
deeply engaged reagan was in the drafting of this speech. in fact there are whole sections here in his own handwriting, that he inserted. he's very actively engaged in speeches at the time. if you go and look at speeches in the second term, he's much less engaged. whether it was the early signs of alzheimer's or he was getting older and tired, nobody will ever know. in the first term, reagan was an active participant in the speech writing process and one of the great things about having access to these type scripts is that you can actually see it.
now, people on fire. let me set the scene for you. theres after proposal at the time for a nuclear freeze. to oversimplify the united states and soviet union was just freeze the number of nuclear weapons. just hold them in place. reagan was trying to stop that. he did not think this was a good idea because the soviets had nuclear superiority. as we know now the soviet union was a mess in just about everything else. the economy was in terrible shape. people had a horrible standard of living. but, they did have a pretty powerful nuclear force. that is one area where they had the advantage. and reagan didn't want them to have that advantage. so he was trying to stop the movement for a nuclear freeze. the reason i emphasize this. in the past when i had sent down
examines and i asked about this speech, sometimes he would answer oh this speech was designed to advance president reagan's proposal for a nuclear freeze. which indicates people weren't quite clear on the concept. so he was fighting the idea of a nuclear freeze. and remember, it is 1983. the cold war is still on. in his speech you will notice he refers today cold war in the past tense. sometimes that happened in the 1980s. we now think of the cold war as the entire period between the end of world war two and the closing of the soviet union on christmas day 1991. that explains the past tense. but, we didn't know in 1983 that the berlin wall was going fall in 1989. if you had gone in a time machine to 1983 and said, eight
years from now, the soviet union will close. soviet union will resolve. component parts of the soviet union will split off into independent countries and at least for a while there will be free elections in russia. of course things kind of change with vladimir putin a little later. but the old soviet union collapses. the people would have thought you were crazy if you would have said such a thing. 1983 it was still a going concern. people were very fearful of the soviet union and the soviet union were very fearful of the united states. there were times in the 1980s when the cold war might have gotten hot. and we avoided that. if we hadn't avoided that, we wouldn't be here today. and so reagan wanted to send a
very clear message. now, again, he thought he could mobilize the evangelicals because soviet union is officially -- was atheistic and wanted to drive that point home to them and engage them against the idea of moral equivalence. and we're going to see that in the clip that we're going to show right now. this is a talk about the speech. >> so here's the third and final clip. >> yes, let us pray for the salvation of all of those who live in that totallien darkness. play they will discover the joy of knowing god. but until they do, let us be
aware that while they preach the supremacy of the state, declare omnipotence of manta predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the earth, they are the focus of evil in the modern world. and for c.s. lewis who in his unforgettable letters wrote the greatest evil is not done now in those sordid dens of crime that dickens loved to paint. it is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. in those we see its final result. but it is conceived and ordered, moved, seconded, carried and minuted in clear carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice. but because these quiet men do not raise their voices, because
they sometimes speak in soothing tones of brotherhood and peace, because like other dictators before them, they were always making their final territorial demand, some would have us accept them at their word and accommodate ourselves to their aggressive impulses. but if history teaches anything, it teaches that simple minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. it means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom. so i urge you to speak out against those who would place the united states in a position of military and moral inferiority. i've always believed that screw it the reserved his best efforts for those of you in the church. i urge you beware the temptation of pride. the temptation of lively declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of
history and the aggressive impulsest of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil. >> yeah. there it was. evil empire. those words, evil empire. when the words -- okay. and professor talking more about about the evil empire. and this is very controversial at the time because many people wanted to have closer relations with the soviet union and the perception was that by using the term "evil" we would be provoking the soviet union. and some of you may have seen the clip i showed from the television series "the americans" are the two characters who are kgb spies are
shocked to see reagan talking this way. and yes, within the soviet ranks there was a great deal of shock about reagan. now, how much did reagan's policies have to do with the fall of the soviet union? well, that's quite a debate. some would argue that at most reagan's policies were peripheral. the soviet union collapsed because of internal reasons. others would say that the soviet union fell because reagan gave'em a push. you decide. you read the evidence. i'm sure this will come up in a lot of your courses in international relations. important thing again is what he was using the speech for. this is a case of a presidential speech having multiple audiences. obviously his immediate audience was the national association of evangelicals. more broadly, it was religious
people in the united states and evangelicals in general whom he wanted to mobilize on behalf of his causes. but when the president speaks, the world listens. people all over the world knew that he had referred to the soviet union as "an evil empire." this was of some concern in moscow to put it mildly. but word reached places like warsaw. and there were people who took inspiration from these words. so for some people it was inspirational. for other people it was confrontational and alarmist. the speech was a matter of delivering multiple messages to multiple audiences. and we see this a lot in presidential speeches. i want to talk about another
reagan speech. and this is something that i hope you had a chance to read about in peggy noonan's chapter. and that is the d-day speech. this is a speech he gave on the 6th of june, 1984, 40 years after the landings in normandy. why 40, not 50? as a practical matter, veterans of d-day were getting older. many of them were simply dying. and the white house figured this would be a last chance to get a substantial number of veterans at d-day in one place. so a lot of planning went into this. there was a famous speech we're going to see, which was a site on the normandy beach where american rangers scaled a cliff.
