Presidential Televised Debates
The data collected were the transcript of the third and final televised debate, from all the three presidential televised debates, in the presidential race that was held on October 22 at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida (the complete text of third debate can be downloaded from the Internet). President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney were candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties. They met each other respectively in the 2012 election for president of the United States. This time, the focus was mainly on foreign policy.
The transcription of the data is (68) pages, (1,559) lines, and (17,132) words (see appendix). In the 90-minute program moderated by Bob Scheiffer, the president and his challenger focused on highlighting their agreements rather than the differences related to the U.S biased and controversial role in the world, especially, Iran's nuclear program and the ongoing unrest in the Middle East. The topics discussed in this debate included the recent attack on the U.S consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and 'the Arab Spring,' especially the war on Syria. The relations with Israel, the relations with Pakistan, the War on Terror, the withdrawal of U.S troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and the relations and trade with China, as well as the rising scale of this nation were also discussed. These topics (macro meanings) are generally organized by a general strategy of positive self-presentation (boasting) and negative other-presentation (derogation), as suggested before. In an ideologically polarized political text, as an ideological rule, negative information about 'us' (i.e. related to debater's in-groups such America and its allies) will not be topicalized, whereas negative information about 'them' tends to be topicalized. Thus, Islam and the Third World countries will primarily be topicalized as different, deviant or as a threat. This means that topicalization is also subject to ideological management.
The format of this debate was identical to that of the first and second debates. There were six 15-minute segments, with the moderator to introduce a topic and begin questioning immediately, then give each candidate two minutes to respond, before allowing the candidates to discuss the topics. Candidates also have a sequence chance of an opening and a closing statement. It has been presented the last opportunity for the candidates to face each other just two weeks before the Election Day.
3.2 Significance of Data
U.S televised political campaign debates deserve scholarly attention, because they constitute one of the most prominent genres of the of political discourse among the symbolic elites such as politicians, journalists, writers, professors, teachers and others who have special access to, or who control the 'influential forms of public discourse'. Indeed, if these elites are mainly responsible for the reproduction of knowledge, attitudes, and ideologies in society, they are also responsible for the reproduction of 'subtle', 'modern', or 'new' forms of racist ideas in public at large (Van Dijk 2002a:148). This is more significant since the final televised presidential debate was covered and politically analyzed by dozens of different types of mass media and television news networks like CNN, ABC, BBC, FOX, NBC, etc. and watched by around 67 million people domestically and much more worldwide.
Against this background racism of elite discourse in general and the role of presidential race politics in particular, the researcher looks for probing somewhat deeper into some of the mechanisms, moves, and strategies employed by candidates in defining the other. However, much of this work focuses on the psychological or cultural perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, and ideologies; on the mental strategies of categorization, differentiation, and polarization; or on the social strategies of exclusion, inferiorization, and marginalization, among others. Thus, ??we' is usually associated with what is good, and 'they' is often associated with bad. Thus, ??we' and ??us' (Americans, westerners) are associated with modernity, progress, democracy, tolerance, moderateness, leadership, initiative, and so on. Oppositely, ??they' and ??them' (terrorists, Arabs, Muslim fundamentalists, or generally non-whites) tend to be associated with backwardness, stagnation, dictatorship, fundamentalism, lack of initiative, delinquency drugs, and so on. According to Van Dijk (2006a:128-129), in 'an important political speech of a president or presidential candidate practically each word is chosen as a function of its ideological and communicative presupposition and implications.' Therefore, the researcher focus on the detailed ways in which president Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney show almost similarity when they speak badly about 'others' and on how such discourse may contribute to the reproduction of ethnic prejudice and hence to the explicit and mostly disguised or hidden system of racism.
It is hypothesized that stereotypical topics, euphemism, disclaimers that save face and hence manage impression formation will be encountered in the data. They engage in similar argumentative fallacies, make similar lexical selections when talking about ??them', hyperbole, or use the same metaphors to emphasize some of their ??bad characteristics'. Obviously, similar moves may also be expected in this debate about political opponents and political out-groups (e.g., communists, fundamentalists, terrorists, etc.). All these different structures at different levels can be considered as part of critical-political discourse analysis, which deals especially with the reproduction of political power, power abuse, or domination through political discourse, including consequences of social and political inequality and injustice within the framework of ideological square.
Besides, an analysis of the usual properties of ideological and political discourse, such as the overall strategy of in-group favoritism and out-group derogation, encoded in meaning, argumentative and rhetoric devices, the researcher takes advantage of the concept of intertextuality. This concept is founded on the notion that texts cannot be viewed or studied separately since text are not produced or consumed in isolation: all texts exist and therefore must be understood and analyzed, in relation to other text (Phillips and Jorgensen,2002:70). Hence, the researcher devotes plentiful time on intensive and extensive readings of dozens of politically analyzed articles and papers, as well as on the political context of Obama and Romney's speeches. These readings and the researcher's political information represent inferences for his general and particular political and historical knowledge when he wants to pay special attention to ideopolitical implications and implicatures of the debate. The majority of these analyses are biased since they adopt the dominant people's points of view, the others are critically written. However, it should be highly remarked that no linguistics analysis is found for this data at all.
