Above the Fray? The Use of Party System References in Presidential Rhetoric

John J. Coleman, Paul Manna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Examining communication items from four presidents, we find that presidents link themselves to the party system rhetorically. Employment of party references is tested against recurrent features of the office and shifts in the political environment, including presidential approval, partisan independence, presidential successes and defeats in Congress, and the presence of divided government. Presidents strategically employ party system references with regard to audience and calendar. We find greater support for the rhetorical president as politician rather than as statesman above the fray, and we consider our findings in relation to the concept of political time. These findings suggest rethinking accounts of the contemporary presidency that presume that presidents determinedly place themselves “above politics” and “beyond party” when crafting their communications imagery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-426
Number of pages28
JournalPresidential Studies Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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