Kevin Coe and Joshua M. Scacco

Feb 10, 2022

The Ubiquitous Presidency

Presidential Communication and Digital Democracy in Tumultuous Times

Oxford University Press 2021

The Ubiquitous Presidency: Presidential Communication and Digital Democracy in Tumultuous Times (Oxford UP, 2021) is part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics book series, and it makes an important contribution to the literature on the American presidency and the understanding of presidential rhetoric. There are decades of literature on the concept of the rhetorical presidency, dating back to the 1960s and 1970s. This area of study of executive politics focuses on public communication by the president, which is distinct from examining the powers and norms of the presidency itself. The media environment in which the president operates and in which the presidency exists has shifted and changed rather dramatically over the past century, moving the presidency to a position that is often or regularly the focus of news media, however consumed or delivered.

Josh Scacco and Kevin Coe’s new book examines this changed and continuing to change media landscape and to re-assess the capacity of presidential rhetoric, but they have also expanded and reconceptualized the idea of presidential communication, positioning it within important political contexts and goals that presidents often pursue. The Ubiquitous Presidency posits that accessibility, personalization, and pluralism (read as either exclusion or inclusion, depending on the president) are the dominant contexts in which to examine presidential communication. And that the goals that most presidents pursue within these contexts include visibility, adaptability, and control. Thus, Scacco and Coe have written about what has changed about the contemporary presidency, how it has adapted to changing circumstances, evolving digital spaces, and the need to seek audiences in these new spaces. They have also explained, within the research, how the president’s words may have more of an impact than is often considered to be the case. Given the changing environment in which presidential communication transpires, and the results that we have observed as individuals and group make choices and engage in activities based on communication from the president, there may, indeed, be significant effects connected to presidential rhetoric and communication.

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI. She is co-editor of the award winning book, Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012), as well as co-editor of Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). Email her comments at lgoren@carrollu.edu or tweet to @gorenlj.

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Lilly Goren

Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI.

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