Movements and Meanings: Towards an Integrated Approach to Political Discourse Analysis

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This chapter has two principal focuses; firstly backwards in time, across some of the high points in the development of political discourse analysis, in order to assess the current state of the field. It also has a future focus, as it attempts to integrate insights from some emerging fields, such as Multimodality, with more consolidated approaches. It has been argued, in many accounts (e.g. Fairclough and Fairclough 2012), that persuasion is the most pervasive function of all political discourse, and most authors agree that the processes involved encompass both textual and non-textual features. An influential early attempt, for example, to describe some non-verbal aspects of persuasive rhetoric was Atkinson (1984), who identified features like the speaker’s voice quality, intonation, posture, body language, eye movements, and so on, as well as some other non-linguistic ‘tricks’. As influential as this work was, however, these features have tended to be omitted from many subsequent accounts of persuasion in political rhetoric, which have concentrated on features of argumentation operating at a strictly textual level.The overall aim of this work is to suggest pathways towards the ambitious goal of developing a usable, integrated model for analysing political discourse. Instead of analysing a single feature such as metaphor (Charteris-Black 2006), parliamentary insults (Ilie 2004), evaluative language or humour (Swain 1999, 2002), the model attempts to combine descriptions of textual and non-verbal/multimodal features of political discourse, in order to provide a practical tool for analytical purposes, and a coherent account of their possible pragmatic effects.

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1. Introduction It has been suggested, in many accounts of political discourse, e.g. (Halmari & Virtanen, Persuasion across genres: a linguistic approach, 2005; Fairclough & Fairclough, 2012) that persuasion is among the most pervasive of its functions, and most authors agree that the processes involved encompass both textual and non-textual features. The aim of this chapter is to propose a model for political discourse analysis, which may be applied to video representations of political discourse, where this term refers to any of the various sub-genres involved: conference address, TV interview, party political broadcast, presidential debate, appearance on Question Time, and so on. The model attempts to recover the performative dimension (Mast, 2006) of the political speech, in the context of an analytical tradition that has been, in the main, focused primarily on effects at the textual level. An influential early attempt to describe some non-verbal aspects of persuasive rhetoric was Atkinson (Atkinson,1984), who identified features like the speaker’s voice quality, intonation, posture, body language, eye movements, and so on, as well as some other non-linguistic tricks, such as the use of a camera angle that emphasises the speaker’s power. Despite the book’s influence, however, these features have tended to be down-played or simply omitted in many subsequent accounts of persuasion in political rhetoric, many of which have concentrated primarily on textual features. As an example of what I mean, consider this reference, from Charteris-Black’s important work on metaphor in political discourse, where he discusses Obama’s use of the dramatic pause: ‘Yes. We. Can’ - notice the intonational emphasis that comes from treating these three words as separate rather than as a phrase. Delivery is also an essential component of classical rhetoric (Charteris-Black, 2005, p. 290). The issue is that ‘also’, with which the concept of delivery is referred to here. This is, in fact, the only explicit reference the writer makes to intonation in this work which, as it deals with the subject of metaphor, has less space to devote to other factors. I am not, of course, suggesting that non-verbal factors do not figure at all in serious studies of political persuasion (see e.g. Fairclough 2000, Chilton 2004); however, where the writer’s attention is on some textual aspect, as is the case here, there may not be space to do them justice. The overall aim of this work, then, is to suggest pathways towards the ambitious goal of developing a usable model for analysing single instances of political discourse that will include non-verbal aspects. Instead of analysing a single textual component such as metaphor, the model attempts to combine descriptions of textual and non-verbal/multimodal features of political discourse, in order to provide a practical tool for analytical purposes. The model, it is hoped, will enable the analyst to approach any sample of political discourse and obtain insights into the persuasive techniques adopted in each separate instance, as well as answers to the specific research questions which motivated the enquiry. 