while germans were shooting at them. if you have ever been there, i mean you just look up and you think, wow. this is, you know -- this was an act of amazing bravery. for these guys to be able to do that. now militarily that was a different story. military historians say maybe this was totally unnecessary because the germans had moved the guns. well that is a different issue. there is no saying however the heroism of the rangers who scaled the cliffs and that is really what reagan wanted to celebrate. democratic writing. we talked about democratic writing in this course. bingo. a case of democratic writing right here. every speech in the white house goes through what some call the approval loop. back in the 1980s, it was a paper document. later on all of this would be done electronically.
but this shows who gets a copy of it, who gets to weigh in on the speech. and from the perspective of the speech writer, this is -- this can be somewhat annoying. you labor on five drafts of a speech and then everybody wants to have a say in it. if you recall from the chapter peg noonan says speech is a fondue pot. which is a figure of speech that danielle allen would probably approve of. everybody wants to have a say in the speech. and even though it is annoying for the speech writer, sometimes the approval loop can save you. in this case there was a factual error in the original version of the speech. let me enlarge this a little. ben elliott was the guy in charge of speech writing, see
page 2. double check facts of army as i recall. the big guns were not in place at the top of the cliffs. they had been moved. which is true. so they checked the facts. jim was right. and they changed the text of the speech to -- the factual error. which by the way didn't work with the fake -- comment but nobody's perfect. so the speech goes to the approval loop, in this case it had the intended effect. these are circled ideas. the enemy guns were quieted, etc. and so, reagan gave this famous speech. and again it is worth seeing some of the video.
>> ronald reagan passes away today. >> much of europe had been -- that day in history. -- armies joined in battle to rechamber this continent to liberty. for four long years much of europe had been under a terrible shadow. free nations had fallen. jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. europe was enslaved and the world prayed for its rescue. here in normandy the rescue began. here the allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history. we stand on a lonely wind swept point on the northern shore of france. the air was soft but 40 years
ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men. and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. at dawn on the morning of the 6th of june, 1944, 225 rangers jumped off the british landing craft at the bottom of these cliffs. their mission was one of the most difficult and daring of the invasion. to climb these sheer and december late cliffs and take out the enemy guns. the allies had been told that some of the mightiest of these guns were here. and they would be trained on the beaches to stop the allied advance. the rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliff shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades and the american rangers began to climb. they shot rope heards over the face of the cliffs and began to pull themselves up. when one fell another would take its place. when one rope was cut a ranger
would grab another and begin his climb again. they climbed, shot back and held their footing. soon one by one the rangers pulled themselves over the top and in seizing the firm land at the top of the cliffs, they began to seeds back the continent of europe. 225 came here. after two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms. behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. and before me are the men who put them there. these are the boys of that fight. these are the men who took the cliffs. these are the champions who helped free a continent. and these are the heroes who helped end a war. gentlemen, i look at you and i
think of the words of -- okay. these are the boys of pont dole. that is a line that is remembered, even to this day there. two years ago my family went to normandy and we stood in that very spot and our tour guide was there and he took out -- he read that speech. he read that speech. so it made a tremendous impression. now obviously, it is 1984. and do the arithmetic. reagan is running for reelection. obviously everything the president does during a reelection year has something to do with that skpch this associated reagan with heroism, with military strength, with american history. but that is one of the advantages you get when you are the incumbent president.
