A burkean analysis of the 2010 ukrainian presidential election


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A burkean analysis of the 2010 ukrainian presidential election

  1. 1. 1 Borderland: A Burkean Analysis of the 2010 Ukrainian Presidential Election Thomas McCloskey March, 2012 To a casual observer, the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election appeared to be a mismatch.The Party of Regions’ Viktor Yanykovich, a bear of a man with a history of embarrassingpolitical losses and lingering scandals, and an inability to articulate or defend his positions, faced“Ukraine’s Joan of Arc,” peasant-braided prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a fiery orator withher own political party railing against corrupt oligarchs (Byrne 1). Throughout the campaign,Tymoshenko’s massive rallies were populist concerts complete with fireworks and celebritieswhile Yanykovich, whose “limitations as a public speaker” were widely known, stuck mostly tosmaller events where he retreated to his unoriginal and dull anti-incumbent stump speech(Chalupa). In every rhetorical respect Tymoshenko appeared poised to score an impressive winin the January runoff vote. However, Yanykovich earned a surprising victory, which may callstandard assessments of rhetorical effectiveness into question. Tymoshenko and Yanykovich’s construction of their presidential images highlights thelimitations of rhetorical strategies. On the one hand, Tymoshenko was clearly the more talentedrhetorician. Her effective speaking style made Yanykovich look unpersuasive and boring. On theother hand, when saddled with overarching social problems like a limp economy as Tymoshenkowas—Ukraine’s economy shrunk by 15% in 2009 (Way 1)—even the most persuasive politicianfaces tremendous obstacles during a campaign. Although Yanykovich and Tymoshenko were notnew to Ukrainian politics, the rhetorical strategies the candidates utilized in creating theirpresidential image were groundbreaking for a Ukrainian election and justify rhetorical analysis.The candidates had much help from American political consultants. Tymoshenko’s campaign
  2. 2. 2was organized by president Obama’s 2008 campaign manager David Axelrod’s former firmASGK Public Strategies while Yanykovich’s deferred to his advisor since 2005, Paul J.Manafort, whose business partner led John McCain’s 2008 presidential run. With the help ofadvisors, the candidates worked tirelessly to create their own distinct rhetorical image (Levy,“Ukraine Raises the Pressure,” 2). The communication strategies that were employed by eachcandidate will be remembered in years to come. Tymoshenko’s fiery, impassioned rhetoricestablished her image as a Ukrainian nationalist, complete with her circular “peasant braid” ofstriking blonde hair. Her rhetorical goal was to gain all the benefits of her prime ministerialincumbency without being associated with the electorate’s frustration with the Yushenko regime,particularly on economic issues. Tymoshenko’s presidential image was of animated, articulate,aggressive presidential leadership. Conversely, “Yanykovich acknowledged that he was pursuinga classic anti-incumbent strategy” (Levy, “Ukraine Raises the Pressure on Opposition Leaders”2), staying “on message” that is, orange-bashing. As Manafort explained, “Despite the greatexpectations from the orange campaign promises of five years ago, the world and the people ofUkraine see that Tymoshenko has failed” (Levy, “Toppled in Ukraine but Nearing a Comeback,”2). Yanykovich kept his speeches short and focused on how the economy was crumbling andarguing that Tymoshenko was to blame. Yanykovich’s presidential image was, simply put, notbeing Tymoshenko—an alternative to the very bad economic circumstances he hoped would beassociated with his opponent in the minds of the electorate. While not exactly a second orange revolution, the 2010 election was just as significant interms of Ukraine’s direction and place in the world. Even more than in 2004, the two candidateswere rhetorically distinct and enacted specific communicative strategies to win the election. Tounderstand Yanykovich’s victory and Tymoshenko’s near-win despite politically
