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Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper

Analysis of President George W. Bushes first address to the nation after 9/11

At 8:30 p.m. on September 11th 2001 President George W Bush gave his first address to
the nation from the Oval Office of the White House. It was mere hours after the attacks on the
World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A great deal was at stake. The United States was in
disarray, as most people were overtaken by their various emotions. In his speech President Bush
addresses the American people, and the whole world, as leaders from our allies and even our
enemies, were tuned in. The address that President Bush gave was significant because while this
may not be the most well known speech President Bush presented about 9/11; it paved the way
for how America handled the crisis both abroad and at home.
September 11th 2001 will forever be marked as one of the most traumatic days in
American history. On that day the United States was a nation under attack (Infield) as both
towers of the World Trade Center along with the Pentagon were struck in a terrorist assault. It
was the deadliest attack to have ever taken place on American soil. In the aftermath of the attacks
on 9/11 Americans were left in shock and fear. Tom Infield wrote, College students at Notre
Dame were advised to stay in their dorms. Disneyland was closed, this quote perfectly explains
the fear surrounding the American people during this crisis. However people were not just afraid
they were also angry. Many people wanted retribution and revenge against the people who had
attacked our country. They wanted military intervention or some other type of physical
vengeance. This anger and fear could have been a dangerous combination if not handled
correctly by the President.
This address was prompted by several exigencies both rhetorical and non-rhetorical. The
main exigence in this situation was non-rhetorical, that is the attacks themselves. However there

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper


were also some rhetorical exigencies, such as, the reaction of the American people, and people
around the world. Another rhetorical exigence that President Bush had was the American peoples
view on necessary military action. President Bush also faced several constraints during and
before his speech, one of which being that a terrible attack on America had just taken place only
a few hours earlier. Furthermore because there was an attack President Bush was put on Air
Force One and not allowed into the White House by his secret service for several hours after the
attack. Therefor he was constrained by the people around trying to keep him safe, which
impacted his ability to do the job he needed to do at that moment in time. Throughout this paper I
will be analyzing how President Bush uses ethos, pathos and logos to construct a persuasive
speech in order to calm rising tensions during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. I will conclude
this paper by evaluating the ethics and strategy of this speech.
Throughout his address President Bush uses the artistic proofs through ethos, pathos and
logos in order to construct a good persuasive speech. One of the first things he uses is ethos.
Ethos is the study of how a speaker builds credibility throughout a speech (Herrick 84). This is
seen immediately in the setting in which he is giving the speech. This speech was given in the
Oval Office, behind the resolute desk, a desk used by many presidents for speech giving, bill
signings, and so much more. The Oval Office if the office of the President and to many it is the
office that gives the President his power, because as long as he is in the office he has the power.
This notion of the office giving the person the power can be seen in the way that a presidents
term in power is often referred to his term in office. The resolute desk can build ethos because
it has been in the office of the president for decades. The desk was a gift from the queen of
England to the President of the United States, so it belongs to the president only for as long as he
is in office. Furthermore the seal of the president can be seen on a flag in the background at the

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper


beginning of the speech. The seal of the president helps to build President Bushs ethos is similar
ways as the office and the desk. This is because the seal belongs/refers to the person who is
currently president. Furthermore the seal has been around for a long while and has time to gain
credibility that President Bush did not necessarily have. Once another president is inaugurated
the seal, desk as well as the office, and the power passes to the next person. These symbols all
help to build President Bushs credibility because as the President of the United States Bush
seemingly had access to more information than most other people. Furthermore his title as
President contains a lot of credibility, because not only have past presidents helped to build the
credibility of the office, he had to be elected by a majority of the people in order to win the
presidency. The campaigning that President Bush had to do in order to win the election, along
with the fact that he had done a decent job in office meant that he already had a bit of built in
credibility from the past.
Ethos is also seen in this speech when President Bush says, I implemented our
government's emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it's prepared. These
statements help to build the presidents credibility because he is reminding the American people
of the power he has a commander in chief. President gained his power as commander in chief
when he was inaugurated. As commander in chief Bush commands all of the American armed
forces, including the army, navy, marines, air force and so on. As acting commander in chief
President Bush had all of the information about our military. Furthermore for the information
about the military that Bush did not know he had many different people such as the joint chiefs
and many top military officers to advise him. President Bushs power as commander in chief
allows him to be able to make military calls, and gives him the knowledge about our military for
this statement to be reassuring.

