Pick State of the Union, Inaugural Addresses or Election 2008 campaign speeches. Type in a word. Choose percentages or counts. Click go. All of a sudden, you can see exactly how many times presidents have used the word 'government' in their state of the union addresses since 1790. 7,036 times.
- The word 'government' was in much higher demand in the 1800s, peaked around 1945, and then again around 1985. Since then, although government is once again growing, presidents are much less likely to use the word.
- 'Freedom' is another fun case study. Since 1942, the numbers rose considerably, went through a low point in the 70s, then swooped in the 1980s and again in the 2000s. Total: 695 usages.
- 'Genocide' on the other hand, has been mentioned only three times: 1950, 2006, and 2008.
- 'Abortion'? Five times. Not one since 1988.
- 'Consumerism'? Zero.
- 'Mistake'? 32 times.
- Teddy Roosevelt used 'wrong,' 'moral,' and 'sin' more times than any other president. 'Sin' has not been mentioned since 1911.
I could go on all day. Needless to say, you should check out the site. Now I want to go back to political science class. This would have helped my course link paper on political rhetoric in state of the union addresses IMMENSELY. Hindsight. Good stuff. Check it out.
(Giving credit where it's due, I came across this site via Freakonomics).