2. Political Discourse Analysis Political discourse analysis (PDA) has branched out over the last thirty or so years in many directions, so that today it is possible to speak of a number of distinct approaches. These may, at times, borrow specific methodologies or tools from one another, but there is no unified methodological approach (nor is it necessarily possible, or desirable, that there should be). Some of the most important currents are: - Rhetorical. Studies of this type build on an ancient western tradition, dating back to Aristotle, of classification and description of rhetorical figures or tropes (Conley, 1990), Kennedy (1994). Among more modern scholars interested in rhetoric, Charteris-Black’s work on critical metaphor analysis (2005, 2014), includes consideration of possible pragmatic effects, thus integrating work on classical rhetoric with more modern approaches; - Critical discourse analysis. Since its earliest days, CDA has been interested in the ways that power and ideology manifest in political discourse. It is impossible to sum up, in a short paragraph, the range and scope of the work of scholars like Chilton, Fairclough, Wodak or Van Dijk, but some of their key studies have shed light on manipulative discursive processes in the areas of political language (Fairclough 2000), racism, (Van Dijk 1995, 2000), Wodak (2009), gender inequalities and other social issues (Chilton 2004, Chilton et al 2012, Fairclough 1992, 2000, Fairclough and Fairclough 2012). These studies probe beneath the surface of discourse, to expose implicit ideologies and institutionalised patterns of inequality and injustice. - Corpus linguistics. There are numerous studies of political discourse using corpora of speeches or other political discourse (e.g. Partington 2009, 2012), while many studies from other currents adopt methodologies from corpus linguistics (e.g. Halmari 2005). One advantage of this methodology is that it allows for the study of large collections of texts, either from one speaker or a number of different speakers, allowing for the observation of textual patterns that recur across the genre. Alongside these major trends are others, arguably with fewer adherents but nonetheless making significant contributions to the field: work on political discourse has been done in Cognitive Linguistics (e.g. Lakoff 2002, 2016, Van Dijk 2006), Multimodality (Chouliaraki, 2005), and approaches based on Appraisal Theory (Martin & White, 2005), Pragmatics (Wilson, 1990) and Conversation Analysis (Atkinson, 1984). The picture of PDA that emerges from this necessarily brief outline is one of consolidated advances on many fronts. It may be, however, that some of these analytical methodologies follow their own heuristic pathways at the expense of developing an overall picture, and this trend complicates the task of defining an analytical model capable of general application, for the beginner as well as for the more experienced analyst of political discourse. This chapter attempts to unite some of these diverse currents in an analytical model that will give due weight to a variety of contributory factors in its reading of any sample of political discourse. The model consists of analysing the following components: the context, setting, camera-work, voice quality, kinesic features, rhetorical figures, evaluation, ethos, pathos and logos. Case Study: Bill Clinton’s confession to the American people of his involvement with Monica Lewinsky In this section, the analytical model referred to above is applied to political discourse, in an illustrative case study, of Bill Clinton’s address to the American people admitting to his involvement with Monica Lewinsky[1]. The research question involved in my study of this confessional address relates to understanding the role the speech played in Clinton’s rescue of his presidency, following an extremely serious scandal. Not only did he stand condemned, in the popular mind, of abusing his powerful position to obtain sexual favours but, more seriously, he had gone public with his denial of involvement. Therefore, like Republican president Richard Nixon before him, he stood accused of having lied to the American people, something which the American people are known to judge more seriously than many offences of ‘first order’ (Jaworski & Galasin, 2002, p. 630). Following Clinton’s admission of guilt, in fact, his approval ratings dropped to 57% (Mast, 2006, p. 136), though paradoxically they soon began to recover, peaking at 73% in the immediate aftermath of the impeachment procedure, a rating that exceeded any result recorded by one of the most popular of all American presidents, Ronald Reagan[2]. Clinton was able to serve out his term, and the following endorsement from ABC News was to sum up how many Americans felt about their late president: You can’t trust him, he’s got weak morals and ethics - and he’s done a heck of a good job[3]. The following table (table one) gives a broad picture of the model’s analytical criteria as they are exemplified in the Clinton confession video. For reasons of space, it is not possible to include more than brief summaries of these points in the table itself, and each category is then followed up in more detail below. Table 1 The model applied to Clinton’s confessional address Context Clinton confesses his affair with Monica Lewinsky to the US people Setting Presidential office (White House Map Room); Bowl of flowers back left; BC wears immaculate dark suit, white shirt, blue tie; Indistinct furniture behind; Darkness, chiaroscuro, like a Rembrandt self-portrait Camera Mid-shot, then moving into close-up then very close-up, drawing back to mid-shot at the end Voice Even tone, falling intonation pattern on sentence ends; Emphasises key words (“it was