  3. 3. 3disadvantageous circumstances requires a careful analysis of the rhetoric of the campaign.Determining how these images were rhetorically constructed can explain why Yanykovich wasable defeat a much more articulate and charismatic opponent. Thus, the purpose of this paper isto de-construct the ways in which Yanykovich and Tymoshenko rhetorically manufactured theirpresidential images before the 2010 election and explain Viktor Yanykovich’s surprising victory. This paper begins with an analysis of Kenneth Burke’s representative anecdote asadapted by Barry Brummet as a method of media criticism. Next, this paper examines thenarratives of both candidates in addition to a specific event from the campaign, the “non”presidential debate in which Yanykovich refused to participate, through Burke’s anecdotalmethodology. Finally, the paper highlights the rhetorical strategies employed and determine whyand how Yanykovich won the election from a rhetorical perspective. Brummet’s Adaptation of Burke’s Representative Anecdote: A Methodology Given the expansive nature of rhetoric worthy of examination, critics require a method ofspecifying communication artifacts that reflect the complex nature of the texts themselves whileallowing for substantive study. Rhetorical analysis requires critics to make what Burke callsreductions of reality that condense a complex text into meaningful vocabularies that will reflectthe essence of the given artifact. Burke’s representative anecdote allows for greater analysis of aspecific event during a campaign that therefore lends itself to more accurate discussion of imageconstruction. However, Barry Brummett’s adaptation outlining how to use the representativeanecdote as a method for media criticism offers a unique extension of Burke’s work. UsingBurke’s representative anecdote as a methodology for media criticism, as explained byBrummett, has three specific steps: (1) identifying the plot within the anecdote by synthesizingthe discourses that construct it, (2) determining what the rhetorical exigencies and problems are
  4. 4. 4that the anecdote reflects, and (3) examining what the anecdote’s suggested solutions to theseproblems are. Brummett suggests that this construction can explain a narrative and determine if itis truly representative of an anecdote’s discourse. In sum, critics construct the most thoroughrepresentative anecdote possible and then determine what problems and solutions it suggests. ANALYSIS Brummett’s extension of Burke’s representative anecdote relies on three specificmethodological tenets: (1) identifying the plot inherent within the anecdote, (2) highlighting therhetorical exigencies and social structures and problems the anecdote emphasizes, and (3)determining what the anecdote’s proposed solutions are for the problems it outlines. This sectionwill apply Brummett’s methodology to the non-debate between the two presidential hopefuls. Byviewing the candidates’ individual anecdotes in this context, this analysis will be able toconstruct the ways in which those narratives clashed with each other and changed during aspecific rhetorical event in the anecdote of the non-debate.The Non-Debate Narrative Anecdote The Ukrainian constitution mandates that the two main candidates have at least onetelevised debate before any national election. Ignoring this mandate, Yanykovich chose to skipthe February 1, 2010, event and give his standard stump speech discussed earlier to newscameras at his campaign headquarters. This left Tymoshenko all alone across from an emptylectern, free to criticize her opponent for the entire televised hour. The anecdote of this non-debate, constructed through a dialectic exchange of candidate speeches and statements in themedia before, during, and after the incident, can be summarized as follows: Yanykovich andTymoshenko’s hostile and polarizing rhetoric during the campaign made compromise,identification and communication with the other side in this setting impossible. Electoral victory
  5. 5. 5was the only acceptable outcome for either candidate. The extension of the vitriolic rhetoric fromboth candidates during the campaign to their dialogue surrounding the non-debate was to beexpected. This narrative reflects the deeper structures of the context in which it took place, and isreflected in several rhetorical texts. In the case of the non-debate, Brummett’s rhetorical problems reflect the anecdotes ofboth candidates and present a layered, multi-faceted exchange rather than a single narrativecommunicated by one individual. Rather than viewing the perspectives of Yanykovich andTymoshenko as independent narratives, the campaign’s rhetoric in the non-debate contextdemonstrates how these two anecdotes interact with and influence each other. The twocandidates in the 2010 election did not campaign in a rhetorical vacuum in which Tymoshenkoand Yanykovich simply presented their ideas and let the voters sort out who was right; they notonly presented their narratives, but repeatedly and aggressively attacked those of their opponentwhile defending their own perspectives from similar assaults. Their rhetoric evolved to adialectical tension between each other, voters, and the social and political context in which ittook place. Viewing Tymoshenko’s and Yanykovich’s anecdotes independently from this multi-faceted perspective ignores these vital narrative components. Viewing the non-debate as arepresentative anecdote offers a view of Tymoshenko’s and Yanykovich’s narratives in conflictand provides insight into the deeper structures their perspectives present in this unique setting. Events and real-world realities shape rhetoric and influence communication decisionsduring political campaigns. Narratives, and how those anecdotes are presented to voters, aresignificantly influenced by the ever-changing political landscape as these deeper structures andrhetorical problems Brummett highlights evolve. If Yanykovich was not aware of this realitythen his advisors certainly were, because the Party of Region’s candidate could only lose ground