now, the other speech, the other speech writer memoir i asked you to look at is by ben waldman. as i mentioned before, the cmc parent. and -- waldman. ben is his son. freudian cmc slip there. michael waldman. and his focus is on clinton talking about social security. this is an issue that they were the democrats. every so often republicans would try to do something with social security. and it would always blow up in their faces. and so this was an opportunity for clinton to seize the public's attention and focus on this issue. so the line in the speech --
social security the first --. what could you do if you were a republican? could you withhold applause from that? with all your elderly constituents watches on television? i don't think so because the camera is going to pan the chamber and those of us who are old people we notice who is applauding for us and who isn't. okay. so this -- very end of the chaps, something really important happens to president clinton. the controversy that will eventually lead to his impeachment. so how does he address it in the speech? he doesn't. doesn't say a word about it. and people are saying well, what is clinton going to say about all this? is he going to resign?
no, he's just going to tough it out. i'm just gonna ignore all that and give the speech i want to give. and he did. >> -- more relevant than ever. >> so we'll advance to the part. >> now, if we balance the budget for next year, it is projected that we'll then have a sizable surplus in the years that immediately follow. what should we do with this projected surplus? i have a simple, four word answer.
save social security first. [ applause ] okay. "save social security first." because some republicans were talking about using the surplus for more tax cuts. and he -- them on that, to use a peculiar verb there. and this was all planned. and turns out the reaction to the speech was generally very positive. and from the standpoint of crisis communication, this is a terrific illustration of the line that i quoted before from madmen, if you don't like what's being said, change the
conversation. so he just changed the conversation. i'm going talk about social security. you can talk about all that, you know, very sordid stuff later. i'm going talk about what i'm doing. and it worked for him. public opinion stayed with bill clinton. 1998 elections, the republicans actually lost seats in the house when they expected to gain them. say what you want about bill clinton's policies. he was one of the most brilliant politicians we've ever had in the white house, i think this clip illustrates that point. last point that i want to make before we get into q&a. the role of religion. we saw reagan talking about religion and might be thinking to yourself, well that's just reagan. lots and lots of presidents have talked about religion. and it is curious that among the
presidents who talked about most is barack obama. curious because during the 2008 campaign there were people saying oh, we don't know what his religious believes are. they like barack obama? oh we don't know. well it -- that he is very religious and knows the bible better probably than a lot of the people who were criticizing him. and in this speech this is the white house easter prayer breakfast 2015. he talks in very, very, very direct terms, very specifically christian terms. about his beliefs. >> you know, that reflects. imam no preacher. i can't tell anything to this crowd about easter that you don't already know. i can offer just a couple of reflections very quickly before we begin the program.
for me the celebration of easter puts our earthly concerns into perspective. with humility and with all we give thanks to the extraordinary sacrifice of jesus christ our savior. reflect on the brutal pain that he suffered, the scorn that he absorbed, the things that he bore. this extraordinary gift of salvation that he gave to us. and we try as best we can to comprehend the darkness that he endured so we might receive god's light. and yet even as we grapple with the sheer enormity of jesus' sacrifice, on easter we can't lose sight of the fact that the story didn't end on friday. the story keeps on going.
on sunday comes the glorious resurrection of our savior. good friday may occupy the throne for a day, dr. king once preached. but ultimately it must give way to the triumphant beat of the drums of easter. the drums that beat the rhythm of renewal and redemption, goodness and grace, hope and love. easter is our affirmation that there are better days ahead. and also reminder that it is on us, the living, to make them so. through god's mercy, peter the apostle said we are given an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and on faith, kept in heaven for you. it is an inheritance that calls on us to be better, to love more deeply, to serve the least of these as an expression of
christ's love here on earth. the spirit we feel in the example of his holiness, pope francis, to seek peace, serve the marginalizes and be stewards of god's creation. like millions of americans, i'm honored that we will be welcoming him to our country later this year. i quote him. he says that we should strive to see the lord in every excluded person who is thirsty, hungry, naked. to see the lord present even in those who have lost their faith. in the imprisoned. sick, unemployed. persecuted. to see the lord in the leper. within body or soul who encounters discrimination. isn't that how jesus lived? okay. so with that let me focus on questions and comments. one question i would like to
pose. why did president obama use that particular reference? why did he quote pope france? again, a couple of things are going on here. why quote pope francis? >> and i think the reason obama specifically chose pope francis because he's so appealing to the particular religious crowd. better accept the pope's view if they are less conservative in their catholicism. >> that's right. pope francis -- emphasizing inclusion. he's from south america.
