Time Essay: The Decline and Fall of Oratory

Tennessee's Governor Frank Clement, the most distinguished graduate of Mrs. Dockie Shipp Weems' School of Expression in Nashville, rose up before the 1956 Democratic Convention and demonstrated a dying art. His keynote address that night beside the Chicago stock yards was a symphony of rhetorical excess, a masterpiece of alliteration and allusion, an epic of the smite-'em style of oratorical Americana.

"How long, O how long, America!" cried Clement, in a grandiloquent filch from Cicero's First Catiline Oration. "How long, O America, shall these things endure?" In Dwight Eisenhower's foreign policy, Clement declaimed,...

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