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper


President Bush also uses pathos in his address to the American people. Pathos is a study
of human emotion and how a speaker can manipulate the audiences emotions (Herrick 82).
President Bush uses pathos to create images and stories throughout his speech. One example of
this is in the beginning of his speech when he says The pictures of airplanes flying into
buildings, fires burning, huge -- huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible
sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. (Bush) This quote is pathos because not only does Bush
explicitly mention feelings that most of the country is feeling he also evokes the feelings he
mentions. The images that President paints are so vivid in the minds of the people because they
were reality earlier that same day. The planes crashing into buildings is what started the series of
tragic events, the massive fires are what comes next, and the structures collapsing brought the
attacks to an end. In his use of logos President Bush retells the story of tragic events that
happened only hours ago. Furthermore in his use of stating the feelings that the American people
have felt that day he tells a story. After the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center the
country was in disbelief. Many thought it was just a fluke or an accident. However when the
second plane hit what might have seemed an accident became an unmistakable chain of terrorist
attacks. (Saltonstall) The realization that these attacks were in fact an act of terrorism lead to
the next emotion that President Bush addresses, sadness. As mentioned above these attacks were
the deadliest to ever take place on American soil. There was a great loss of life, which left many
people very sad, either for a loved one they or someone they new lost or a general sadness for the
nation. Finally comes the anger, the attacks left many people angry and wanting retribution. By
telling a story President paints a picture in the peoples mind of a real event that happened mere
hours ago strengthening his use of pathos.

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper


Another way that Bush uses pathos throughout his speech is by restating that not only is it
our country but our country is strong.(Bush) The collective use of the word our is a unifying
factor in his speech. By using the word our multiple times President Bush is working to fuse the
American people together. He is trying to get them to stand tall and stand together, because after
such a tragedy it is better to stand together rather than apart. Furthermore he is trying to remind
the American people that while he is their president he also feels their hurt and their pride in their
country, because it is everyones country. Continuously Bush often mentions the strength of
our country. He mentions this many times throughout his address because he is trying to build
the peoples confidence in the nations back up. If the people do not believe that the country is
strong then the country will not be strong. Sure there will be military power; however a country
is strongest when its people back it and President Bush knew that. Furthermore after the attacks
many people wanted to help in any what they possibly could, and with the frequent restating of
the word our President Bush is affirming that yes this is our country and we should do what we
can to help it thrive.
The final method in the artistic proofs that Bush uses in his speech is logos. Logos is the
sense of logic through which an argument is presented (Herrick 82) Throughout his address Bush
uses logos to lay out parts of his plan for the future of America. These plans use logos because
President Bush presents them in such a way that they seem like the logical path to follow. One
instance where Bush lays out his plan is when he states his first step, Our first priority is to get
help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home
and around the world from further attacks.(Bush) This statement uses logos in a few different
ways. The first way logos is used is by numbering this as the first step that President Bush will
take. Furthermore this is the logical first priority to have after a massive attack, safety usually

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper


comes first. The structure of this statement is well planned as well, because President Bush is
setting up what he wants to do first in a reasonable order. First he wants to focus on helping those
at home who are in need. His second step to the first priority it to secure all of Americas citizens
across the globe, especially those who are abroad serving the United States in the military or as
an ambassador.
Another example of logos in President Bushs address is when he says, America has
stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time.(Bush) This statement made by
President Bush is a great example of logos in his address. This is because this statement is very
logic based. The statement starts off with America has stood down enemies before(Bush);
reminding the audience that America is a superpower for a reason. The United States has a strong
military presence, and we are not afraid to use it, especially when we are attacked first. In my
opinion President Bush says we have stood down enemies before not only to reassure the people
but also to remind the world of our abilities. The second part of the statement is what contains a
large portion of the logos for this quote however. President Bush says and we will do so this
time.(Bush) In this phrase President Bush lets it be known that America is going to stand up and
push back. However the way in which he presents this information is very important. The way
this is said it seems like standing down our enemies is the only right answer there is. However
the first part of the statement backs up the second part giving this statement ethos and this
statement is pride filled causing pathos. So this last example is a good representation of how
President Bush used ethos, pathos, and logos in his first address to the American people after
9/11.
Throughout his first address to the nation President Bush used ethos, pathos and logos to
build a persuasive speech. However in this section of my essay I will move away from analyzing

