July 2011 has been a difficult month for President Obama and his administration, with many crucial issues running in parallel. In what concerns Greece, the President has welcomed the important steps taken to stabilize the euro zone under the new Greek debt deal. Also, regarding the american debt crisis, Barack Obama declared on July 15 that “we are not Greece”. Moreover, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, expressed her support for Greece during a visit to Athens, saying: “We stand by the people and the government of Greece”. We could also mention the ads that appeared at various stations and bus stops in Washington, D.C. that discredited Greece with the slogan “Next Stop: Greece. Raising the debt without cutting spending is our own Greek Tragedy”.
What is the opinion on Barack Obama among Greek bloggers? Opinion analysis is a new feature included in the latest release of aino. We have analyzed opinion for President Obama on Greek blogs, for the period July 1 – July 28, 2011. We start our presentation of the findings by showing the number of mentions on a daily basis:
Here is in short the procedure that we have implemented in order to compute opinion within texts. We start by creating the entity “Barack Obama” and searching for its mentions in very large corpora from Greek news sites and blogs. Next, we train our model in order to form a conceptual cloud around the entity that will make possible the linking between, for instance, Barack Obama, President Obama and the President of the U.S. We have manually created sentiment resources in Greek and we match our dictionaries against the input documents. Next, we apply natural language processing techniques in order to compute whether sentiment expressions actually refer to the entity “Barack Obama”. Once we find associations, we apply rules such as negation in order to determine the intensity and polarity of the expression. The next diagram depicts the opinion over time on President Obama, in the range [-1…+1] (very negative to very positive).
We can see that opinion on President Obama in Greek blogs has been negative during July 2011. The main events that contributed to the negative opinion were:
On July 8, the President blamed Greece, Japan, high gas prices, uncertainty over the debt-ceiling issue, and natural disasters across the globe for the rising US unemployment.
On July 12, Le Monde in its editorial with the title “Ces gamins qui nous gouvernent” (those kids that govern us) declared: la situation requiert des adultes – et on en manque, à Washington comme à Bruxelles http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2011/07/12/ces-gamins-qui-nous-gouvernent_1547754_3232.html. The editorial was extensively reproduced in Greek on-line sources.
On July 15, the President said the US is not Greece. During the same period appeared the offensive campaign against Greece: Next Stop: Greece, Don’t raise the debt ceiling without cutting spending.
On July 22, the US debt limit talks failed.
The only positive event occurred on July 18, when the US Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton visited Greece and received positive media comments, as she declared the support of Washington in the efforts made by the Greek government to tackle the economic crisis.
The distribution of opinion in ranges of values is as follows:
The majority of values fit in the range [-0,20…0]. Very positive values are associated with Mrs. Clinton’s visit in Athens and the final flight of NASA’s space shuttle program, an event covered by Greek media.
There are two more dimensions of opinion analysis that are computed by aino: polarity and subjectivity. Positive and negative affect theories are based on the idea that positive and negative opinion should be separately tracked because they vary independently. An aggregate neutral opinion can be the result of equal antithetical opinions of low or high polarity. The evolution of polarity over time appears in the next diagram:
Some high polarity points are associated with the following events:
On July 4 a Fox news hacker announced that Obama is dead.
On July 8 the President blamed Greece for the spike in the US unemployment figures.
On July 23 several events took place: the Norway attack and the war on terrorism, House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to end debt talks with President Barack Obama, and an article signed by Paul Krugman that appeared in the Times and was reproduced in Greek media, entitled “letting bankers walk” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/opinion/18krugman.html.
The computational processing of subjectivity within texts is also a feature of the opinion analysis family. The idea is to compute the amount of subjective expressions within a document.
On July 11, Mrs. Lagarde, the new chief of IMF foresees “real nasty consequences” if the U.S. fails to raise its borrowing limit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/10/imf-us-borrowing-limit_n_894044.html. Subjectivity exhibits local maxima on this date because Mrs. Lagarde’s statement has ignited a discussion with subjective arguments and critics that dismissed Greece’s butterfly effect role in the global crisis, since the US debt crisis is order of magnitudes more severe than the Greek debt crisis.
Finally, July 23 (see above) seems to be a day with very negative opinion, high polarity and high subjectivity as well.