wrong”); Frequent dramatic pauses Kinesic features Looks straight at the camera, serious expression No hand gestures No smiles Rhetorical figures Alliteration, Anaphora, Amplification, Parallelism, Tricolon Evaluation BC: Positive and negative Independent counsel investigation: negative Ethos, pathos Ethos: Attempt to rescue BC’s damaged persona Pathos: Embarassment / Regret / Concern / Hurt Logos Even presidents have private lives 3. Context At the apex of his success, Bill Clinton was seen as perhaps the most charismatic democratic president since J.F. Kennedy, and his skills as a communicator have been compared favourably with those of Ronald Reagan, the so-called ‘great communicator’ (Halmari, 2005). The scandal over his relationship with the intern Monica Lewinsky which, in 1998, almost resulted in his impeachment and removal from office, was the most serious in modern US political life since 1974, when Nixon had been forced to resign rather than risk impeachment over his role in the Watergate burglary and cover up. It is important to include Nixon in this description of the context, for otherwise it is hard to understand certain references in the Clinton speech, as we shall see below. Clinton is filmed here confessing to the American people what he had previously denied for seven months, that he had had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, his hand finally forced by a semen-stained dress which was delivered to the Starr investigators, in late July 1998. The film was broadcast on American television, following Clinton’s testimony on the affair to the Grand Jury, on 17th August 1998. 4. Setting The setting of any staged political performance is extremely revealing, since it is an aspect of the event over which the speaker and his team have complete control. It can therefore be meticulously prepared, in order to support a particular interpretation or reading of the event by viewers. In this case, Clinton appears in a White House office, dressed in an immaculate suit, white shirt and blue tie. A bowl of carefully arranged flowers is the most noticeable object in the background, which also features the indistinct shapes of a painting and a table or writing desk. The scene is curiously lit, in a complex mixture of light and shade strongly reminiscent of the chiaroscuro techniques used by artists such as Rembrandt (figure 1). Figure 1. The setting Interpreting the overtones of any such image will naturally involve a degree of subjectivity. However, we can advance certain assertions about the setting that might be widely shared, alongside others of a more subjective nature. In the former category it would seem unproblematic to say that one effect of this presentation is to emphasise the president’s gravitas: he looks every inch a world leader, and is speaking from a location most viewers will immediately recognise as inside the White House. The use of darkness underlines the seriousness of the occasion, emphasised also by the president’s unsmiling demeanour. More speculatively, perhaps, we might feel that the setting encourages thoughts of a religious nature: the lighting, and the flowers, recall the interior of a church, while the sombre figure, whose suit merges with the dark background, appears in the penitential, self-questioning guise familiar in western art from Rembrandt’s self-portraits. 5. Camera As we can see from figure one, above, the camera angle is at eye level, which Kress and Van Leeuwen (1996: 140), in the context of photography, associate with ‘equality’ and lack of ‘power difference’. The scene opens with a mid-shot, moving slowly into close-up (from 00.24-00.35). From 01.38 to 01.45 it moves into very close-up, where it stays until the end of the discourse. From 04.10 to 04.13 the camera moves out, back into mid-shot; returning, that is, to its position in the opening. The effect of this is to gradually focus on the president, to deepen the sense of confession and intimacy, and to symbolise, by the fixity of the very close-up shot when it arrives, the fact that the heart of the message has been arrived at. Likewise, the retraction of the shot, towards the end of the film, signals that the moment of uncharacteristic closeness, when ‘we’ the viewers are privileged to be told intimate details about the private life of the president, is over, and normal distances are resumed. 6. Voice In terms of Van Leeuwen’s classification of voice qualities, Clinton’s voice is soft and intimate throughout, and would be seen as a ‘personal’ tone, denoting a relationship with the interlocutor of ‘close friendship’ (Van Leeuwen, 1999, p. 191). There is a tendency for his sentences to conclude with a falling intonation, a pattern found in assertions rather than questions, which has also been associated with an attitude of “assertiveness, aggression, and confidence” in the speaker (Cook, 2002, pp. 85-6). The following sample is fairly typical of Clinton’s use of pauses, emphasis and falling intonation on sentence ends[4]: Indeed I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not (â) appropriate (-) in fact (+) it was (â) wrong (++) it constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part (+) for which I am (â) solely (-) and (â) completely responsible (8-11). As we shall see, in fact, Clinton’s message, though admitting wrong-doing, is not one of contrition alone; rather, he is making a positive case against unnamed opponents, moving the discourse away from the confessional space and into familiar, partisan terrain, in which a more assertive tone is quite appropriate. 