The researcher is going to analyze small fragments as concrete examples taken from third and final televised debate of the 2012 U.S presidential election race by way of illustration and applying of the theoretical model presented in (). In other words, linguistic forms of text and talk in this data have ideopolitical functions and implications.
3.3.2 Overall Analysis
In connection with the overall analysis of the results of all the data under investigation, various findings are advanced below.
22.214.171.124 Contextual Overview
The presidential debate, as a political discourse 'defined in terms of professional politicians and political institutions,' should not usually analyzed at the levels of text, but rather at the level of context (Van Dijk 2000a: 213). Because, context is defined as 'the mentally represented structure of those properties of the social situation that are relevant for the production or comprehension of discourse'(Van Dijk, 2001b:356).
Context includes 'the overall definition of the situation, setting (time, place), ongoing actions (ibid: 365), participants and their properties and relations in various communicative, social, or institutional roles, as well as their mental representations: goals, knowledge, attitudes, and ideologies (Van Dijk, 2009:68). Debaters not only have mental models of actions or events they talk about, but also 'mental models of the event in which they participate as speakers and recipients.' However, they also express their 'personal (subjective, possibly ideologically biased) representation of the communicative situation' (Van Dijk, 2000a:211).
In order to have a full understanding of the data of this work, the most important and relevant contextual factors of the speech event as introduced above by Van Dijk (2000a, 2001b), are adopted here for the sake of explicating the context of communication in which the debate process goes on. Hence, the definition of the interactive event must be decided according to the time and place of the communicative situation, or to which candidates must or must not be present, 'and in which roles, or what knowledge or opinions they should (not) have, and which social actions may or must be accomplished by debate'(Van Dijk, 2001b:356).
The time of this debate (9:00 pm on October 22, 2012) is chosen intentionally to come on the 50th anniversary of the United States and Cuba Missile Crisis in 1962. The night was when president Kennedy told the world that the Soviet Union had installed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Thus, to send manipulative message to the audience that America may still right now under unexpected imminent threat from Iranian nuclear program and the U.S may come close to nuclear war with Iran.
The Commission on presidential Debates (CPD)has designated Lynn University in Florida, as the location of the final 2012 presidential debate because the University seem to pride itself on having a large number of minority students of African-American and Hispanic origins , the high percentage of foreign students from nearly eighty countries, as well as large Jewish students community. Florida is likely to have great influence on electing the next president, because it is the fourth largest state and will award twenty-nine of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. The location of Florida as close to Cuba and Mexico is also taken into consideration, because it has a large population of American Hispanic as undecided voters. It is hard to know exactly how many of these minorities are present in the audience, but it is reasonable to think that issues related to these minorities will be raised during the debate.
Monday night's debate moderator, Bob Schieffer, who is, according to (CBS News Website), broadcast journalism's most experienced Washington reporter. He has covered Washington for CBS News for more than 30 years and is one of the few journalists to have reported all four major issues in the nation's capital - the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and Capitol Hill (ibid). In Wikipedia, he has been Chief Washington correspondent since 1982 and congressional correspondent since 1989, and has moderated every presidential campaign and has been a principal reporter at all of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions since 1972. Hence, the two candidates are definitely aware of the amount of academic political knowledge and information that Bob Schieffer possesses.
The debates take place in a public sphere as they both have a domestic and international and audience since it is televised nationwide. They are immediate productions of spoken language, and the main social domain is politics.
The discourse under analysis maintains the overall characteristics of unprepared and spontaneous speech. Moreover, the candidates may anticipate the topics of questions, but they have no control or specific idea about what the moderators might ask or how the rival might respond. However, the presidential candidates know that the wrong lexical choice of even one word may have dire consequences of provoking 'angry reactions from minority groups as well as from antiracists or other liberals. Indeed, they know that may be accused of bias, xenophobia, or even racism as soon as they derogate and victimized immigrants, minorities' (Van Dijk, 1997b:36), allied, or non-aligned nations. As anywhere else, especially in this very formal role and for the record, talk of foreign policy is highly self-controlled.
Because of his professionalism and the detail knowledge of the candidates and politics, the moderator is dominant and plays the role of the examiner. Therefore, the candidates are seen as if they were the students who have to pass an exam in the form of a political debate, and the moderators act as their examiners, and the audience waits to select the winner.
This leads us to understand the candidates' motives. The debaters have a clear goal in influencing the audience minds to select them to the other candidate, as being the better nominee for the presidency. This process involves manipulation and propaganda techniques to disclose the next keeper and protector of American interests, and world superior and dominator. The goals of the moderators are asking the questions that will give the audience the information required to show clearly to the audience the candidate's next political election agenda before the Election Day. Because it is a TV-show, however, there is also an underlying goal of entertaining the audience and hence attracting as many viewers as possible.
The reason behind amusing goal is that the hosts for the debates (many national TV-networks) rely financially on sponsors. If the debates become too boring and do not create interest or entertainment, they will not have the desired ratings and will thereby lose money, because fewer sponsors will buy them from the networks for their advertisements.
Although, the debaters and moderators have different goals and roles in the communicative situation that can change the discourse through the course of a debate, they have already known how a debate should be administrated, which can be seen through the fact that there are no violations the rules of appropriateness, or politeness.