  6. 6. 6by debating Tymoshenko. An overview of the political landscape before the non-debateillustrates this fact. Ukraine remains extremely divided for several reasons, though there is stillroom for issues to influence the results of a given election. First, Ukraine’s central oblasts,Cherkassy, Poltava and Kirovograd, act as “swing” regions and vary between the major politicalparties in any given election in much the same way that Ohio, Colorado and Florida frequentlyalternate in American politics. These vital regions represent the literal and figurative middleground for Ukrainian elections and voters in these oblasts are highly influenced by major issuessuch as the economy. In the 2010 race, Yanykovich did much better than expected in all three“swing” regions. Second, the actual number of voters can vary significantly in a given electionand influence their results. In other words, Yanykovich does not need the citizens of the westernstronghold Lviv oblast to vote for him in order to win; he just needs a substantial percentage ofthose voters to stay home instead of voting for Tymoshenko, or no one at all. Voter turnout in the2010 election was the lowest in over 10 years, and 4.4% of voters—a majority of whom werefrom western regions—chose the “against all” option on the ballot, indicating that issues such asthe economy kept many Tymoshenko supporters home on election day (Halpin 4). In sum,despite ever-increasing polarization of political discourse, many Ukrainian voters are nonethelessinfluenced by issues, the most significant of which in 2010 was the falling economy, an issuewhich Yanykovich was politically ahead on. This reality meant that if nothing changed beforethe election, Yanykovich would win, a fact that influenced his rhetorical decision not to debateTymoshenko. Yanykovich’s rhetorical problem in the context of the non-debate was political self-preservation. While his campaign anecdote was about the economy and related to all Ukrainians,his debate narrative was about him winning the election and related only directly to himself and
  7. 7. 7his supporters. This represents a rhetorical shift from social issues towards more deliberatestrategic maneuvering. Because Yanykovich correctly believed he had a winning narrative aboutthe economy in place, anything that might disrupt that anecdote in the minds of voters waspolitically dangerous for him. Any change in these conditions could therefore only hurt the front-running, leading candidate, meaning that participating in a debate with Tymoshenko on livetelevision was a no-win scenario for Yanykovich. If he had debated his opponent, the fiery oratorTymoshenko, she might have been able to sway some voters into thinking that the economictailspin Ukraine found itself in was actually the fault of Yanykovich’s obstructionist policies inParliament, or worse, that the economy was not the most important issue for Ukrainians toconsider when going to the polls. The only alternative for Yanykovich which guaranteed arelatively low-risk, positive result, was not to debate at all. Aware that he could only lose groundby debating Tymoshenko—and that he likely would sink in the polls if he stood at a podium andlet his rhetorically skilled opponent call him a thief, liar and rapist for an hour on television—Yanykovich decided not to show up to the debate at all and went into spin-control mode. Severalrhetorical texts reflect this strategy. Claiming that such communication skills are silly and unnecessary to lead a country,Yanykovich implied that Tymoshenko’s rhetorical abilities were a vice and not a virtue in hisresponse to a reporter’s question about why he refused to debate his opponent: “I wasn’t trainedas an artist. Therefore competing with Tymoshenko in this profession is something I won’t do.As a matter of principle. It’s not my profession” (Yanykovich, “I Wasn’t Trained As An Artist”2). In other words, Yanykovich implied that his opponent’s enthusiasm for debating made her anout-of-touch artist and sophist who could not relate to the normal, hard-working Ukrainianswhom he represented. This rhetoric represents Yanykovich’s effort to shift the discussion back