7. Kinesic features Clinton is generally immobile throughout the speech, and there are no hand gestures. We only see the upper half of the figure, whose gaze is directly at the camera. The viewer is thereby engaged by the president in a one-way dialogue; the gaze positions him/her as the addressed. A personal relationship with the viewer is signalled, and symbolised, by this feature of the shooting (Kress & Van Leeuwen, 1996, pp. 120-1), (Baldry & Thibault, 2006, p. 201). There are several points where he appears about to change posture (01.03, 01.17, 02.40, 03.14, 03.24, 03.49); the body moves a little to the right, but then resumes its former position. These slight movements appear to mark shifts in discourse; the first, for example, occurs after the confession (8-11), as he moves on to speak of his testimony to the Grand Jury: /------------------/ But I told the Grand Jury today (11-12) Another of these slight postural shifts comes towards the end, when he says ‘and so tonight’ (36-37), changing the subject from the preceding discussion of the negative impact of the affair on American political life, and moving towards his conclusion. Clinton’s physical stillness further focuses viewers’ attention on the slight movements of his head and face; but here too, movements are restrained. He dips his head in greeting at the beginning of the speech (00.03), and emphasises certain words with a similar slight nod: / 2 the grand jury [00.12] / 2-3 I answered their questions truthfully [00.15] / 9-10 In fact, it was wrong [00.52] It is possible, since we understand that this is a confession, to read these lateral head motions and slight nods as kinesic tokens of the speaker’s culpability, as if he were saying, as the head nods, something like “Yes, I know, I did this, and it was wrong”. This is particularly in evidence when he speaks of having deceived his wife: / / / / 14-15. I misled people. Including even my wife (01.22-01.26) The most notable kinesic feature, however, is Clinton’s eyebrow movements. They are frequently raised in a way that causes wrinkling of the forehead, and seem to occur when Clinton wants to emphasise a particular point: / ------------------------------------------------------------- 18-19 [..] politically inspired lawsuit, which has since been dismissed, was a consideration too (01.48-01.54) Here, for example, the wrinkling of the forehead appears on the relative pronoun introducing a clause in which the president speaks of the dismissal of the politically inspired lawsuit, and gradually subsides over the duration of the clause. 8. Rhetorical figures The following table shows the rhetorical figures found in the address: Table 2 Rhetorical figures in Clinton address Feature Text Line Alliteration constituted a critical lapse a personal failure on my part pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives 10 10-11 31-32 Amplification that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It’s nobody’s business but ours. Even presidents have private lives. Now it is time - in fact, it is past time to move on. 9-10 29-31 34-35 Anaphora questions truthfully, including questions about my private life, questions dealings 20 years ago, dealings The investigation itself is under investigation reclaim my family life for my family 2-3 21 25 30 Contrast both public and private all the challenges and all the promise of the next American century 5 38-39 Parallelism my public comments and my silence to all the challenges and all the promise to repair the fabric of our national discourse, and to return our attention to all the challenges 13-14 38-39 38-39 Tricolon This has gone on too long, cost too much and hurt too many innocent people real opportunities to seize, real problems to solve, real security matters to face 25-26 35-36 The principal function of Alliteration, perhaps, is embellishment, though in the final instance we might feel that it allows the president to achieve a certain crescendo effect, underlining the gravity, from the speaker’s point of view, of the behaviour he is criticising: pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives The rhetorical devices here appear to serve two main roles; firstly, they assist in the development of Clinton’s argument, and secondly they help in the reconstruction of presidential distance and authority at the close of the address. In terms of his argument, for example, Amplification is used as he moves from a personal statement, through a generalisation, to advance a specific political argument (29-31): I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It’s nobody’s business but ours. Even presidents have private lives. Such a formula has a significant interpersonal charge, as Clinton appeals to family values, one of America’s ideological constants: few viewers would deny the implicit deontic force of the first two sentences, with their appeal to a widely shared framework of values in America. The likeliness that hearers will assent to the implicit proposition (every family has the right to its private space) makes more plausible the jump to Clinton’s overall claim, in this address, that he also has a right to a private space. As Clinton concludes the address, there is an emergence of a rhetorical