The Oratory of George H.W. Bush

  • Matthew Lakin
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


This chapter argues that the oratory of George Herbert Walker Bush mirrors the political context of American politics, situated between the confident and certain Conservatisms of Reagan Republicanism, and the self-proclaimed ‘Republican Revolutionaries’ of 1994 under Newt Gingrich. Accepting his party’s nomination for president in 1988, President Bush promised a ‘kinder, gentler nation’, employing ethos so as to temper the hubristic pathos of the Reagan years. Indeed, he utilised pathos when invoking the spirit of pre-New Deal voluntarism with his ‘thousand points of light’, but this was an ostensibly inclusive Republican language, quite distinct too from the moralising of the Reagan years.

However, as the Republican Party was dragged to the Right during the Bush years by the Reaganite Praetorian Guard, his language and oratory became less deliberative and judicial and more emotional and performative. Indeed, the oratorical changes of the Bush Sr. years marks the decisive Rightward shift from Reagan Republicanism to post-Reagan Republicanism, laying the oratorical and political foundations for Bush 43.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Lakin
    • 1
  1. 1.Whitgift Boarding SchoolLondonUK

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