Venomous Speech

Problems with American Political Discourse on the Right and Left

by Clarke Rountree, Editor

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April 2013


Pages 459
Volumes 2
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/General
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    Hardcover: £85.00/92,00€/A$142.00

Is much of the current dysfunction in our political system attributable to the problematic discourse of politicians, pundits, and journalists? These authors on legal and political discourse say yes.

This book contains essays by some of the best scholars of political communication that examine modern-day American political discourse. The contributors address what is problematic in our political discourse and what has resulted in unprecedented levels of gridlock, discord, and hostility, covering everything from the incivility of Congress to the spectacle of celebrity politicians… the arrogance of Republican and Democratic presidents to the difficulties of grassroots groups hoping to change the status quo… and the partisan shaping of news coverage to the growing influence of political comedians.

This work provides a frank, hard-nosed look at what needs fixing, offers a critical lens from knowledgeable writers to help those frustrated with our political system to better understand why our discourse is so troubled, and lays out suggestions for reclaiming the commonwealth. Anyone interested in politics, government, or communication will benefit from learning how recent developments have created a "perfect storm" that is troubling the waters of our democracy.


  • Analyzes the discourse of conservatives and liberals, presidents, members of Congress, the news media, campaigns, and grassroots groups
  • Includes coverage of the 2012 Republican presidential primary
  • Identifies the most troublesome political statements in recent years
  • Examines campaign finance reform since Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
Author Info

Clarke Rountree, PhD, is chair and professor of communication arts at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He received his doctorate in rhetorical studies from the University of Iowa. He has published numerous books and articles on legal and political discourse, including Praeger's The Chameleon President: The Curious Case of George W. Bush and Judging the Supreme Court: Constructions of Motives in Bush v. Gore, winner of the 2009 Kohrs-Campbell Prize in Rhetorical Criticism.



"These two volumes are valuable in gauging the political climate of the last several years. Whether the current culture of negativity is more pronounced than at any other time in our nation's history is not a central issue, nor should it be. The various essays delineate a clear and compelling case that our current political climate is highly polarized and threatens to eliminate the possibility of bipartisanship for the foreseeable future. . . . Rountree's introductory essay provides a well-crafted sense of why the strains between and among politicians and citizens have emerged at the present time."
Quarterly Journal of Speech

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