University of Pittsburgh
January 24, 2011

Pitt Rhetoric and Communications Expert Says President Obama’s State of the Union Address Is His Opportunity to Overcome November’s Stinging Political and Personal Defeat

“He has to be dynamic, specific, and credible in all phases and areas, or he’s on his way to ensuring a one-term presidency”
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—Gerald R. Shuster, an expert in presidential rhetoric and political communications in the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Communication, said that if President Obama is to begin the process of overcoming the stinging political and personal defeat of this past November, it must start with this year’s State of the Union address. 

Available to provide commentary on the address, Shuster noted that the president has got to instill confidence in the electorate that he has the ability to be the leader his campaign promised he would be and, at the same time, demonstrate that he is willing to compromise on issues to achieve objectives critical to the nation’s welfare. 

“Accomplishing either or both is no small task, but proving he’s up to both challenges must be incorporated in the speech,” said Shuster. “In short, he has to be dynamic, specific, and credible in all phases and areas, or he’s on his way to ensuring a one-term presidency.”  

Shuster’s primary interest in the political arena is from a communications perspective, evaluating communications theories and concepts in campaigns by the strategies candidates and political parties use. Shuster’s expertise includes the modern presidency, from John F. Kennedy to the current president, in terms of the presidents’ rhetorical styles and strategies: He analyzes their public comments and speeches and the impact of both on Congress and other audiences. Shuster frequently provides the national and international media with commentary on political issues, campaigns, and events. 

Shuster’s detailed analysis of a 2008 Obama campaign speech was published in the Washington Post and his commentary on various topics appeared in such places as CBS News, MSNBC, NewsTALK93 in Jamaica, AFP-AP France, Arizona Republic, Los Angeles Times, and US News and World Report