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper


his speech and instead evaluate the ethics and strategy that President Bush employed. In my
opinion the speech that President Bush gave on the evening of September 11th 2001 was ethical. I
believe that this speech was ethical because in the address President Bush focuses on the
emotional needs of the American people. To help their emotional needs President Bush employs
a strategy of collectivist terms. Bush uses the first-person plural personal pronouns we and
us and the first-person plural possessive pronoun our altogether twenty-eight times, among
which our is the most frequent (nineteen times).(Vesel) Furthermore Koehn notes, In these
early references, Bush is identifying with his listeners. Through Bushs use of collective terms
and identification he is building a community that can lean on each other, because Every citizen
was intended to feel a part of the nation (Vesel). By building a community I believe President
Bush is letting the American people know that he hears and shares their pain. I also think that
Bush is working to build the American people up, specifically when he says None of us will
ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our
world.(Bush) In this statement President Bush is focusing on the emotional needs of his
constituents by letting them know that while we will always remember the event and our
feelings, the hurt will fade, and our country will thrive once again. Therefore I believe that
during this address President Bush used a strategy of collectivist terms in order to take care of
the peoples emotional needs. Furthermore the fact that President Bush was so concerned with
the peoples needs makes me believe that this was an ethical speech. Continuously I feel that in
this situation President Bush could have taken advantage of the peoples weakened emotional
state in order to make himself look better or take personal gain. However I believe with this
speech he focused on what the people and the nation needed rather than what he wanted.

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper


In conclusion I believe that President Bushs first address to the nation on the evening of
September 11th 2001 was a good speech. Bushs use of ethos, pathos and logos, worked well in
order to create an effective persuasive speech. Furthermore President Bush was focused on the
needs of the people and the strategy he used throughout the address showed that. All in all I
believe that this speech was a great starting point for the future rhetoric, and policies that
President Bush employed on behalf of America, in response to 9/11.

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper

"On my honor, I have neither given nor received any unauthorized


assistance on this assignment. By signing below, I agree to this
pledge for this paper.
Name: Emily Bishop
Signature: EB
Date: 10/5/2016

Emily Bishop SCOM 341 Fall 2016 Speech Analysis Paper


References
Bitzer, Lloyd. F. "The Rhetorical Situation." Philosophy and Rhetoric. 1.1, (1968):1-14.
Bush, G. (2001, September 11). 9/11 Address to the Nation.
Herrick chapter 4
Infield, T. (2016, October 4). Attack reverberates around the nation; Many Americans expressed
fear as buildings closed. The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved from
http://www.lexisnexis.com/lnacui2api/api/version1/getDocCui?lni=44B7-GSD0-0190X39B&csi=270944,270077,11059,8411&hl=t&hv=t&hnsd=f&hns=t&hgn=t&oc=00240
&perma=true
Koehn, V. (2010). Ethical Elitism: A Burkean Analysis Of The Rhetorical Construction Of A
Moral Persona In The First Term Of President George W. Bush. Electronic Theses and
Dissertations. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.du.edu/etd/343
Saltonstall, D. (2001, September 12). TERRORIST ATTACK ROCKS THE NATION Trade
Center towers & Pentagon struc k. Daily News (New York). Retrieved from
http://www.lexisnexis.com/lnacui2api/api/version1/getDocCui?lni=43YS-HMG0-00T0G2NF&csi=270944,270077,11059,8411&hl=t&hv=t&hnsd=f&hns=t&hgn=t&oc=00240
&perma=true
Vesel, P. (2012). A Highly Charged Pronoun: We in Three September 11 Poems.
Poetics Today, 33(2), 217240.