Inflating the Terror Threat Since 2001
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Presidential rhetoric serves a critical interpretive role in defining events, particularly the threat of terrorism. As Richard Neustadt argues, the power of the presidency lies in the leader’s power to persuade. Presidents frame the terror threat by setting the country’s policy agenda. They then try to sell policies to Congress and the public through the pressure they can employ using their rhetoric and their office. This study, based on content analysis speech data ranging from September 2001 to February 2019, delves into why presidents speak the way they do about terrorism looking both at the content and frequency of their speeches. This chapter lays out the main contours and theory of the book, while subsequent chapters present empirical findings.