The Formative Power of Wartime Rhetoric: A Critical Discursive Analysis of Presidential Speeches

Posted in 2007 Journal


Language plays a vital role in a politician’s ability to garner public support for forthcoming military engagements. This paper explores the rhetorical tactics used in national addresses by President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis and President George W. Bush following the attacks of 9/11 as they attempted to establish a polemic relationship between the United States and the ideological enemies of Communism and terrorism. A critical discourse analysis of these two texts using Lakoff and Johnson’s container schema and Graham, Keenan and Dowd’s “call to arms” framework elucidates how the presidents used metaphor and appeals to external sources of legitimization to frame the enemy and justify retaliatory action.
Full Article (PDF):application/pdf iconWeintraub-Presidential-Speech.pdf