Ph.D. student Michael Steudeman is the author of an essay appearing in the newest issue of Rhetoric & Public Affairs. Entitled "Entelechy and Irony in Political Time: The Preemptive Rhetoric of Nixon and Obama," Steudeman's essay advances two arguments.
The fırst argument is that preemptive politics often rely on strategies of rhetorical irony to cultivate perceptions of reasonableness, humility, and dialectical transcendence. As such, Steudeman expands the rhetorical conception of Stephen Skowronek’s “political time” thesis to reveal its dimensions as a Burkean “ironic development.” The second argument is that Barack Obama’s rhetorical strategy more directly fıts the typology of preemptive presidents than that of reconstructive presidents, making him far more comparable in “political time” with Richard Nixon than with Ronald Reagan. Steudeman analyzes the two presidential candidates’ rhetoric in their fırst winning campaigns for the presidency to discern the extent of these parallels and reveal the applicability of an ironist political style in preemptive electoral situations. The essay concludes by examining the trajectory of liberalism in political time and the implications of this analysis for preemptive “wild cards” in presidential rhetoric.
Citation: Michael Steudeman, "Entelechy and Irony in Political Times: The Preemptive Rhetoric of Nixon and Obama," Rhetoric & Public Affairs 16 (2013): 59-96.