Date of Award
Christina Foust, Ph.D.
Cluster analysis, Elitist ethics, George W. Bush, Kenneth Burke, Morality, Pentad analysis
On November 4, 2004, President George W. Bush won re-election. According to exit polls, a majority of people who voted for Bush over his opponent, Senator John Kerry, did so because they believed that Bush was the “moral values” candidate. In this dissertation, I assess the moral persona that the President rhetorically constructed during his first term in office. To do so, I utilize Kenneth Burke‟s cluster and pentad tools to analyze Bush‟s statements on embryonic stem cell research, 9/11 and the ensuing War on Terror, and same-sex marriage, three issues that the elite press explicitly identified as being “moral values” during Bush‟s first term.
The analyses reveal that Bush‟s rhetoric frames the ethical struggle as being between himself and an elite/powerful few others. The majority of Americans are thus stripped of their agent status and the corresponding ability to act and left to feel the effects of a “moral” decision that is made in their absence yet affects their very being. I term this sort of ethics “elitist ethics” as ethics and morality are made to seem like a power struggle between an elite few. In the conclusion I assess the effects of elitist ethics in the public sphere.
Koehn, Veronica Lynn, "Ethical Elitism: A Burkean Analysis of the Rhetorical Construction of a Moral Persona in the First Term of President George W. Bush" (2010). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 343.
Received from ProQuest
Veronica Lynn Koehn