Communication Studies, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Argumentation in Context 5:3 (January 2016), pp. 227–248.

doi: 10.1075/jaic.5.3.01kir


Copyright © 2016 John Benjamins Publishing Company. Used by permission.


This paper argues that surface-level analysis of political argument fails to explain the effectiveness of ideological enthymemes, particularly within the context of presidential debates. This paper uses the first presidential debate of the 2012 election as a case study for the use of “Obamacare” as an ideological enthymeme. The choice of a terminological system limits and shapes the argumentative choices afforded the candidate. Presidential debates provide a unique context within which to examine the interaction of ideological constraints and argument due to their relatively committed and ideologically homogenous audiences.