  8. 8. 8towards the issue that he was ahead on—the economy. Before the debate, Yanykovich’srepresentatives were less delicate in addressing their candidate’s refusal to participate. In anotherrhetorical text, “Hanna Herman, deputy head of Yanykovich’s Party of Regions, explained whyher boss will not debate on live television. ‘Tymoshenko is a liar,’ Herman said. ‘It would be awaste of time to debate anything with her in public’” (Byrne 2). Given the extremely hostilerhetoric characterizing the campaign to that point, Yanykovich could get away with simpleinsults aimed at his opponent since those who agreed with his assessment of Tymoshenko wouldagree with him and those who backed Tymoshenko would not vote for him anyway. Thealarmingly hostile discourse characterizing the campaigns of both candidates discussed inchapter two pushed the electorate to extremes. Consequently, the campaign’s rhetoric created anexigence in which it was acceptable for Yanykovich to not show up for a legally-mandatedtelevised debate. In response to Yanykovich’s decision to not engage her in a public setting, Tymoshenkowas presented with a distinct rhetorical problem that mirrored her opponents’ issue: threatenedpolitical survival. Although Tymoshenko’s narrative was the same in this context as it wasthroughout the campaign—nationalism should come first and Yanykovich is an inarticulatecoward—her rhetorical problem shifted from highlighting Ukraine’s national identity crisis tokeeping her political hopes alive. Tymoshenko likely knew the importance of televised debatesin which candidates can educate the electorate, illuminate their (and their opponents’) positions,clarify issues, force dialogue on difficult social problems and offer voters a more honest look atthemselves and the campaign in general. For these reasons, political debates are a potentrepresentation of candidates and their rhetoric, more so than any other single event during acampaign. In addition to these realities, Tymoshenko is a much more skilled public speaker than
  9. 9. 9Yanykovich, so the ground she stood to gain in the polls had the debate taken place waspresumably substantial. When Yanykovich did not show up for the debate, Tymoshenko’srhetoric needed to respond to this changing political reality. With her opponent a no-show for the debate, Tymoshenko could have made the rhetoricalchoice to not show up, and hold a press conference or rally at which she could again attack heropponent. However, she instead made the strategic decision to attend the non-debate and letYanykovich’s podium stand empty in the hope that it would serve as a visual example of her“Yanykovich is a coward” rhetoric akin to how the reconstitutive discourse of her hair and attireconveys her Ukrainian nationalism. While her nationalist campaign anecdote was directed at theentire country, her shifting rhetorical problem of political self-preservation for the non-debateanecdote focused on herself and her supporters, in much the same way Yanykovich’s did.Tymoshenko’s choice to attend the non-debate and rail against her opponent for an hour ontelevision provides a rhetorical text demonstrating her adaptation to the changing politicalcontext of the campaign. Moreover, in a series of speeches and press releases also serving asrhetorical texts, she echoed her sentiments from a previous primary debate in which Yanykovichalso refused to participate, saying that “Viktor Yanykovich is truly afraid of open discussion”(Tymoshenko, “About last night’s show” 1) and that his lack of involvement is “both sad andfunny” (Tymoshenko, “Open letter” 2). In her open letter to Yanykovich released the followingday that serves as a text for this exigence, Tymoshenko attacked her opponent for his lack ofparticipation in the debate, calling him a coward. The ad homonym insults from Tymoshenkowere nothing new, and reflect the same anecdote that she had been communicating to votersthroughout the campaign about Yanykovich’s cowardice and inability to lead Ukraine. However,while her narrative remained the same, her rhetorical problem in the non-debate anecdote is
  10. 10. 