The Discourse of President George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden: A Rhetorical Analysis and Hermeneutic Interpretation

Karen Cronick


In the past 50 years rhetorical analysis has seen a sort of revival, after a long period of disuse. It has become a tool for studies in philosophy, law, linguistics, literature, and in relation to mass communication and political practices. In this paper I describe a stance I have used in qualitative text analysis that makes use of rhetoric and interpretation from a hermeneutic point of view. The texts I analyze are transcripts of speeches by Mr. George Bush, President of the United States, and Mr. Osama bin Laden, the Saudi Arabian Taliban accused by the United States of backing recent terrorist attacks on that country. I employ the following analytic categories: 1) the creation of a dichotomy between "us" and "them," 2) the negation of aggressor, 3) the description of the conflict between the two sides, 4) the creation of a homeland and 5) attempts on the part of the speaker to gain the approval or collaboration of the audience. I conclude with some remarks about the use of rhetoric and the need to foment an interpretative stance when listening to political discourse.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs020333


rhetoric; hermeneutics; interpretation

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Copyright (c) 2002 Karen Cronick

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