Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr James J. Kinney


By exploring classical and contemporary conceptions of rhetorical ethos, this thesis assembles theories of analysis and then applies them in the form of rhetorical analysis of the rhetorical ethos exhibited by President George W. Bush in his presidential speeches. The theoretical investigation reveals the extensive use of the ethical appeal in all manner of rhetorical situations in the contemporary world but especially focuses on how political rhetoric has come to rely predominantly on this persuasive appeal. The study examines several speeches given by President Bush and concludes that his success as president is attributed largely to the sophisticated rhetorical strategies executed by his administration, especially its construction of a presidential ethos. However, the inquiry also reveals a disconcerting degree of misleading and deceptive rhetoric, which the author argues has resulted in a serious decline in public support for President Bush as he approaches his sixth year in office.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008