Rhetorical Analysis Of Aristotle's 9/11 Speech

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On September 11th, 2001, a group of terrorists led airplane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (Merskin 375). The American government would eventually blame the attacks on terrorists of “Arab/Middle Eastern descent,” an American enemy that, according to Debra Merskin, had been well in place since the Gulf War of 1991 (Merskin 375). Given this, when Bush delivers his speech on the morning of the attacks, it is important to keep in mind that an enemy is already firmly in place (though the President does not explicitly identify the enemy). Further, it is crucial that we note George Bush’s credibility prior to the attacks. Bligh, Kohles and Meindl remark that, “Despite earlier doubt in the President’s tenure regarding voting scandals, …show more content…

The first “[depends] on the character of the speaker,” the second depends on “the apparent proof conveyed by the words of the speech itself,” and lastly, the third “[puts] the audience into a certain frame of mind” (409). If one evaluates Bush’s speech based on these three modes, it becomes clear that sheer pathos undermines (or renders irrelevant) ethos and logos. Indeed, the success of Bush’s speech rests on capitalizing upon the anger and sadness of the American people in regards to the tragedy of the victims, thereby putting them in a vengeful mindset. Throughout his speech, Bush portrays the victims as “secretaries, businessmen and women, military and federal workers. Moms and dads. Friends and neighbors,” thus hailing any reader who values these connections (“Text of Bush’s Address”). He even anticipates how his readers are feeling, saying that “The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger” (“Text of Bush’s Address”). Part of his rhetorical strategy is to place himself on par with the average American citizen, since he frequently uses the pronoun “we.” Given this, part of the reason as to why his credibility is automatically valid is that he feels the same emotions as his audience, and thus shares their “way of life” (“Text of Bush’s

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