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

  • Karen Cronick Universidad Central de Venezuela
Keywords: rhetoric, hermeneutics, interpretation


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


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Author Biography

Karen Cronick, Universidad Central de Venezuela
Karen CRONICK graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio in the United States in 1963. She obtained her master degree from the Simón Bolívar University in 1980, and her doctorate from the Central University of Venezuela in 2001 in Caracas. She has been teaching at the Central University of Venezuela since 1985. Her research interests include community psychology, environmental psychology and rhetorical discourse analysis.