Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Christina Foust, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Linda Bensel-Meyers

Third Advisor

Darrin Hicks

Fourth Advisor

Dan Lair

Fifth Advisor

Roy V. Wood


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.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Veronica Lynn Koehn


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

178 p.



Included in

Communication Commons