10unique. While the previous anecdote reflected a problem of Ukraine’s national identity crisis,these texts convey a sense of political desperation on the part of the Tymoshenko campaign.Every major poll showed that Yanykovich had a small but decisive lead during the days beforethe election, and the non-debate represented the last major chance for Tymoshenko to gainground on her opponent. This reality did not escape Tymoshenko, and her rhetorical problem inthis instance was that she knew her odds of victory were quickly dwindling. The persuasivenessof Tymoshenko’s nationalist narrative depends on her ability to use that anecdote to attack heropponent with it and communicate that discourse to voters, two things Yanykovich denied her byrefusing to debate. Although the narratives for both candidates remained the same in the context of the non-debate, with Tymoshenko still beating the nationalist drum and insulting her opponent andYanykovich staying on his economic message, this analysis demonstrates that the rhetoricalproblems behind these discourses shifted towards a need for political survival for each candidate.The success of his economic narrative influenced Yanykovich’s rhetoric and actions byconvincing him to not show up to debate his opponent and instead attack her in the same ways hehad been, which in turn influenced Tymoshenko to go to the debate anyway and insult him ontelevision hoping to make up some ground in the polls. When determining what solutions are present in an anecdote for the problems it outlines,Brummett explains that such rhetorical remedies are essentially the completion of the discourse.Just as the anecdote highlights real-life problems facing the audience, the solutions provide theagents with the “symbolic resources to face their real situations” (Brummett 164). In providingpotential solutions to these problems, the anecdote offers the audience a genuine sense of hope tocombat such issues and, as previously described by Brummett, “equips a culture for living in that
  11. 11. 11situation” (164). The rhetorical solutions presented by the anecdote do not necessarily have to beexpressly outlined in the discourse; instead, these solutions are frequently implied by theproblems presented and emerge as the natural response to such dilemmas. Therefore, thesolutions should respond to the overarching problems in the rhetoric. For the non-debateanecdote, these solutions are complicated. While the rhetorical problems presented during thecampaign referred to Ukrainian society in general in relation to poverty and a cultural identitycrisis, the problems present in the non-debate anecdote relate only to Yanykovich, Tymoshenko,and their supporters, and are concerned only with the political survival of individual candidates.Given the zero-sum nature of elections—there can only be one winner—it is rhetorically difficultto find solutions to these dilemmas for the two candidates in the non-debate narrative, especiallygiven the exceedingly hostile and vitriolic rhetoric they used against each other during thecampaign. In other words, Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yanykovich will probably never getalong. Despite this reality, there is rhetorical hope in bridging the polarizing divides left byYanykovich’s and Tymoshenko’s campaigns for their supporters. The non-debate anecdotesuggests several rhetorical solutions. The polarized Ukrainian citizenry cannot, for the most part, relate to the other side.Ukraine’s eastern and western regions have distinct ethnicities, religions, cultures and values,and in political discourse these differences typically manifest themselves in the aggressive,personal attacks that characterized the 2010 campaign, and in the lack of discourse characterizingthe non-debate anecdote. Yanykovich’s unwillingness to debate Tymoshenko on televisionreflects this cultural bifurcation. Despite having a great deal in common with each other, mostUkrainians refuse to identify with the cross-country counterparts and neither do their politicalleaders. Yanykovich and Tymoshenko typify this lack of identification by refusing to engage
  12. 12. 12each other in any kind of discourse. During the 2010 campaign these candidates instead framedthe discussion as a winner-take-all political exchange where one culture will win and the otherwill be invalidated, making dialogue and compromise impossible, as exemplified by the non-debate. Relying on Burke, Brummett highlights how consubstantiation allows for identificationwith others without sacrificing personal identity in the process. This consubstantiation is theapparent solution this discourse suggests for the problem of Ukraine’s national identity crisis ofTymoshenko’s anecdote and for the lack of discourse in the non-debate narrative. The questionremains, what can supporters of political and cultural rivals Yanykovich and Tymoshenko find tobe consubstantial about? The non-debate anecdote suggests two specific rhetorical alternatives. The first consubstantial solution suggested by the anecdote for eastern and westernUkrainians to bond over is their mutual dislike of both Yanykovich and Tymoshenko. Some4.4% of voters in the 2010 election chose the “against all” option on the ballot, meaning thatover one million people went to the polls in freezing February temperatures, did not like any ofthe options, and voted for no one in protest of the two major candidates. Pravda characterizedthe election as “rape v. robbery,” a sentiment that many Ukrainians clearly agreed with