style more typical of presidential prose, as he speaks of ‘all the challenges and all the promise of the next American century’ (contrast, parallelism) and ‘real opportunities to seize, real problems to solve, real security matters to face’ (tricolon). Such phrases represent enormous generalisations - the problems are connected with weighty global matters such as the Middle East peace process, arms reduction talks with the Soviets, and so on - matters deserving the attention of an American president and the national media. They contrast markedly with the intimate personal details of the Lewinsky case. While the latter details position the president as close to his viewers, the former construe distance, as he evokes a discourse world far removed from their experience and concerns. Thus, this return of presidential rhetoric signals the end - at least, Clinton hopes it will be the end - not just of this intimate, confessional speech, but of an extraordinary period in America’s public life, in which the minutiae of a president’s private life loomed larger in the national consciousness than these pressing global issues. 9. Evaluation Evaluative language has been the subject of extensive research in linguistics, leading to the development of sophisticated tools, such as the Appraisal Framework, which is capable of registering the slightest semantic nuances. It would be possible to use such a tool on the Clinton address and obtain much useful information; to avoid undue complication of the model, however, I prefer to use a less technical approach to evaluation, asking just the following basic questions of Clinton’s discourse: who or what is being evaluated, and how, i.e. positively or negatively. This may only provide a rough picture of Clinton’s use of evaluation, but it will be sufficient for the purposes of the study (see table 3, below). Table 3 Clinton address: Evaluation Who/what evaluated Reference Positive/ Negative Line Clinton I answered their questions truthfully + 2-3 In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part - 9-11 at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action + 12-13 I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression - 13-14 I misled people, including even my wife - 14-15 I was also very concerned about protecting my family + 17-18 (+ wife) an independent federal agency found no evidence of any wrongdoing by me or my wife over two years ago + 22-23 I must put it right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so + 28 (Republicans/ press) It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives and get on with our national life - 31-32 I take my responsibility for my part in all of this + - 33-34 This basic approach shows several things: firstly, Clinton’s evaluations are mostly directed at himself and his own conduct. We might expect his evaluations to be negative, since this is, after all, a confession. In fact, however, there are six positive evaluations (1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 10), against only three negative (2,4,10). Clinton’s positive qualities are emphasised: his truthfulness (1), probity (3), protectiveness (6), honesty (7), tenacity (8) and responsibility (10). Secondly, his negative evaluations of himself are mitigated in several ways. There is no use of intensification (Martin & White, 2005, p. 20) to emphasise the speaker’s sense of his own shortcomings. Clinton just calls his behaviour by the simple term ‘wrong’, specifying in the same breath that it constituted a ‘critical lapse in judgement’. However, to call something a lapse in judgement is to shift blame from the moral towards the practical sphere. Again, use of the nominalised structure ‘a personal failure’ (11) rather than an agentive formulation (‘I failed’) is a strategy that aims at mitigation. Finally, to represent untruthfulness as ‘misleading people’ (5) or ‘giving a false impression’ (4) is very different from saying ‘I lied’. As we have seen, Clinton is not shy of using the word ‘truth’ in connection with his own conduct (1). The final instance of evaluation (10) has been coded both positively and negatively. Paradoxically, though Clinton admits responsibility for his part in the affair, he is able to exploit the positive associations of ‘owning up’, ‘taking responsibility for one’s actions’, etc. to preserve, rather than diminish, his own face. Summing up the picture of Clinton’s use of evaluation, it is clear that it has a role to play in mitigating his own culpability, as well as forming part of a wider pattern of partisan argumentation, which I will explore shortly. 