'Presidential Rhetoric and the Constitution' Focus of Constitution Day Panel Presentation

Sept. 14, 2007

by Paige Patton, communication specialist, (254) 710-3321

Baylor University will recognize Constitution Day with a panel discussion dealing with Presidential Rhetoric and the Constitution. The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, in room 116 of the Draper Academic Building on campus.

The presenters will be Dr. Martin Medhurst, Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric and Communication at Baylor, and Dr. James R. Stoner Jr., professor of political science at Louisiana State University.

Medhurst has authored several books, including Dwight D. Eisenhower: Strategic Communicator, Communication and the Culture of Technology, Beyond the Rhetorical Presidency, and Cold War Rhetoric: Strategy, Metaphor, and Ideology. He is also the founding editor of the quarterly Rhetoric and Public Affairs which won the Best New Journal Award in 1998 as selected by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.

Stoner has teaching and research interests in political theory, English common law, and American constitutionalism. He is the author of Common-Law Liberty: Rethinking American Constitutionalism, Common Law and Liberal Theory: Coke, Hobbes, and the Origins of American Constitutionalism, and a number of articles and essays. In 2002 he was a visiting fellow in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He served from 2002 to 2006 on the National Council on the Humanities, to which he was appointed by President Bush.

"I will be speaking on the topic of the rhetorical presidency," Medhurst said. "It is a theory promulgated in the 1980s that says that 20th- and 21st-century presidents have transformed the Office of the President from a Constitutional office to a popular office by making rhetorical appeals over the heads of Congress to the people. I will examine how this theory applies to presidents before the 19th century and bring the supposition that 18th- and 19th-century presidents didn't do what our presidents in the 20th and 21st centuries are doing."

A federal mandate requires institutions of higher learning that receive federal funding to host an educational program related to the document on Sept. 17, the day the U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1787.

For more information about the Constitution Day event, call (254) 710-6500.

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