Honors College Thesis


Presidential Framing of Failure : A Pentadic Rhetorical Criticism of President Donald Trump’s Rhetoric on Policy Failure with Obamacare Public Deposited

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  • In October, 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump released a document titled “Contract with the American Voter.” This document promised, among many things, that within his first 100 days of his potential presidency, he would repeal and replace Obamacare. When he was unable to fulfill that promise, he employed rhetorical tactics to maintain his credibility in the face of failure. In this thesis, I argue that in order to maintain his credibility after failing to repeal and replace Obamacare by the time he said he would Trump constructs a specific worldview in which his ideas are the only true reality and he is the only savior for his audience against destructive enemies. To analyze this, I use Kenneth Burke's Pentadic criticism on two of President Trump's speeches: his Response to Republican Health Care Bill Failure delivered on March 6th, 2017 and the Signing of the Executive Order to Dismantle Obamacare from October 12th, 2017. In both of these speeches, he presents the same pentad, with the dominating terms being agent (Democrats) and purpose (stopping President Trump from making progress and positive change) which indicates that his motives are dictated by the ideological schools of idealism and mysticism.
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