10. Ethos, pathos Aristotle talks of three qualities as involved in a speaker’s ethos: good sense, good moral character, and goodwill (Aristotle, 1954, p. 91). Once people feel that their political representatives lack these qualities, they will lose faith in them. This consideration may further account for Clinton’s representations of his own behaviour which, as we have just seen, emphasise his good qualities while mitigating his faults. The attempt is to repair a severely tarnished presidential image. In terms of pathos, Clinton refers to the emotional realms of regret (15), embarassment (17), concern (20) and hurt (26). Taken with the general darkness of the setting, and the sombre overall mood, Clinton’s expression of regret, which is intensified by the adverb ‘deeply’ and accompanied by a sincere, tender expression (01.29), may be expected to affect viewers. Embarassment is only briefly mentioned, and his expressions of concern relate to business matters, and are less relevant. As for the attempt to evoke sympathy for the ‘many innocent people’ who have been hurt by the affair, this occurs in the context of Clinton’s attack on the process of investigation. It forms, therefore, part of Clinton’s overall argument against his political opponents; probably it would have had more pathos if it had figured as part of his own confession. More forceful emotional responses are cued by the speaker’s demeanour and the other kinesic features, analysed above. Two of these stand out; firstly, a certain self-pity is evident at the outset (and returns, briefly, at the very close of the address), with Clinton’s sombre face, the darkness of the setting, and his opening representation of himself as having had to testify about his private life, just like any other ‘American citizen’ (4). However, from line 11, where there is the slightest hint of a smile (01.03), Clinton’s mood lightens, becoming more confident, even belligerent, peaking as he proclaims: I intend to reclaim my family life for my family (30) His tone remains confident until the conclusion. As the camera shot moves away from the president’s silent figure, however, a darker mood seems to return. 11. Logos: argumentation I am using a simplified model of the Toulmin model of argumentation (Toulmin, 1958) to describe the basic argument advanced here: Data (because) Warrant (since) Claim (therefore) This matter is private (29) Even presidents have private lives (31) We should, as a nation, move on from this (34-35) Figure 2. Clinton address, argumentation As we have seen, Clinton’s address is not simply an admission of mea culpa; rather, he uses the occasion to attack the Republicans, blaming them for drawing out the process, to the detriment of America’s national interests. In other words, while he admits his guilt in the specific instance, Republicans and unspecified media sources are blamed on two counts: firstly, it was they who have dragged the affair out for seven months, and secondly, because of this they are the ones responsible for the excessive costs incurred, and the hurt suffered by many innocent people. There are other instances of argumentation in the speech, but the one isolated above appears the crux of Clinton’s use of logos in this address. Though apparently based on normative assumptions of generalised applicability, it is an inherently political, partisan argument. If viewers accept the argument that even presidents have private lives, then they are also invited to attribute the blame for the extended legal process, the obsessive circus of judicial and media activity, to the Republican party and their media outlets. Parenthetically, of course, it is true that, had Clinton made this address seven months previously, the investigation would have been unnecessary. References to this possible objection are found in the address, where Clinton speaks of political and personal reasons for his initial silence (16-23). 12. Discussion In analysing any sample of political speech, it is necessary to ask ourselves a basic question: what is the purpose underlying this discourse, what is the speaker hoping to achieve? I have mentioned above that, for most politicians, the key concept in most of their speeches is that of persuasion, and Clinton’s performance here is no exception. The most important context feature relates to the extent to which Clinton’s image, as one of the most promising Democratic presidents of the post-war period, had been damaged by the Lewinsky scandal. For seven months, the attention of media, not just in America but globally had been mesmerised by the stream of daily information about the affair, and Clinton had begun to be widely characterised as a philanderer, a cheat and a liar. In order to rescue his presidency, he needed to persuade the American people that he was, after all, their elected president and that, despite his personal foibles, he was still able to function. These context features help us to understand the curious tension in this address, a presidential media appearance almost without precedent. This was not, like Nixon’s address on Watergate, an ignominious farewell broadcast. Clinton had to perform the rhetorical feat of confessing to actual wrong-doing in his intimate, personal life while at the same time informing the American people that he intended to carry on in office. Not only that, but he also had to justify his ‘second-order’ conduct, of lying about his behaviour to the American people. As I have analysed, above, the kinesic features, the setting and camera work all underline the serious, confessional mood that dominates the first part of the address, while Clinton’s text, though admitting his guilt, attempts to mitigate the gravity of his offences in a number of ways. Grammatical metaphor is used to objectify processes and distance the speaker from involvement in them: the embarrassment of my own conduct (16-17), a personal failure on my part (10-11), my silence about this matter (14), etc. As we have also seen, positive self evaluation actually predominates over negative, with an attempt at mitigation. Sufficient positive qualities of the subject are listed to suggest that this offence could represent an occasional