Crafting the Kennedy Legacy

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This essay explores the rhetorical dynamics of the debate between Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy over the Kennedy legacy in Vietnam. It situates President Kennedy's rhetoric as a linguistic context that ultimately framed the dispute between President Johnson and Senator Robert Kennedy over the escalation of the war in Vietnam. Each sought to provide the American people with the most authoritative reading of the past; the winner of that contest won the right to speak with authority on Vietnam. This critique, then, highlights the significance of the Kennedy legacy as a rhetorical resource during this time and, in a broader sense, points to the ways in which rhetors look to the past as a potent source of rhetorical invention and political authority.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)577-601
JournalRhetoric and Public Affairs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


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