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The term bully pulpit refers to the platform enjoyed by an elected official, especially the president of the United States, to communicate his or her views. This entry discusses the history of the term, the perceived power of the platform, its modern use by U.S. presidents, and the limitations of the bully pulpit.

History of the Term

Former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt famously declared the platform that the president of the United States commands to be a “bully pulpit.” Roosevelt did not intend for the phrase to contain diabolical implications; in the vernacular of his day, bully meant excellent, reflecting Roosevelt’s estimation that with the office came an opportunity to reach a wide audience, which was advantageous.

Power of the Bully Pulpit

Perhaps no one on Earth occupies a ...

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