asreflected in the number of protest votes. The 2010 election marked the seventh consecutive yearthat Yanykovich and Tymoshenko had played central roles in national politics and most of thattime was defined by squabbling, corruption and negative attacks on each other, along with anunwillingness to work together or even talk about any issue which was represented in the non-debate. As the high number of protest votes suggest, the Ukrainian people are likely tired of themboth, and this shared dislike of each candidate represents a place for consubstantiation. Thisagreement between eastern and western Ukrainians that the country needs a change fromTymoshenko and Yanykovich is one solution to the problem of the national identity crisis
  13. 13. 13suggested by the anecdote. Moreover, if moderate and respected politicians like Serhiy Tigipko,Yuriy Lutsenko—who was jailed in February, 2011, on trumped up charges by presidentYanykovich (Levy, Toppled in Ukraine but Nearing a Comeback,” 2)—and Arseney Yatsenyukcapitalize on this consubstantial frustration with business as usual, as exemplified by the non-debate, there is room for a fundamental change in Ukrainian political leadership. While the firstavenue for consubstantiation focuses on the agents involved in the discourse of the non-debateanecdote, the second shared identification suggested by this narrative is on the content of therhetoric involved. Despite frequent disagreements, the one thing Ukrainians could agree on before the 2010elections, from western Lviv to eastern Luhansk, was that the economy was terrible. This sharedfrustration with high unemployment, rising prices, and a devalued currency represents the secondoption suggested by the non-debate anecdote for a consubstantial solution. As previouslydiscussed, in 2010, Ukraine was enduring a severe economic downturn. Burke describesconsubstantiality as “commonality of substance. That is, we have in common certain substancesincluding physical embodiment [and] common aspirations” (Herrick 234). The aspirations ofworking class Ukrainians are fairly universal across all of the country’s geographic regions: agood job, cheap gas and lower food prices, a viable health care system that can take care of theirchildren if they get sick and some entertaining singers on channel four’s Eurovision every night.By focusing on these shared aspirations and overarching concerns, almost all of which areeconomically-oriented, consubstantiality becomes a viable solution to the problem of Ukraine’sidentity crisis, the propagation of which was partially responsible for the non-debate anecdote. Inother words, “[b]y recognizing and building on our consubstantiality, identification amongpeople—and thus healing from the wound of our separation—becomes a rhetorical possibility”
  14. 14. 14(Herrick 234). This consubstantial solution suggests that the focus for Ukrainian voters should beon actual issues over polarizing rhetoric. Instead of allowing politicians to distract them withpersonal attacks, gendered language, and a general refusal to engage the other side in substantivedebate (as the non-debate anecdote exemplifies), the electorate should vote for the candidateswho they believe best address the problems affecting the lives of the people. This secondconsubstantial strategy of focusing entirely on germane issues would prevent politicians likeTymoshenko and Yanykovich from using populist, personal, polarizing rhetoric to divideuniformly poor people whose only difference is on which side of the Dnipro River they wereborn. For candidates, this consubstantial solution suggests a focus on issues in the form ofdirect discussion instead of on the attacking of political opponents that the non-debate anecdotehighlights. In Ukraine such a shift in rhetoric would represent a fundamental change in thepolitical discourse; the tone of election campaigns would naturally become more civil and debatewould increase. In other words, if candidates are focusing entirely on the actual issues affectingthe lives of voters in reasoned, public dialogues, there would be less room for personal attacks onthe opposition. Given the increasing collective disgust with the polarizing rhetorical strategies ofboth Yanykovich and Tymoshenko, such a focus on actual issues and open discussion wouldlikely create increased civil involvement and democratic participation among the electorate.During the 2010 campaign, each candidate seemed more concerned with using the collapsingeconomy as a tool to slam their opponent than with actually addressing such problems, and thenon-debate reflects this situation. By focusing on what consubstantiality can be found to unitevoters instead of searching for any lack of identification that divides Ukrainians, candidateswould likely be pleasantly surprised by the results.
