This chapter examines the implications of the power of presidential speech for national security and for democratic government more generally. The president has a right to communicate his views on both domestic and foreign policy issues, but the modern presidency does not simply make its views known; he dominates the discussion. Presidential speech is a part of the larger issue of government propaganda that has been problematic for democracy since the beginning of the twentieth century. This chapter first traces the history of how presidential speech became a problem for national security before discussing various responses to the danger it presents. In particular, it considers the power of presidential rhetoric and how presidential speech has been used to sell national security policies to the public, including the invasion of Iraq. It then explores how presidential speech can undermine democratic deliberation on national security issues, whether the use of presidential speech is constitutional, and how it can be exploited to spread disinformation.
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