The American president is widely viewed by the public and media as the nation's single most influential political and ecomic figure. But social scientists have often concluded that presidential words fall on deaf ears or have little lasting impact on policy or public opinion. Then why did Bill Clinton make 12,798 public references to the ecomy during his eight years in office compared with Harry Truman's mere 2,124 during his own two terms? Why George W. Bush's 3,351 remarks during his first term? Did all these words matter? The Politics of Ecomic Leadership is the first comprehensive effort to examine when, why, and how presidents talk about the ecomy, as well as whether the president's ecomic rhetoric matters. It demonstrates conclusively that such presidential words do matter. Using an unprecedented compendium of every kwn unique statement by U.S. presidents about the ecomy from World War II through the first George W. Bush administration, Dan Wood measures the relative intensity and optimism of presidents' ecomic rhetoric.His pathbreaking statistical analysis shows that presidential words can affect everything from approval of the president's job performance to perceptions of ecomic news, consumer confidence, consumer behavior, business investment, and interest rates. The impacts are both immediate and gradual. Ultimately, Wood concludes, rhetoric is indeed a tool of presidential leadership that can be used unilaterally to affect a range of political and ecomic outcomes.
B. Dan Wood is professor of political science at Texas A&M University and the coauthor of Bureaucratic Dynamics: The Role of Bureaucracy in a Democracy .