However, outbursts of laugh, applause, and hissing are allowed, but controlled and restricted by moderators in such debate. In fact, the candidates need an audible response from the audience in order to establish approval to their arguments.
Finally, the initial situation of this debate can be summarized and contextually characterized as shown in table (1) for all participants.
TABLE (4). A summary of contextual characteristics of the analyzed debate, based on Van Dijk (2001c: 25) and modified by the researcher
GLOBAL ACTION Debate on foreign policy
LOCAL ACTION Debates of presidential candidates
-Date October 22, 2012
-Time 9:00 pm Eastern Time
-Location Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida
-Communicative Interactional roles (speakers, recipients)
-Interactional President Barack Obama vs. Challenger Mitt Romney
-Social Democratic vs. Republican candidates, American audience
-Knowledge Vast common ground of common sense knowledge about the U.S, and the host of knowledge presupposed in the of description foreign policy, debaters, audience etc.
- Aim Debating, evaluating, drawing foreign policies of the next four years and imposing manipulative ideologies on undecided voters and to solidify decisions of people who've already made up their minds
126.96.36.199 Meaning Level
First of all, the researcher has to start with meaning since discourse meaning, according to Van Dijk (2000c:90), 'is the core level for the expression of beliefs, such as personal and social knowledge, opinions, attitudes, ideologies, norms and values'.
Van Dijk (1998a:207) states that 'another ideologically relevant property of meaning is propositional relations, such as implication, entailment and presupposition'. Thus, information that is explicitly topicalized 'may emphasize negative properties of out-groups or positive ones about in-groups', whereas the meanings that have positive properties of out-groups or negative ones about in-groups will be implied or presupposed (ibid: 207). He adds that the famous ideological function of disguising 'real social or political facts or conditions may be semantically managed by various ways of leaving information implicit' (ibid: 207).
Similarly, when acts or events may be described in detail, or do so only with few details, or at higher levels of abstraction. Such variation, may be ideologically encoded person who has interests in revealing or 'concealing such details about social events'. In sum, it can be said that all discourse 'meaning structures are able to 'signify' social positions, group perspective, and interests in the description of events, people, and actions' (ibid: 207).
By the same token, Blommaerts (1999:5) argues that 'every act of communication is grounded in semantic and pragmatic histories which are not simple and linear, but complex, multi-layered and fragmented". Therefore, it is worth mentioning that Van Dijk (2006d) uses broad and general concept of 'meaning ??in his ideological model of analysis to cover all types of meanings, whether they are semantic literal sentence meaning or contextual pragmatic one that goes beyond sentence meaning when a speaker says something and means something else.
Van Dijk (1991:279) describes implications, presuppositions, vagueness, disclaimers, and many others as meaning movies that contribute to an overall strategy that presents ethnic out-groups and their supporters as a fundamental problem and threat white presenting in-group as either neutral or positive. Hence, the distinction between linguistically decoded meaning and pragmatically inferred meaning is out of the scope of this level of data analysis.
188.8.131.52.1 Actor Description
Descriptions are never neutral, but have intended meaning functions in the expression of opinions and viewpoints about others, because 'all discourse on people and action involves various types of actor description' (Van Dijk, 2006d: 62). Thus, some of these actor descriptions are by 'members of groups', 'individuals, 'by first or family name', 'function', 'role', or 'group name', and so on. This move is based on the overall ideological strategy of positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation. Descriptions of out-group may 'be blatantly racist, or they may more subtly convey negative opinions about others' (ibid: 62).
According to Fowler and Kress (1979:200), 'the different possibilities of naming signify different assessments by the speaker/writer of his or her relationship with the person referred to or spoken to, and of the formality or intimacy of the situation'
Examples of which would be stereotypical or ideologically guided naming choices such as 'the mullahs' or 'the fundamentalist Islamic regime" are going to be taken for account. The debaters' naming choices were analyzed for the different actors as a means to identify 'different ideological affiliations' (Sykes, 1985: 87).Throughout this debate, the two speakers examined the ways in which the actors of the events were referred to as ways to establish in- and out-group identities. The following are some examples:
1- ' I think, to the Iranian mullahs that, hey, you know, we can keep on pushing along here, we can keep talks going on, we are just going to keep on spinning centrifuges' (ROM, L:871-873)
In this extract, Romney, the presidential candidate, portrays the Iranian leadership by referring to them negatively as 'mullahs' instead of 'government' to imply to the audience and undecided voters that such government is formed by radical religious clergymen rather than qualified politicians with whom American can keep on negotiating. There are many different religion-based governments worldwide such as the Vatican and Israel, but nobody names their leadership as 'Vatican priests' or 'Israeli rabbis'
2- We have in Egypt, a Muslim Brotherhood president. And so what we are seeing is a pretty dramatic reversal in the kind of hopes we had for that region (ROM, L:52-53)
In the above example, Romney, again and by the same token, uses ideological affiliations of naming instead of neutral labeling as negative other-presentation such as 'the Egyptian president' to imply that such presidents belong to an Islamic extremist group and not politically representative of all Egyptian people including 'Christians'. He implies that Egyptian Christians minority is unsafe, hence U.S foreign policy may have justifiable reason of 'humanitarian' intervention to protect religious minorities in Egypt.
