Presidents Day

Today is the holiday celebrating Washington’s Birthday, also known as “Presidents Day.”

This provides an opportunity to briefly examine some commentary from communication scholars regarding George Washington’s founding of the American system.

In their landmark book Political Keywords, communication scholars Hart, Jarvis, Jennings and Smith-Howell (2005) write that George Washington anchored society by giving vision (p. 178).   They quote a textbook that teaches students: “Even though George Washington was born more than two and a half centuries ago, he remains one of the foremost architects of the American dream” (p. 138).

In their book about presidential imagery, Constructing Clinton, political communication scholars Shawn and Trevor Parry-Giles (2002), wrote that the architect of the stone statue of Washington envisioned America’s first president “sitting on an Olympian throne” (p. 188).

In George Washington: The Making of an American Symbol, Schwartz (1987)  says that the “commemoration of Washington … provides a continuous American interpretation of American life”  (p. 205).

Perhaps one contribution to Washington’s immortal image is that “in 1789 and again in 1792 George Washington had no opposition,” according to Trent, Friedenberg and Denton, in Political Campaign Communication (2011, p. 75). Yet, just as it was in Washington’s days, as Brown (2011) wrote in Communication Monographs, “effective presidential leadership is shaped by the public perception of governance” (p. 552).

 

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