and. [indiscernible] scientific background --. but in this case he's talking about the marginalized, the leper. so in doing an entirely different take of the christian message that a lot of other politicians will make. the president here is talking about his personal believes. but he's casting them in ways that will be appealing to more progressive voters. so this draws a contrast between the way barack obama talks about religion and the way ronald reagan does. so point of contrast. i know from talking to you before class, some of you were a bit surprised by the evil empire speech. what reaction did you have when
you looked at that. >> i just really expected -- but then all of a sudden -- abortion and talking about abortion relationship to god. so i feel that that idea that -- because i think reagan had other intentions with that speech. >> yeah. that's right. other reasons and reaction? yeah. >> i actually thought -- that way. like he starts off by going off on abortion. i thought part of the reason could be because when he talked about the evil empire he is directly setting up a scenario which he's not saving lives. and so i feel like the way he put in the abortion into the conversation made it that he's appealing to this religious group by going oh yes, save the unborn child.
insert religion into politics and that is the only way to save the unborn child so he goes off on this rhetoric around abortion of saving lives and that was sort of how he set up his appeal to go --. >> also mentioned amendment they was trying to get passed, mandate parents role out of -- ended up -- >> yeah. and realistically, no one actually thought that this whole prayer amendment would become part of the constitution. i worked in washington starting shortly after that speech. a lot of politicians talked about it. and everybody knew it was not going happen. and it had substantial public support in large areas of the united states you still to this day are going to find lots of people who think that ought to be part of the constitution. and that is a constituency that he was talking about.
>> he also talked about the family unit in a way. kind of creates that distinction between the way america views the family and also aborings without the consent of parents being wrong in america ice eyes. blends social conservative ideals well with how america and soviet union being the antithesis of that. >> yeah and something we'll talk later about is at the time the conservative movement was a fusion on the one hand social conservatives who were very concerned about issues like family, abortion, etc. and national security conservatives who were very, very strongly anti-communist. and that brought a lot of those
people into the tent. remember the cold war was a personal issue for a lot of americans, because a large fraction of voters actually had roots in countries behind the iron curtain, particularly polish americans. who were very much aware that at the time, the pope was polish. and part of the message was directed at them, as well as to the evangelical. so you had social conservative, national security conservatives and other times reagan spoke to the economic conservatives. with mixed results. on the one hand he cut taxes, on the other hand, spending increased. so that is not a new story. in recent years we've had the similar pattern in fiscal politics. but we -- that's something we did see during the 1980s.
yeah. >> -- how in connecting or contrasting the family -- soviet union also he's incorporating those social values with economic values as well. it is not just, you know, it is like the state shouldn't -- or, you know, abortions that the state presence and economic life is anti-family and anti-religion and the soviet union provide this is like excellent foil for making that point. >> sure. and again, very much on people's minds during the 1980s. sure. >> we also in addition to creating this image of america the good as opposed to the soviet union as an evil empire, he also talks about how america is great and how america is good in relation to --. also emphasizes the original sin of america being minority marginalization and slavery.
i thought that was kind of interesting. appealing that that evangelical understanding of sin in the speech. >> yeah. we didn't have time for the entire speech. but professor in the talk which i drew these clips emphasized that. in fact that was the part of the speech that got the most applause from the immediate audience. when he was talking about transcending the history of slavery and about the necessity to stand firm against bigotry in all forms. and you know, he was talking about hate groups having risen in america. and he urges his audience to stand up against them. and they applaud it. now, reagan had lots of critics. if you read some of the critical accounts of the reagan administration, you will, you know, something said well reagan was actually using dog whistles to appeal to these groups.