3- ' And I say that because from the very beginning, the president in his campaign four years ago, said he would meet with all the world's worst actors in his first year, he would sit down with Chavez and Kim Jong-il, with Castro and Ahmadinejad of Iran. And I think they looked and thought, well, that is an unusual honor to receive from the President of the United States.(ROM, L:858-862)
It can be understood from the example (3) that the way actors are described in the debate also depends on speakers' ideologies. Typically, they tend to describe in-group members in a neutral or positive way and out-group members in a negative way. Similarly, they will mitigate negative descriptions of members of their own group, and emphasize the attributed negative characteristics of others. To emphasize or invent strongly negative ideological meanings of the highest representatives of out-group members, Romney uses hyperbolic syntactic structures of superlative and the informal first naming of 'Chavez, Kim Jong-IL, Castro, Ahmadinejad ' to describe presidents of US adversaries (Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba and Iran). He implicitly says that it is inappropriate for the superior of 'the president of the United States of America' to even think about having a meeting with inferior presidents of these nations.
Actor and action description presupposes and forms specific mental models, for instance, in order to better understand, and explain actions, reasons, goals and outcomes of action. Describing a person merely as a member of a group or category, such as 'veteran', has a very different effect on the mental model than when it is described by a name, or a role to promote identification and empathy of in-group members, and hence the emotional dimension of mental models (Van Dijk, 1984a:112). See for instance the following actor description in a segment from Obama's speech:
4- 'You know, I was having lunch with some ' a veteran in Minnesota who had been a medic dealing with the most extreme circumstances. (OBM, L:1091-1093)
In this example, Obama refers to an in-group member by category rather than by name as positive self-representation to emphasize that he is part or sympathizer with veterans. Within an ideological perspective on Obama, U.S 'veterans' who participated in the America's invasions are civilized individuals who sacrifice to defend the nation in war deserve the highest military medals and the distinguished Medal of Honor, while the resistance fighters of US-invaded nations are stereotyped as terrorists.
Similarly, in this debate, there are many ways to describe actors, namely as a collective or institution, as anonymous, named or described, as personal or impersonal, as generic or specific, as individual persons or as members of a category, as an aggregate or collective and so on (Van Leeuwen, 1996:49).
Van Dijk, (1995b:154) finds, in his analysis to parliamentary debates on immigration, that ideological technique of compassion is used to 'show empathy or compassion for victims of the others' actions, so as to enhance the brutality of the Other'. The expressions of empathy may be largely untrue, and serve strategically to match the speaker's impression with the audience and welfare of some of the others, at the same time, invent, or enhance the savageness of the other. If an example is taken from Obama's speech, for instance 'what we are seeing taking place in Syria is heartbreaking' and that is why we are going to do everything we can to make sure that we are helping the opposition, L: 261-263', reveals that the aim of this move is to emphasize understanding for the position or interests of the others 'the opposition'. Therefore, the others are advised to act for their own good, whereas the real ideological background of such discursive moves is the interest of the speaker 'to remove Assad, L: 341'. That is, this semantic strategy again combines the positive self - presentation and negative other-presentation.
In this speech under analysis, firstly, we find that both presidential candidates use the expressions of empathy strategically not genuine when it comes to describe others, hence serve firstly, to manage the speaker's self-positive impression with the voters and to heighten the cruelty of the other. Secondly, to deny direct or indirect involvement of U.S and its allies in suffering and depress of others. Thirdly, to legitimize misusing of power that is exemplified by their interference in other nation's affairs in favor of their own in-group interests. The following are some examples:
5- Number three we do have to make sure that we're protecting religious minorities and women' (OBM, L:229-230)
In the above example, President Obama makes strategic use of a compassion move to revive ideological and racist differentiation and orientalist polarization between the West and the East societies: 'they are bad, and we are good'. If the in-group's self-represent themselves as modern, then the others are backward and violent and oppress religious minorities and women's rights, and if the in-groups highly value religious tolerance, multiculturalism, and women's freedom, the others are fundamentalists (Van Dijk, 1998a:16). The president hides and deemphasizes the reality that various ethnic minorities have often been targeted because of their race, ethnicity, and religion, especially Muslim communities under the counterterrorism legislations in America and Europe.
According to Lambert and Githens (2010:18), 'many Muslims face a greater cumulative threat of street violence than members of other minority communities and other fellow citizens.'
They go on in their research to document a disturbing number of reported and unreported hate crimes in which Muslim women wearing hijabs, niqabs or burkuas have been assaulted, abused verbally and physically. Attackers feel licensed to abuse, assault and intimidate Muslims in terms that mirror elements of the mainstream media and political comment that became commonplace during the last decade (Ibid: 19)
6- . I went to Yad Beshef (pH), the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable (OBM, L: 924-926)
In this example, the debater, Obama, brings up the tragic memory of the massacre; he invokes the audience's episodic memory in which personal, autobiographic, and subjective information is imprinted. The speaker's use of the agonizing terms and the allusion 'Holocaust' is indicative of this manner of representing events and others negatively. The purpose, of course, is to secure public consent to Israeli and U.S/Zionist crimes against humanity by implying their actions as legitimate 'defensive' or 'survival' tactics of even as they unleash another Holocaust against Muslim populations in Palestine or Lebanon . In other words, the powerful Zionist propaganda has been successful in developing an emotion driven sympathy by convincing the American public that Hitler's evil attempt to annihilate their race was the only major genocide in history, while other Western-style genocide, from that of Native Americans to Bosnia, is simply not mentioned. He also uses the Holocaust as a justification for oppressing others for what happened to the Jews in Europe. The Holocaust was an entirely Christian and European catastrophe in which the Arabs and Muslims played no part at all . The picture that emerges here entirely reverses the conventional orthodoxy about victims and victimizers.
