Date of Award

8-2006

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

Advisor

Sandra J. Berkowitz

Second Committee Member

Nathan E. Stormer

Third Committee Member

Eric E. Peterson

Abstract

This study examines Bill Clinton's 1992 Democratic National Convention video, A Man from Hope. In doing a rhetorical criticism of A Man from Hope, I provide a reading of several moments in presidential history (i.e. - Kennedy's mythic appeal, Nixon's Watergate Scandal, Carter's ineffectiveness, and Reagan's mythic status) that allow Clinton to recreate the "frontier" myth. Clinton turns the "frontier" myth into the "one country" myth while creating a sense of identification with his audience(s). Clinton uses the rhetorical tools of myth and identification throughout the video. Clinton's message through the use of these strategies is one of responsibility not entitlement. Clinton's progressions through A Man porn Hope toward a message of civic responsibility enable an investigation of Clinton's continued use of the strategies of myth and identification throughout his presidency. I argue that Clinton uses these strategies to convey a message of civic responsibility, wherein attempting to create a higher level of civic engagement. 1 also argue for studying civic engagement through a communicative perspective (McKinney et al. 2005). There are three examples of Clinton's discourse that are under investigation, Clinton's 1902 Democratic National Convention address, his 1997 Race Initiative, and his 2000 Farewell address. The race initiative is Clinton's example of civic engagement, where as the other two speeches help contextualized Clinton's civic initiative. Throughout all of these examples Clinton presents a message of "one country" through civic engagement. In concluding the study 1 discuss first how the Democratic Party could/should use Clinton's clear message of "one country"in the upcoming mid tern^ elections in 2006 as well as the subsequent presidential election in 2008. The Democratic Party should work towards creating that sense of identification, but needs to do so through a clear message of difference with the Republican Party. Second, I argue that it is the job of both media and scholars to help create a more civically engaged society. The media must be willing to report those stories that have serious impact on societal involvement (i.e., Clinton's Race initiative). Scholars must use their resources to help the surrounding communities become more engaged. Educators have a responsibility to their students to talk about issues that affect their communities. Researchers need to be committed to doing research that helps the greater good in society (i.e., community building grants).

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