that is one line of criticism that you will come across. >> noonan excerpts. the very last page -- -- illustrates the audience --. conceived in liberty -- which when we're reading it it doesn't seem like that, to that specific audience, the gettysburg address entirely different speech so i think it's you can really see how specifically focussed the whole entire speech was on the audience. just more conservative rather than only conservative evangelicals but incredibly like straightforward and very narrow. >> sure. what did you get from the speech writers? because this is something a lot of you guys are going to be
doing. maybe not for a president. but i guarantee you that some of you in the years ahead are going to be doing entrepreneurs, maybe for a politician. maybe for an ad advocacy group. and some of you are going to be writing speeches. so what did you get out o these two chapters? one by a republican, one by a democrat. >> i think in nose cases. -- and especially wants to have their own ideas emphasized in their speeches. it doesn't matter whether you are a democrat or republican. it feels like each politician has a different agenda. but also proof reading is extremely important. >> yes. yes. and again in the case of the -- quote there was a proof reading fail. >> -- colorful imagery into her
speeches, but the policy wonks as she calls them, kind of are preventing that and want to be very technical and all that in their speeches. >> yeah. and that is a thing in the speech writing process between the policy experts and the people who like to put together college football and memorable prose. and that is always going to be part of the speech writing process and part of what danielle allen again calls democratic writing. in my own experience, i remember one time i was writing something when i was in washington. and i quoted something to raise that doesn't have a wall. okay? where's that from? robert frost, yes. and my boss, the person who was immediately reviewing that was seemingly unfamiliar with robert
frost and she wrote does not sound right. i had to explain where it came from. it ended up on the discarded pile anyway. so i have lots of frustrating stories from my own time writing speeches and other materials in washington. what else? other major takeaways from this week's readings? yeah. >> -- over every single word. like i remember the china speech, for example, where one expert policy person was like taking issue with the history of the river analogy and somehow linked that marxism and communism. and the speech writer is like i'm just trying to use a nice metaphor. >> yeah. again, tremendously frustrating for speech writers. but speeches, when you are president of the united states,
every word weighs a ton. and if you use the wrong words there are going to be major consequences. for example, george w. bush gave a speech in which he talked about iraq's effort to seek yellow cake uranium. and he said it was confirmed -- he mentioned british intelligence, etc. you know just a short passage in one speech. but that one short passage led to enormous controversy for years. underlying intelligence was faulty to say the least. so that is why, you know, it is frustrating if you are a speech writer, but you can understand, particularly when it comes to foreign policy why the experts want to have a crack at it. >> -- ironic is that is a direct
biblical quotation --. like a river. righteousness like it never failing stream. and throughout the speech he attempted to associate government, freedom and liberty with religion. also in the speech he says when our founding fathers passed the first amendment they sought to protect churches from government interference. they -- construct a wall of --. and also different excerpt of speech he basically was making reference to all of the history that our government has made reference to like religious belief, when that is not necessarily at the core of our national institution, that separation exists for a reason. >> yeah and that is something we'll be talking about when we get to our discussion of civil liberties and the first
amendment. >> on that note, reagan certainly had to walk that line between arguing -- is evil in its form but also saying we must use the power of government to enforce some aspect of religion because the moral value -- and i think it was effective how he gave the speech that he really didn't have to go at that question. these are the issues, this is why it is important. we have government. and gave that argument. saying we can do it, and it is necessary. >> okay. and last two words. >> -- talked about the loss of -- literature. political consultants have --. and i wonder if you think that there is like an appetite in the modern political climate.
like if americans would be receptive to the more highfalutin rhetorical style that was, like, more common two decades ago? >> short answer is, some would and some wouldn't. you know, the previous president was not not known for high falutin' rhetoric but it was effective with the previous president's base. that's something politicians pay attention to. last word. >> when i hear about scrutinizing every word of this speech, when the monica lewinsky scandal drawn out, they looked for any interpretation of the speech that could be interpreted in the wrong way and they were removing every single instance of that. >> yeah, he was talking about paul begala as extremely familiar with opposition
research, kind of anticipating how republicans would be able to go after the speech. and that's, again, frustrating for the speechwriter. but you have to have a political person who knows how the other side is going to respond. and on that highly practical note, i will draw today's class to a close, and hope you've gotten a little bit of insight into presidential rhetoric. and we will continue our look at the presidency in a virtual class on wednesday. take care. >> thank you. weekends on c-span2 are an intellectual feast. every saturday, american history tv documents america's story. and on sundays, book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for c-span2 comes from these television companies and
more, including cox. >> cox is committed to providing eligible families access to the internet. bridging the digital divide, one connected and engaged student at a time. cox. bringing us closer. >> cox, along with these television companies, supports c-span2 as a public service. up next, another class from our series "lectures in history." >> so throughout the seminar you've been thinking about images during this 19th century period and specifically today, we're going to think about the way images really constructed gender roles, particularly in the 19th century, and the ways that activists used images to shape, alter, change gender roles during this time period too. so i would like actually to start off with, just to think about the ways these images are part of