blemish in an otherwise exemplary life. I have suggested, above, that at a certain point in the address Clinton’s tone becomes more confident and assertive, and that this coincides with the moment when, having dealt with the topic of his personal failings to some extent, he is able to go on the attack and make some partisan points. A covert attack on the Republican party emerges from Clinton’s evaluations, when he says: at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action (12-13). This would seem to be a reference to the Watergate scandal, where Clinton’s Republican counterpart, President Nixon, did precisely these things in order to hush up his own involvement in the affair. Clinton seems to be advancing a covert argument, which might be paraphrased: “Yes, I know, I did something wrong and lied to the American people about it (just like Nixon): however, I’m different because, while he asked people to lie, to hide and destroy evidence, I didn’t.” The attack is deepened in (31-32), where he refers to unspecified people pursuing “personal destruction”, “prying into private lives”. Probably the Republican media are referred to here, though Clinton is careful to refrain from attacking the Republicans too openly. Social actors involved in these processes are not specified, and there is vagueness too in his phrases ‘a politically inspired lawsuit’ (18-19), and ‘an independent counsel investigation’ (20-21). Unlike his wife, Hillary, who had initially claimed that the whole Lewinsky case was due to a ‘vast right-wing conspiracy’[5], Clinton avoids contextualising the affair too solidly in partisan politics. This would only have been possible in the absence of direct proof of his culpability; in the context of a confessional address it would hardly have been appropriate. However, Clinton is making covert gestures in this direction, and devotes a significant portion of the address (18-25) to an allusive summary of the legal harassment he and his wife had suffered at the hands of various unspecified, but politically inspired, social actors. Thus, for at least part of the address, Clinton is back on more familiar terrain; and, as we saw above, this is reflected in the accompanying kinesic and rhetorical features. He is clearly more comfortable signalling his determination to fight these unnamed opponents than he is discussing his failures as a moral individual. By the end, when the discourse has moved definitively away from the intimate sphere, back to the impersonal realm of vast global processes, Clinton’s language becomes more rhetorical, more ‘presidential’, and the insecure figure of the video’s opening has been replaced by something more substantial. 13. Conclusion For a prominent politician, axiological concepts such as truthfulness and justice readily become subordinate to the political process. In the Lewinsky affair, it is clear that Clinton’s behaviour was questionable on many levels, but it is also true that the Republican party wanted to make the utmost use of a political windfall. The process of justice was, therefore, complicated by mediated point-scoring in which innocence and guilt were subordinated to a lower level, partisan logic, and this is visible in the confessional address. Castells suggests that the ultimate failure of the Republican campaign against Clinton could have been due to public fatigue with “attack culture” (Castells, 2009, p. 252) and, though many Americans recognised his guilt, it would seem that they were not prepared to side with his accusers against him. Despite this, the sentiments expressed by prominent Republican Alan Keyes sum up a widespread feeling at the time that America had witnessed “a failure and betrayal of moral stewardship at the highest level in our nation’s life”[6]. Confession, as Foucault (Foucault, 1981) pointed out, requires the presence - or virtual presence - of someone who is “not simply the interlocutor but the authority who requires the confession, prescribes and appreciates it, and intervenes in order to judge, forgive, console, and reconcile” (Foucault, 1981, p. 61), in Fairclough 1992: 53). This accounts for another source of tension in the Clinton confessional address, that constituted by the ambiguities surrounding its intended audience. The appropriate interlocutor for Clinton would surely be his wife Hillary, as the person most injured by his actions; yet she is the last person in the speaker’s thoughts. Possibly she did not even watch the address; almost certainly, she had a hand in writing it. Rather, Clinton’s intended audience is the American public; but in a sense, his ‘confession’ of involvement with Lewinsky is none of their business, as Clinton himself is at pains to underline. To what, then, is he confessing? The answer to this, it has been suggested above, is to the ‘crime’ of having attempted to deceive the American people, and we have seen that several of his attempts at self-justification lead in this direction. If this is true, however, then nothing said in the address would regard his transgression of the canons of his self-professed faith (line 28), his abuse of power regarding Monica Lewinsky, nor his bringing the institution he serves into global disrepute. It would seem, from what has been said above regarding the president’s end of term approval ratings, that Americans tended either to forgive and forget Clinton’s offences in these