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A Rhetorical Analysis of George W. Bush's Address to the Nation

George W. Bush’s Address to the Nation Rhetorical Analysis

On 11 September 2001 our nation was attacked by a terrorist group, marking the first attack on our soil since Pearl Harbor in 1941. The President at the time, George W. Bush, gave an address to the nation regarding the attack, this is the speech that I am going to give a rhetorical analysis on. President Bush was successful in all of his appeals in the speech, while everyone tends to think of President Bush as a Texan who has trouble with words, this is speech is one of the most effective in reaching as many Americans and people from other nations on as many different levels as possible.

Did President Bush have success in using his appeals while addressing the nation? The context of this speech was the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers, The Pentagon, and the attempted attack on Washington D.C. On 11 September 2001. There was plenty of bias in the address, as it was coming from the leader of the nation that was attacked. The address was mainly targeted towards Americans but also to other countries that were allies of America and sympathetic to the cause President Bush was addressing.

President Bush was still new in his presidency when the 9/11 attacks happened. He projected himself in this address as a strong leader, yet humble and aggressive, ready to defend the nation he was the leader of. As an American I believe that in his address to the nation that President Bush was very likable to Americans, however the subtle aggressiveness would not appeal to some of the Allies of the nation, and it definitely made very unlikable to the enemies of the United States. “I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks” (Bush 2). The aforementioned statement made President Bush seem to the American people that the Congress was behind him from the moment the attacks happened.

However, President Bush had no respect for the opposing views of his address. Stating “America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. 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 2). By using the statement one will gather that President Bush left no room for his claims that the ones who did this were evil in the world, they had no good in their hearts to do such a thing. President Bush had the attitude that what he was doing was right, there was no doubt in him that America was the one who had been attacked by evil. His tone here was a passive anger that someone would do this, it was also sorrow filled for the loss of the people that had died in the terrorist attacks.

The emotional appeal of President Bush’s speech is very well, as I feel all the emotions he wanted to get across, while looking professional, were well received and the wording was well placed to invoke the emotional response he was looking for. The different emotions he was trying to invoke in the people of the United States were anger, sorrow, and the need to protect the country. While on the other side of the coin he was also trying to make the terrorists fear America, as well as seemingly disappointed in the terrorists who attacked.

President Bush invoked anger in the citizens of America by saying:

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts…Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. 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. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong. (Bush 1)

These same statements were also meant to invoke fear and terror into the people who attacked the nation. President Bush also said “This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. 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 2) By claiming that Americans are united and we have stood down enemies before that any kind of attack will only provoke a response from Americans.

The logical reasoning behind the speech is that, the leader of the United States needed to make a statement about what has occurred, which every American with common sense would expect, as after every great tragedy that has affected the United States, a statement from the President has been made. Making the statement

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington D.C. to help with local rescue efforts. (Bush 1)

President Bush reassured Americans that he had everything under control. In the address President Bush made sure that everything that needed to be addressed at the time was. Examples include how he implemented the emergency response plans, thanking the world leaders who pledged aid, making sure the terrorists knew he was planning to go after them, and to let Americans know that the very nature of these people were evil.

In closing, President George W. Bush’s address to the nation was very effective in appealing to the American people. I believe that his logical appeal was very well put together, explaining how America was harmed but wouldn’t be shaken was very good emotionally. Even today this is one of the greatest speeches given before the start of a conflict, as well as one of the greatest speeches in American history.

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