Presidential Rhetoric is Swimming in Pathos

Just ahead of the State of the Union address, Chicago Reader cited the wisdom of Associate Professor of Government Elvin Lim on presidential speeches. Quoting Lim’s book, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency, the article notes that modern presidents tend to overemphasize emotional appeal, or pathos, in speeches. “Presidential rhetoric does have persuasive and nation-unifying functions, which pathos ideally facilitates, but these purposes should not be the be-all and end-all of presidential rhetoric… Article 2 mandates the president to ‘give the congress information of the state of the union,'” Lim writes.