areas, or simply to subordinate moral logic to partisan considerations. In other words, Republicans might have been inclined to judge Clinton’s behaviour harshly, but this is only natural in one they regarded as a political enemy, while Democrats had every reason to find excuses for him. I would suggest that the success of this address lies, at least partially, in its blending of the genres of confessional/reality show and presidential broadcast, to create a portrait - a la Rembrandt - of a man who is able to balance the conflicting demands of his private and public roles, whose arguments are based on widely shared considerations in American society, and who is able, ultimately, to reclaim an appropriately ‘presidential’ aura of authority. The model I have outlined in this paper has referred to many sources, applying a variety of concepts, approaches and methodologies which have necessarily been drawn on in a limited way, for reasons of space. This applies to the notion of context, about which a great deal more could be usefully written, and evaluative language, which could have been explored much more thoroughly using the Appraisal Framework, as I said above. It is true for the other features, about all of which entire books have been written. I hope that even this rough-grained analysis, integrating these features with other kinesic and textual aspects of political discourse, has been adequate to illustrate the operation of the model, and its analytical potentialities. Clearly, enriching or deepening the application of any one of the descriptors would be possible, and would affect the outcome of the analysis as a whole. It is also true that the selection of these particular textual/multimodal features, rather than others, would require more justification than has been possible here. An exploration of the ways in which the features interact with one another, contributing together to an overall persuasive effect, would also be a possible future research pathway. However, my intention in this chapter, as I said at the outset, has been to recover an emphasis on some of the non-verbal dimensions of political speech, in an analytical context that seems, over the course of its development, to have given undue weight to the textual aspects of political persuasion. © Douglas M. Ponton, 2016 Appendix: Clinton’s address to the American people on the Lewinsky affair, 17th August 1998 Time Line Text 0.00-3.40 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Good evening. This afternoon in this room, from this chair, I testified before the Office of Independent Counsel and the grand jury. I answered their questions truthfully, including questions about my private life, questions no American citizen would ever want to answer. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions, both public and private. And that is why I am speaking to you tonight. As you know, in a deposition in January, I was asked questions about my relationship with Monica Lewinsky. While my answers were legally accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgment and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. But I told the grand jury today and I say to you now that at no time did I ask anyone to lie, to hide or destroy evidence or to take any other unlawful action. I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that. I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors. First, by a desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. I was also very concerned about protecting my family. The fact that these questions were being asked in a politically inspired lawsuit, which has since been dismissed, was a consideration, too. In addition, I had real and serious concerns about an independent counsel investigation that began with private business dealings 20 years ago, dealings I might add about which an independent federal agency found no evidence of any wrongdoing by me or my wife over two years ago. The independent counsel investigation moved on to my staff and friends, then into my private life. And now the investigation itself is under investigation. This has gone on too long, cost too much and hurt too many innocent people. Now, this matter is between me, the two people I love most - my wife and our daughter - and our God. I must put it right, and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so. Nothing is more important to me personally. But it is private, and I intend to reclaim my family life for my family. It’s nobody’s business but ours. Even presidents have private lives. It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives and get on with our national life. Our country has been distracted by this matter for too long, and I take my responsibility for my part in all of this. That is all I can do. Now it is time - in fact, it is past time to move on. We have important work to do - real opportunities to seize, real problems to solve, real security matters to face. And so tonight, I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of the past seven months, to repair the fabric of our national discourse, and to return our attention to all the challenges and all the promise of the next American century. Thank you for watching. And good night.

About the authors

Douglas Mark Ponton

University of Catania

1 Viva Cava Gucciardo Pirato, 97015, Catania, Italy


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