7- First of all, 30,000 people being killed by their government is a humanitarian disaster. Secondly, Syria is an opportunity for us because Syria plays an important role in the Middle East, particularly right now. (ROM, L:274-277)
In above example as well, a general pattern of ideological positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation dominates. Romney, the Republican candidate, wants to prove his sense of kindness and condemn the brutality of the Syrian government by holding it responsible for causing humanitarian catastrophe to its own people. The speaker hides his nation involvement of Syrians' killing by U.S-backed fundamentalist mercenaries affiliated with Al Qaeda fighting in Syria. Romney skillfully combines humanitarian values and self-interest priority. He tries to convince the audience that there is a humanitarian emergency, which needs swift U.S 'humanitarian' military intervention in Syria and mitigates his own ideopolitical agendas. The United States seizes 'an opportunity' to intervene in Syria under the cover of a new 'our responsibility to protect' doctrine authorizing humanitarian intervention, while standing by the crumbling dictatorships elsewhere in the region. The U.S took side 'in the civil war and sectarian violence, unleashing a savage bombing campaign against the very people it was supposed to protect, reducing the capitals and surrounding cities to rubble' . However, crimes qualified as crimes if the enemy, not the U.S and its allies, carried them out.
The overall ideological strategies of positive self-presentation and negative other-presentation may also be applied to the local level of sentences and sentence sequences. In this way, one clause may express a proposition that realizes one strategy, and the next clause a proposition that realizes the other strategy. This is typically the case in the local semantic moves called disclaimers or apparent denial: 'I have nothing against blacks, but.. .'. The first clause emphasizes the tolerance of the speaker, whereas the rest of the sentence (and often also the rest of the text) following the 'but' may be very negative' (Van Dijk, 1998b: 39). In other words, the strategic use of disclaimers contributes to the overall strategy of positive self-description, or the avoidance of negative other-presentation, because 'the second term of these moves, introduced by, but, is always negative about the others' (Van Dijk, 1995a: 27).
This cognitive inconsistency is a reflection of sociocultural structures and processes of what is sometimes called modern or subtle form of racism, especially among the elite groups.This kind of racism is encoded, because it is easy to be denied by people who involved violently with acts of racism. (Van Dijk, 1984b: 26)
In the discourse under analysis, both candidates use another ideological meaning maneuver that instantiate within one sentence or sentences. These maneuvers are labeled 'apparent' disclaimers because the structure of their discourse serves to express, legitimate or indeed to conceal or deny such racist attitudes against the Middle Eastern peoples and nations. They seek to combine two opposed ideological aims, namely the humanitarian values of tolerance or fairness on the one hand, and the reasonableness values of practicality on the other (Van Dijk, 1992: 111). In other words, the humanitarian aims are confessed, but at the same time, they are rejected as being too perfectionistic and, therefore, 'impractical in the business of current world political management and decision-making' (ibid: 111), or because of challenging circumstances. The following are some examples:
8- There are people in Iran who have the same aspirations as people all around the world for a better life. And we hope that their leadership takes the right decision, but the deal we'll accept is they end their nuclear program (OBM, L: 820-822).
In the above segment of the debate, President Obama uses another move, this time disclaimer of apparent empathy. He focuses, in the first part of disclaimer located before the contrastive conjunction 'but', on his humanitarian sense and consideration that they have nothing against Iranian people who deserve the equal right of a better life.The positive part primarily seems to function as a form of face-keeping, impression management and deny responsibility of injustice and racism. On the other hand, the second part of this move, introduced by 'but', implies that such fundamental right 'for a better life' is rejected, since it is conditioned by Iran giving up its rights of getting peaceful nuclear technology guaranteed by the NPT. This move comes to justify and persuade Obama's continuing a collective punishment of US-most crippling sanctions in history against all Iranian people. It also implies illogically, that useful applications of peaceful nuclear techs, endorsed by most of the world, prevent Iranians aspirations 'for better life.' Therefore, the Iranian government is itself to be blamed. This is contradicting to the human sense in the first part of the segment.
9- With the Arab Spring, came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation, and opportunity for greater participation on the part of women in public life, and in economic life in the Middle East. But instead, we have seen in nation after nation, a number of disturbing events (ROM, L: 43-46).
Because of the more serious impact on a larger audience, as well as the possibility of professional or political damage that may be the result of a 'wrong' presentation of 'self', in the first part of the segment of the above example, the challenger Romney uses disclaimer of apparent empathy strategically to show a positive attitude of solidarity and good expectations of the Arab public uprisings to depict himself and his party as an advocate to democracy in the Middle East. On the other hand, he may want to hide that the U.S foreign policy has a long tradition of backing dictatorial regimes as long as they are able to control and oppress their own people.