  15. 15. 15 IMPLICATIONS The purpose of this thesis offered in chapter 1 was to analyze the ways in whichYanykovich and Tymoshenko rhetorically manufactured their presidential images before the2010 election and in the process explain Viktor Yanykovich’s surprising victory from arhetorical perspective. The answer is as complicated as Ukrainian identity. On the surface, theanswer is simple: Yanykovich won the election over Tymoshenko because his representativeanecdote was more persuasive for voters. To casual observers of Ukraine’s political andeconomic landscape, it would appear that campaigning as an incumbent in 2010 would presentnearly impossible problems for any campaign. The sitting prime minister, Tymoshenko, had nochance of getting elected president because of the economy and frustration with her orangerevolution team’s inability to pass promised reforms. Two general conclusions can be drawn about Tymoshenko’s rhetorical strategies. First,had she not committed to her candidate-driven nationalist approach, she might have lost theelection by a much wider margin. Second, had Tymoshenko been able to campaign as theopposition and been on the “right side” of the economic issues facing Ukraine, she could havebeaten Yanykovich in an electoral landslide. Despite being limited in terms of rhetoricalstrategies, this analysis indicates that the candidate-driven model of image construction can beextremely persuasive for many voters. Yanykovich’s rhetorical tactics, although similarlylimited, were also persuasive. This paper examined the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election between ViktorYanykovich and Yulia Tymoshenko through the lens of the presidential imaging strategies usedand the narratives that the candidates constructed. After outlining Barry Brummett’s
  16. 16. 16representative anecdote methodology, this paper examined the anecdotes of both Yanykovichand Tymoshenko as well as that of a single rhetorical event from the campaign, the non-debate inwhich Yanykovich refused to participate. This analysis led to several significant implicationsabout imaging strategies, Brummett’s methodology, and Ukrainian political discourse. At the time of this writing, if anyone were to Google the word “Ukraine,” they would bebombarded with advertisements for Ukrainian mail-order brides and single women, or perhapsdescriptions of Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi’s “voluptuous” Ukrainian nurse. Based onthis evidence, Ukraine has been presented as more of a brothel than as a country with a richcultural history and a riveting and unique political landscape. It has been little over two yearssince Victor Yanykovich was elected president and during that time enough amazing events haveoccurred in the rhetorical discourse of Ukraine that an entirely new master’s thesis could bewritten. For example, president Yanykovich appointed long-time aide Mykola Azaroz as hisprime minister. Azarov refuses to speak Ukrainian or appoint a woman to his cabinet, and hecalled a priest to his office in order to exorcise the spirit of former prime minister Tymoshenko,adding that it was “easier to breathe” in there afterwards (Harding, “Ukrainian Women,” 3). Thesubsequent jailing of Tymoshenko and her top aides, in addition to the various violent brawls inparliament, are all unique rhetorical texts that deserve analysis. In its short history, Ukraine hasproven that it is unlike any democracy in the world; its leaders behave in ways that would makethem unelectable in western countries, and yet half the citizenry seems largely unfazed by thesenarratives as long as candidates represent their side of the Dnipro River. The country is also tornbetween the Russian Federation and the Western political organizations. In several generations,Ukraine could be part of Russia, a powerful member of the European Union, or an independent,thriving regional power. The rhetorical choices its leaders make and the persuasiveness of their
  17. 17. 17narratives will have a great deal to do with the direction the nation takes during that time. Forthese reasons, communication scholars should take a much greater interest in this literal andrhetorical borderland.
