Seeking Gravitas, Trump's Giving a Primetime Address Tonight. Here's the Historical Precedents He's Building Upon.Breaking News
tags: presidential history, Trump, presidential address
When President Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night he will be sharing the space with more than a teleprompter and an array of TV cameras.
The room with the legendary shape will also be filled with ghosts. The spirit of every president in the television age will be alive in the memories of millions watching at home.
To some degree, that is the idea. When you address the nation from the iconic broadcast space all presidents have inhabited since Harry Truman, you amplify the sense of history in the making. You take the mantle, as some might say, of momentous decision-making.
That impression has survived through seven decades of speeches that sometimes soared but just as often clanked. It has survived even though more recent presidents have dialed back on the use of the Oval for TV, preferring the East Room or the grand Cross Hall connecting the East and West Wings.
Former President George W. Bush used it for major international crises. Barack Obama spoke from the Oval only three times, the last time from a lectern that stood awkwardly in the middle of the room.
The gravitas of the Oval Office address has also endured the onslaught of successor media, especially the social media platforms that now absorb so much of our national attention.
It is rather surprising that a president so famously proud of his millions of Twitter followers would care about a 20th century tool such as this.
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