However, when these public uprisings quaked or overthrew some of authoritarian U.S -backed regimes, the ruling class in the United States was reluctant or taken by surprise. The second part of this move, introduced by 'but,' the speaker indirectly attributes prejudiced attitudes to Arab revolutionaries by portraying them as terrorists whose main concerns are not living in civil society but targeting American innocent people. Hence, he intends to reinforce ideologically the racist elemental binary of Western modernity and Arab barbarity.
10- We recognize that there are places of conflict in the world. We want to end those conflicts to the extent humanly possible. But in order to be able to fulfill our role in the world, America must be strong. America must lead. And for that to happen, we have to strengthen our economy here at home (ROM, L: 460-464)
In the above example, Mitt Romney uses a disclaimer of apparent admission as semantic manipulative techniques. In the first part of this type of disclaimer, he apparently recognizes that there are conflicts need to be resettled as humanly as possible. In this segment, he tries sending many implicit messages as face-keeping and positive impression management: first, to avoid being labeled as a warmonger in front of an American public who are exhausted by a decade of U.S-wars launched, for example, on Afghanistan and Iraq. Secondly, to disguise U.S notorious role in invoking and supporting these conflicts directly or indirectly worldwide. He avoids mentioning U.S-backed Israeli aggressions sustained by U.S military and diplomatic support on sovereign Arab nations and U.S and Israel is blocking the international consensus on an Israel/Palestine agreement to reach to a regional peace settlement of the oldest conflict in recent history which has been prolonged for sixty-five years.
We will see in other segments of the debate under analysis how Romney contradicts with 'to the extent humanly possible' when he presents himself as a warlord who is eager to make Iranian people starving by more tightened sanctions and to launch a proxy war on the Syrian people by arming terrorist groups as well as the uses of drones to assassinate America's enemies.
However, in the second part of the disclaimer following contrastive conjunction 'but' implies that peace settlements to these conflicts are rejected as being too idealistic and unrealistic, because of the U.S economic recession. Romney's argument falsification can be refuted easily when we know that U.S-annual foreign aids to Israel are more than one hundred billion dollars over the past forty years.
11- ' I know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy, but every time you have offered an opinion, you've been wrong. You said we should have gone into Iraq, despite that fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction (OBM, L: 140-143).
This time, in the above example, Obama uses a disclaimer of apparent excuse, which is a semantic move that aims at avoiding a bad impression when saying negative things about one's political opponents. Obama expresses in the first part of this disclaimer deceptive justification of Romney's foreign policy ignorance. Obama skillfully attacks and derogates his political rival by hinting that Romney is reasonably inexperienced because he did not have the chance to practice practically foreign policy. In the second part of segment introduced by 'but' Obama gives an example of an inexpert Romney to imply that if Romney theorizes or executes foreign policy nowadays or in the future, it is going to be based on wrong assumptions and conclusions as he did in the past. Hence, he is disqualified and unreliable for the White House job.
Van Dijk (2006a:125) argues that political discourse is 'organized by discourse levels, such as those of global and local meanings, lexicon, syntax, rhetorical structures, and interactional structures' (i.e. by forms, meanings and actions). At each level, 'it may be found that implication and codification of underlying ideologies' (ibid:125), and this generally happens by de/emphasizing in many ways and strategies the negative/positive characteristics of the speaker's own group and the negative/positive characteristics of the out-group' (ibid:125).
Van Dijk (1997a:33) argues that what implicit meaning that can be found in the global (topical) and local (the concrete sentences in discourse) levels is obviously can be found in 'the meanings of words, and hence at the level of lexical choice and variation'. Indeed, most studies in 'political discourse' focus their analyses on the special words used in politics (ibid: 33). Lexical analysis is therefore the more obvious and productive component in the ideological discourse analysis. Simply, spelling out all implications of the words being used in a specific discourse and context often provides a vast array of underlying ideological meanings. Van Dijk (1998a:205) asserts a fact that 'substituting words with others immediately show the different semantic and often ideological ??effects' of such a substitution.' Hence, there is no doubt that in an important political president speech practically, each word that is chosen, has ideopolitical presupposition(s) and implication(s) functions.
Most of these semantic implications are, in our case, about U.S foreign policy with Iran, Iraq, Syria, and all the Middle East. That is, they are inferred from the topics talked about as well as from the general political, historical, and contextual knowledge we have about these nations, terrorism, threat, nuclear issues, international policy, Iraq, and so on. Much of the understanding of the speeches in this debate involves the production of these semantic inferences, some of which quite general, others are more personal and variable.
The use of the political plural we (or possessive our) by both presidential candidates serves many functions and has many implications. It denotes political polarization between 'us' vs. 'them' and the speaker's alliances, solidarity, and socio-political position, depending on the immediate contextual construction of the related in-group: we (American citizens), we (Democrats or Republicans), we (in the government), or indeed we (the president). Moreover, in the debate under analysis, the researcher is going to find how pronouns, words, sentences, or propositions may have different types of implicitness and indirectness. In other words, information that may be inferred by language users from their previous knowledge and beliefs is combined with information actually expressed in the text. The following are some examples:
12- First of all, Israel is a true friend. It is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel. I've made that clear throughout my presidency (OBM, L: 745-747).