  18. 18. 18 WORKS CITEDBrummett, Barry. “Burke’s Representative Anecdote as a Method in Media Criticism.” Critical Studies in Mass Communication. 1 (1984). Print.Burke, Kenneth. “A Grammar of Motives.” Kenneth Burke On Symbols and Society. Ed. Joseph Gusfield. U of Chicago P, 1989. Print.Burke, Kenneth. A Rhetoric of Motives. Berkeley: U of California P, 1950. Print.Byrne, Peter. “Yanukovych stumbles out of campaign starting gate.” Kyiv Post 24 January 2009. Web. 15 Aug 2010.Chalupa, Irena. “Ukraine’s Gold-Plaited Comeback Kid.” Radio Free Europe. 23 September 2008. Web. 15 Aug 2010.“Yulia Tymoshenko Biography.” Correspondent. 10 July 2010. Web. 15 August 2010. Danilova, Maria. “Fierce Fight in Ukraine’s Parliament Injures 6.” The Associated Press. 17 December 2010. Web. 15 August 2010.Halpin, Tony. “Tymoshenko refuses to concede defeat in bitter Ukraine elections.” The Sunday Times. 8 February 2010. Web. 15 August 2010.Harding, Luke. “Ukrainian women berate ‘Neanderthal’ PM for sexist remarks.” The Guardian. 24 March 2010. Web. 15 August 2010.Herrick, James. The History and Theory of Rhetoric. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, 2005. Print.Levy, Clifford. “Toppled in Ukraine but Nearing a Comeback.” New York Times. 15 January 2010. Print.Levy, Clifford. “Ukraine Raises the Pressure on Opposition Leaders.” The New York Times. 9 February 2011. Web. 20 August 2010.“When Did Yanykovich Take the Tests?” Pravda. 23 September 2004. Web. 20 August 2010.“Tymoshenko Opens Populist Drive for Ukrainian President.” Radio Free Europe. 25 October 2009. Radio.---“About last night’s show.” Tymoshenko Blog. 26 December 2009. Web. 20 August 2010.
  19. 19. 19---“An open letter to Viktor Yanykovich.” Tymoshenko Blog. 11 January 2010. Web. 20 August 2010.---“New Year’s Address.” Quoted from “Snow Queen Tymoshenko Celebrates New Year on Maidan.” Ukrainiana. 1 January 2010. Web. 20 August 2010.---“Ukraine Has a Choice.” Television Advertisement. Russia Today. 5 February 2010. Web. 20 August 2010.Way, Lucan. “The Ukrainian Election: Tymoshenko’s Strong Showing.” Ukraine’s 2010 Election Watch: University of Toronto. 9 February 2010. Web. 20 August 2010.Yanykovich, Viktor. “I wasn’t trained as an artist.” Quoted from Taras. “Yanykovich: I wasn’t trained as an artist.” Ukrainiana. 9 December 2009. Print.---“See No Crisis, Hear No Crisis.” Quoted from Taras. “As Tymoshenko Goes Solo, So Does Yanykovich.” Ukrainiana. 5 February 2010. Web. 20 August 2010.---“Kharkov Address.” Quoted in Byrne, Peter. “Yanukovych stumbles out of campaign starting gate.” Kyiv Post 24 January 2009. Web. 20 August 2010.---“Your Choices.” Quoted in Taras. “Tymoshenko v. Yanykovich in Round 2 Commercials.” Ukrainiana. 5 February 2010. Web. 20 August 2010.Yushenko, Viktor. “Parliament Address.” Quoted in Hugh, Edward. “Ukraine President Says the Economy ‘Shank by up to 30%.’” Fistful of Euros. 31 March 2009. Web. 20 August 2010.