Study: Presidential speeches getting longer, simpler since 1800
October 14, 2014
Reason they're getting simpler is, presidents have increasingly had to address remarks to common people.
The latest attempt to quantify what we already know about presidential speeches comes from the media firm Vocativ.
The essential findings: Speeches have grown steadily in length since 1800, and become simpler in style.
Former President Clinton scribe and historian Jeff Shesol is quoted in analysis: “It's tempting to read this as a dumbing down of the bully pulpit,” Shesol explains patiently. “But it’s actually a sign of democratization. In the early Republic, presidents could assume that they were speaking to audiences made up mostly of men like themselves: educated, civic-minded landowners. These, of course, were the only Americans with the right to vote. But over time, the franchise expanded and presidential appeals had to reach a broader audience.” —DM