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Gabe Johnson
Professor Rood
English 250H
25 September 2015
Assignment 3: Rhetorical Analysis
Jimmy Carter builds up to his point slowly, but announces it loud and clear in his
was a lack of confidence and faith in the American ideals. Adding to the situation, the
nation had just experienced a decade and a half of assassinations, war, and corruption,
which only further weighed down the American people. Carter strove to point out the
more fundamental issues behind the major problems, though. Utilizing techniques
including presenting facts and quotations, appealing to our emotions and sense of logic,
acute selection of details, informal style, and easily understandable sentences, Carter
Americans can help solve it.
Carter starts his argument strongly by building a connection with his audience, the
American people. Almost immediately after his introduction, Carter shares quotes from
the broad group of American people he hosted at Camp David. This is a very effective
way of building his case. The American people present the evidence for him and he
DXGLHQFHLQ&DUWHUVDUJXPHQWLW also builds his credibility. His argument is not just

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pulled out of thin air; it has been validated by the very people he is trying to convince.
This makes the audience more trusting and open to Carters argument because he is not
just a talking head spouting out random facts.
Furthermore, by building his credibility with the audience, Carter uses an ethical
appeal and a logical appeal. He solidifies his image as an educated and trustworthy
individual, which allows the audience to believe his points more easily. Also, by
presenting quotes from general Americans, Carter appeals to our sense of reasoning. It is
only logical that the American people know the state of their society better than anyone
else. Because of that, the audience will react kindly and easily agree with Carters main
Additionally, Carter uses an intelligent selection of details to effectively argue his
point. Many of his major points about the realities of American society are followed by
example solutions from the past. Carter rightfully assumes that his audience knows a bout
the issues in American society of the time and therefore puts a greater focus on the
solutions. This successfully prevents the audience from becoming bored and tired of
hearing their own complaints too much. He mentions the discouraging facts but always
puts more focus on the positive ways in which they can be fixed and the positive ways
America has fixed its problems before. For example, Carter says "Our fathers and
mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great
Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the
ZRUOG SDU %\IRFXVLQJPRUHRQoptimistic details, Carter creates an optimistic and
confident tone for his speech that further convinces his audience that they can solve the

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main point in the middle of his speech, rather than at the beginning, after he has presented
evidence for it. This draws the audience in and allows them to discover that main idea
along with Carter. He GRHVQW present his argument as something that just popped into his
head, instead he gradually guides the audience to it. Furthermore, after initially
presenting his main argument, Carter presents more evidence and restates his thesis again
at the end. This is a very effective strategy for maintaining the attention of the audience
throughout the speech.
Carter further strengthens his argument by using generally informal and patriotic
statistics, scientific facts, or technical terms. Rather, Carter speaks as though he were just
preaching at the local church. He utilizes words and phrases with meanings that ring true
with average American and appeal to their patriotism. For inVWDQFHKHVD\V:HNQRZ
the ideas of American strength and unity, Carter engages the audience and fires up their
passion for America. Carter knows that Americans love hearing how awesome America
is and he plays into that. Ultimately, that is one of the best ways he gets the audience to
jump onboard with his argument.
One more aspect that strengthens Carters speech is his easily understandable
sentence and phrase structure. He uses a variety of short, to-the-point sentences and
longer phrases to allow the audience ample time to digest his ideas. He demonstrates this
when he says:

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Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. You doQWOLNHLWDQG
neither do I. What can we do about it? First of all, we must face the truth,
and then we can change our course. We simply must have faith in each
other, faith in our ability to govern ourselves, and faith in the future of this
nation. (par 45-46).
Carter begins this quote with three sentences of a medium to short length, then uses a
medium length sentence, and finally uses a long sentence. By structuring his paragraphs
in this waytransitioning from shorter sentences to longer sentencesCarter makes it
easier for the audience to follow his points. If he just spoke in really long, run-on
sentences, the audience would become overwhelmed and lose interest. Instead, the
audience is able to follow Carters ideas and has enough time to understand the main
point of each section. Through his method of alternating between shorter phrases and
longer phrases, Carter effectively engages the audience and draws them into his
one specific, crucial moment in American history, its rhetorical techniques are so
effective it would still convince an audience today. This is evidence of not just a good
argument, but a great one. All this speech needs is minor updates to specific details and it
could serve as a State of the Union address. &DUWHUVDSSHDOWRWKH$PHULFDQSHRSOH
would be just as effective now as in 1979 because of his patriotic style and logical
Carter knew his audience well and proved it with his persuasive techniques. Set
against the backdrop of the energy crisis of the late 1970s and the aftermath of the

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tumultuous 1960s and early 1970s, Carter had a tough audience to convince. But he
achieves his goal of bringing the nation to the realization that there are major issues in
American society and that the American people can affect the future of their country.
Specifically, Carter successfully achieves that purpose through presentation of facts and
quotations, appeals to logic and emotion, intelligent detail selection, and easily
understandable style.

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Works Cited
1. Carter, Jimmy. "A Crisis of Confidence." American Experience. Web. 20 Sept.
2015. <>.

2. PBS. "General Article: Carter's "Crisis of Confidence" Speurch." American( )] TJETBT1 0 0 1 126.075