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Critique of a Political Speech - Essay Example

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English Critique of a Political Speech. The killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Latin by American specialist soldiers was announced to the world by Barack Obama on 2nd May 2011 in short, televised speech from the White House. It was late on Sunday evening, and the news was both sudden and shocking to audiences within America and across the world…
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Critique of a Political Speech
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Download file to see previous pages The opening phrase “Good evening, tonight I can report to the American people and the world…” makes it clear that the speech is a formal announcement, and that the President is conscious that his words will become a part of history. The word “report” implies that he will stick to a factual account, and the language that he uses to describe events in Pakistan follow this up, for example “an operation” (paragraph 1) “counterterrorism professionals” (paragraph 6) “a targeted operation (paragraph 11) “took custody of his body” (paragraph 11). This use of plain and logical language, describing neutrally what happened is called an appeal through logos. The action is presented as a straightforward continuation of America’s counter-terrorism strategy following the 9/11 terrorist atrocities. This can be seen when the President sets out the chronological train of events in his planning and execution of anti-terrorist actions: “Over the years I have repeatedly made clear that we would take action…That is what we have done” (paragraph 15) The timeline of consistent and logical action is also projected into the future: “Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort… We must – and we will – remain vigilant” (paragraph 13). The way that the President delivers the speech is sober and serious, with no pageantry and no audience present. He stands in a dark suit at a podium, inside the Whitehouse but not in any remarkable location. The American flag is held in shot at the opening but the camera focuses very quickly upon the President’s head and shoulders. There is a small “WHGOV” logo at the top right of the screen, and a full White House credits screen is shown at the end, but apart from that there is no emphasis on the Presidential status of the speaker. This is very clever, because it allows the President to speak as a human being, as well as a head of state. He appears determined and calm, and not triumphalist. He even acknowledges the work of his predecessor in office and political opponent, and agrees with him: “I ‘ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11,…” (paragraph 14) This persona of the calm and dignified leader, victor in long battle and steadily carrying on with the country’s business is an appeal through ethos. It uses President Obama’s political status and personal manner to persuade the audience that “this is a good and historic day” (paragraph 16) and “Justice has been done.” (paragraph 19). These last two statements are delivered in the same sober style as the accounts of the action of Pakistan, inviting the audience to trust in his judgement on these matters of interpretation. In fact the President must have known that there would be a lot of angry and worried reactions to the fact that Osama bin Laden was executed without trial. It could be argued that he was not brought to justice at all, and that invading Pakistani air space without permission and then killing him was an act of terrorism which America should be ashamed to admit. These technicalities are not mentioned by the President, and his reassuring persona encourages the audience to concentrate on the result, and not the means that was used to get there. The most obvious rhetorical appeals in the speech are those which use the technique of pathos, a style defined as “an appeal based on emotion” ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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