In the above example, President Obama depicts the U.S-Israel ties by plural possessive pronoun 'our' to imply Democrats and Republicans' consensus on their alliances and loyalty to Israel. The use of the modifier 'true' and the superlative structure 'greatest' imply that the degree of U.S-alliance with some of the Middle Eastern nations is not equal but graded. The speaker's use of the syntactic structure of the conditional if - clause in the present tense of the verb 'attacked,' infers that Israel is represented as a victim of possibility and consistency of Iranian nuclear threat. Hence, U.S support for Israeli long record of violence, aggression, and lawlessness are implied as legitimate 'defensive' actions. It would then be used by Washington to justify, in the eyes of the World opinion, a military intervention of the US with a view to 'defending Israel,' rather than attacking Iran. Obama inverts manipulatively and ideologically in-group aggressor as a victim and out-group victim as a threat and assailant.
13- We need to make sure as well that we coordinate this effort with our allies, and particularly with Israel. But the Saudi's and the Qatari, and the Turks are all very concerned about this. They're willing to work with us. We need to have a very effective leadership effort in Syria, making sure that the insurgent there are armed and that the insurgents that become armed, are people who will be the responsible parties' But I believe -- we want to make sure that we have the relationships of friendship with the people that take his place (ROM, L: 294-297).
In any analysis of political discourse, the issues of identity and ideology are crucial to understanding the political actors, as their performance is defined and perceived according to social identity (Fairclough 2000: 95). In the above example, Romney unifies both identity and ideology by the use of the inclusive political plural 'we' or possessive 'our', by which, the speaker implies that all in-group parties are allies who have the same identity and united ideology of applying war agenda on Syria through collaborative efforts. Applying the ideological square, the speaker conceals political facts or conditions by means of leaving information implicit in order to deemphasize or exclude in-groups negative practices. One of the concealed facts is the use of the verb 'coordinate' to imply that each ally has to accomplish a different part of the common task of fighting the Syrian government through training, financing and arming of foreign mercenaries of what is alleged to be 'Islamists' such as Al- Qaeda affiliated organization, namely, Al-Nusrah Front, which are on the U.S State Department list of terrorist organizations. The ideological reason behind the use of contrastive conjunction 'but' and distancing third-person pronouns 'they' when he refers to U.S important allies, 'Saudis, the Qatari, and the Turks' is to imply that these nations are half or unreliable allies, therefore deemphasize U.S support or their counterrevolution policies and their poor human rights records. The speaker explicitly describes groups, that he insists on arming, as 'insurgents' (i.e. terrorists).
These two terms are used interchangeably within 'U.S-led global war on terror' such as 'counterterrorism' or, 'counterinsurgency'. The noun phrase 'the people' is used euphemistically to avoid expressing 'have the relationships of friendship with the insurgents.' This implies that not only U.S and its allies' support terrorist groups in Syria but also Romney's confirmation for new alliance and friendships with 'responsible parties' of insurgents, regardless of their genocidal massacres in Syria and Iraq against innocent people. These inequalities have been determined by whether a particular terrorist group was a United States client or an enemy. The researcher finds, and according to the 2001 U.S Patriot Act, persons, organizations, and nations, which support or abet terrorist groups are considered as ??terrorists' or, 'state-sponsors of terrorism'. Therefore, and according to the United States' law, U.S and its allies are state-sponsors of terrorism.
14- And we are making sure that those we help are those who will be friends of ours in the long term and friends of our allies in the region over the long term (OBM, L: 312-315).
In comparison with analysis of example number (13), President Obama shares Romney 'identical perspective on Syria, but with more diplomatic euphemistic language. Obama's use of the verb 'help' implies euphemistically arming a selection of rebel units in Syria, which are part of Al Qaeda network. The speaker' use of 'long term' implies a revival of U.S and its allies to the long history of strategic alliance with extremist groups in the region since the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1980s. This would lead us to infer that the US government is in blatant violation of international law and its own counterterrorism legislation. In addition, the propaganda and media disinformation behind the 'Global War on Terrorism' campaign has also entered a dead end alley.
15- ' And I want to make sure they get armed and they have the arms necessary to defend themselves, but also to remove Assad (ROM, L: 340-341).
In the above example, depending on context and political knowledge, challenger Romney's racist speech reveals that his attitude is within the overall strategy of ideological square; emphasizing in-group's good things and out-group's bad things, and de-emphasizing (mitigates, hides,) in-group's bad things and out-group's good things. The speaker' use of 'necessary to defend' implies that these foreign terrorist fighters are victims who are in urgent need to and only to vital and indispensable shipments of weapons since they are in a defensive position against government aggressive attacks.
According to international and U.S law, the Pentagon cannot provide arms to a country except for a national military and for defensive purposes. Romney's use of the verb 'to remove' implies that the underlying intention of arming rebels is to attack and change you. S-undesired regime in Syria. This manipulative implication comes to convince the audience that the supply of U.S sophisticated weapons to the paramilitary groups in Syria is legitimate under U.S law.
