Hillary Clinton's Career in Speeches
The Promises and Perils of Women's Rhetorical Adaptivity
Published by: Michigan State University Press
Imprint: Michigan State University Press
Sales Date: 2023-09-01
Women candidates are under more pressure to communicate competence and likability than men. And when women balance these rhetorical pressures, charges of inauthenticity creep in, suggesting the structural and strategic anti-woman backlash at play in presidential politics. Hillary Clinton demonstrated considerable ability to adapt her rhetoric across roles, contexts, genres, and audiences. Comparisons between Clinton’s campaign speeches and those of her presidential opponents (Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump) show that her rhetorical range exceeded theirs. And comparisons with Democratic women candidates of 2020 suggest they too exhibited a rhetorical range and faced a backlash similar to Clinton. Hillary Clinton’s Career in Speeches combines statistical text-mining methods with close reading to analyze the rhetorical highs and lows of one of the most successful political women in U.S. history. Drawing on Clinton’s oratory across governing and campaigning, the authors debunk the stereotype that she was a wooden and insufferably wonkish speaker. They marshal evidence for the argument that the sexist tactics in American politics function to turn women’s rhetorical strengths into political liabilities.
In examining Hillary Clinton’s rhetoric, the authors find a full-bodied politician, not the caricature so often offered up by the media. Using highly novel analytical procedures, the authors point up Clinton’s complexity and dynamism, and juxtapose them with the very real prejudices women still face in U.S. politics. This book will rankle the reader. And it should.
—Roderick P. Hart, author of American Eloquence: Language and Leadership in the Twentieth Century