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A Critical Search for Values in George W. Bush’s State of the Union Addresses


Agnieszka Sowińska

This book focuses on values and valuation in the State of the Union addresses delivered by the former U.S. President George W. Bush. What values are invoked in the speeches? How are these values constructed? How can they be classified? How are particular construals of values conducive to the actions the speaker wants to legitimize? Drawing on Critical Discourse Studies, the book examines pragmalinguistic tools applied in political legitimization, such as proximization, metaphor or assertion. The analysis reveals three ideological values used in the context of foreign policy making: security, terrorism and freedom.
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Chapter Four: The corpus of political texts and its context


In this chapter, we present the presidential genre of State of the Union. We begin by discussing the constitutional powers and responsibilities of the US presidency, one of which is delivering an annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Having introduced the State of the Union address, we proceed to describe the corpus of the speeches used in our study in terms of their source, dates of delivery and length. We finish with a brief assessment of the Bush presidency.

1. State of the Union address as one of the cornerstones of the American rhetorical presidency

1.1 The US rhetorical presidency

The idea of rhetorical presidency, coined by James Ceasar, Glen Thurow, Jeffrey Tulis and Joseph Bessett in 1981 (Ceasar et al. 1981), and subsequently elaborated by Tulis (1987), assumes the existence of significant differences between the constitutional presidency of the 18th and 19th centuries and the modern presidency originating with Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson in the interaction of the president with the general public (cf. Tulis 1987; Campbell and Jamieson 2008 [1990]). In order to assert their presidential leadership, the modern presidents make the most of rhetoric and new media, communicating their priorities not only with Congress, but also making direct appeals to the American public via television, radio or the Internet (cf. Ceasar et al. 1981; Tulis 1987; Campbell and Jamieson 2008). As a result, the modern US presidency generates a vast quantity of...

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