16- ' And we have to do so making absolutely certain that we know who we are helping; that we are not putting arms in the hands of folks who eventually could turn them against us or allies in the region. (OBM, L:264-267)
In the above segment, President Obama uses the verbal phrase 'we know' to imply that the speaker's propositional attitude of 'U.S arming process is exclusively the focus on U.S partners in Syria and is based on absolute certainty shared by all participants of the debate. Politically speaking, this is important, because obviously no decisions or policy can be based on ignorance or doubts, so nobody allows being skeptical. Ideologically, this is more important, because it comes to emphasize or invent positive self-representation. The use of 'folks' comes as emphasizing negative other- representation to imply that the Syrian nationalist groups should be kept armless, since they represent deterrent to the imperialist nature of U.S and Israel.
17- ' In the 2000 debates, there was no mention of terrorism, for instance. And a year later, 9/11 happened. So, we have to make decisions based upon uncertainty, and that means a strong military. I will not cut our military budget. We have to also stand by our allies (ROM, L: 472-475).
As we have mentioned in the analysis of the example (16) that no decisions or policy can be based on ignorance or doubts. In the above example, Romney shows that the republicans or maybe the American policy is run differently. Romney's use of noun 'uncertainty' implies that U.S domestic and foreign policies are based on prejudice, skepticism, and phobia. For instance, the possess of weapons of mass destruction stockpiles, aided Al Qaeda had been used as a pretext for launching America's second war on Iraq on March 2003.The reasons given thus far have all been discredited. No weapons of mass destruction have been found. No ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda have been established. No threats to US security existed (Petras, 2006:26). The underlying motives of these 'uncertainties' are to legitimates unprecedented military occupation and wage unprovoked endless wars, hence preserve the United States' ideological, economic, and military dominance and superiority in the world.
18- 'there's no doubt that attitudes about Americans have changed. But there're always going to be elements in these countries that potentially threaten the United States. And we want to shrink those groups and those networks and we can do that. The truth, though, is that Al Qaeda is much weaker than it was when I came into office. And they do not have the same capacities to attack the U.S homeland and our allies as they did four years ago (OBM, L: 1175-1183).
In the above example, Obama's description of Al Qaeda as 'much weaker', do not have the same capacities comes to mitigate that Al Qaeda has regrouped and grown stronger in the Middle East. This implies that Obama's administration is not concerned with Al Qaeda's genocidal campaign against U.S opponent nation such Syria, Iran and Lebanon and an unreliable ally such as Iraq. Moreover, this comes to imply that Al Qaeda does not pose a threat to the U.S homeland security and its true allies any more as long as Al Qaeda (in Syria and Libya) has 'changed its attitude about America'. Hence, counterterrorism efforts are not directed against real terrorism, for instance, Al Qaeda and its affiliated groups, but against nationalists and resistance elements who oppose American and Israeli imperialism and domination appetite. To eliminate such 'potentially threat', these elements are portrayed and derogated as terrorists to be included within U.S war on terror.
184.108.40.206.5 National self-Glorification
Presidential debates represent a good opportunity of nationalistic rhetoric. This is particularly true when a speaker intensifies glorifying his own country's norms and values, such as democracy, equal rights, hospitality, and tolerance to create positive self-representation. For instance, (U.S is the greatest nation on the earth), whereas negative information about his nation (colonialism, racism) used to be ignored or mitigated, (Van Dijk, 1992:109). In other words and more technically, the positive self-representation is sustained through the above mentioned ideological strategy, which is a semantic technique mostly remarked in patriotic rhetoric.
In this debate, both presidential contestants emphasize their patriotic sense highlighted by the use of the ideonationalistic rhetorical move of 'National self-glorification'
The focal point of propaganda, in presidential debates, is candidates' adopting points of view or slogans on which all people agree and touch their minds and hearts such as democracy, freedom, prosperity, security etc. The goal is to force the audience and undecided- voters into falling in line within prescribed ideological groups, so that the public ideopolitically mobilized when they feel proud of their nation and focus on glorious and national attitudes and contributions rather than on its imperialistic records and slavery. This abusive propaganda is subversive of the very idea of patriotism, democracy, and peace. Apart from denying, mitigating, or move away one's discrepancies, we are going to see in the following examples that straightforward self-glorification is the standard form of positive self-presentation:
19- ' Well, I absolutely believe that America has a responsibility, and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that make the world more peaceful. (ROM, L: 454-456).
In the above example, that overt form of self-glorification is the typical form of positive self-presentation and covert negative other- representation. This means, according to the speaker, that U.S civilized principles will always be antagonized with backward enemies. 'We' in the U.S are associated with positive values 'peace, responsibility', positive goals 'that make the world more peaceful', and positive activities 'helping defend freedom and promote the principles'. On the other hand, the others (Arabs, Muslim World and Third World nations) are dictators and extremists. Under the noble doctrine of boosting democracy and freedom in the world, Romney uses skillful fabricated propaganda to manipulate public opinions and justify aggressions.
20- ' I will fight for your families and I will work every single day to make sure that America continues to be the greatest nation on earth (OBM, L: 1499-1500).
In the above example, Obama's lexical choice of the strong verb 'fight' actively praises himself as nationalist worrier who struggle for U.S domestic and foreign issues.Obama's national glorifications are intensified by the hyperbolic expression of 'every single day' and the use of superlative syntactic structure 'the greatest'. Moreover, Obama's patriotic feelings are highlighted where 'America' is referred. 'Self-glorification' is a mitigated form of ideological 'self-superiority and arrogance ' to interfere with any part of the world to suit U.S imperialist interests.
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