Critique of a Public Speech

Published 01 Aug 2016

In his public speeches, President George Bush often concentrates on the topic of terrorism since this threat is an important issue in American politics these days. One of the recent speeches was his radio address delivered to the nation on August 19, 2006. In this speech, the President outlined the goals of anti-terrorism programs for the foreseeable future, as well as put the national security issues in the context of the recent conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

George W. Bush has always been a good public speaker, able to ignite the audience and motivate it to act. His stance on terrorism is well-known and is reflected in this speech, although his position can undergo changes over time.

His speech opens with very successful and impressive goal-setting that sets the objectives right from the start and helps define clear goals that will appeal to most of the nation. Bush states: “We will defeat the terrorists and expand freedom across the world, we’ll protect the American homeland and work tirelessly to prevent attacks on our country, and we will continue to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of America and build a more prosperous future for all our citizens.” This sums up the outcomes of his meetings with his economic and security teams and helps connect security issues that often get controversial in this nation with all the opposition to security checks to economic issues that clearly evoke everybody’s concerns. The beginning delineates the policies of the White House and sets the framework for the later discussion.

Bush then creates an impression of thorough work in his administration with the following words: “On Monday, I visited the Pentagon and the State Department, where we discussed the war on terror”. This makes the listeners feel as if the President and the rest of the nation are working for one common goal, but the President will put in more effort and work at a higher level. It reminds the public the George W. Bush is no less interested in the prosperity and development of the nation than they are themselves. He is clearly engaged in positive action, and this issue will appeal to the speaker as well as a clear beginning outlining goals.

Thus, Bush’s speech has two strong points: a strong introduction that sets an appropriate beginning and ability of the speaker to connect with the audience in a personal way. In this way, the President makes this speech suitable to the audience and helps listeners gain an improved understanding of issues involved. His speech is clear, yet not primitive. Bush speaks of foreign policy matters with neutral words that do not include too many foreign and strange terms and will not make the matter too complicated.

He does not forget to appeal to the emotions of the speaker either. Phrases like “the unstoppable power of freedom” and “hateful ideology” use powerful attributes to characterize the drive of Americans toward democracy and the ideology of their adversaries. The President gives the audience an opportunity to understand clearly the emotions he experiences toward terrorists and their actions. The recent plans for terrorist attacks in Great Britain are described as a “vicious plot”. The image of “young democracies” is also emotionally appealing to people, and the talk of terrorists “seeking to stop liberty’s advance” can inspire many people to oppose these groups.

The President is trying to reinvigorate pride in the nation and its achievements. This patriotic feeling is one of the main focuses of his speech and adds to the emotional appeal of the whole address. Thus, he uses this sentence talking about breakthroughs in the settlement of the Middle East conflict:

Thanks to the leadership of Secretary Rice and Ambassador Bolton at the United Nations, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that will help bring an end to the violence and create a foundation for a sustainable peace (Bush, 2006)

This sentence helps introduce a topic that governs the rest of the discussion about terrorism and related issues: the UN resolution. The other paragraphs are logically structured to disclose further actions that will help make the resolution reality. Bush uses strong phrases to bring

America in his view becomes one of the main fighters against terrorism and one that is going to have a crucial role in settling the current Israel-Hezbollah conflict. The sense of urgency of action and strong belief in the future of this nation is felt in the words:

The United States is now working with our international partners to turn the words of this resolution into action (Bush, 2006)

This part reinforces the meaning of the US as a global partner for foreign nations and allows the President to underscore the urgency of actions the Administration takes for the resolution of the Middle Eastern crisis. In the same words, he strengthens his image as a representative of the people since his administration tries to act on behalf of the people and speak as their voice. Americans from this speech can learn what the administration does for their sake and on their behalf, a fact that helps the listeners connect more closely with the President.

Therefore, the speech has a logical structure where thoughts are presented in the sequence that makes their understanding easy. The President successively talks to the nation about his actions concerning the Middle Eastern crisis, then proceeds to talk about anti-terrorist measures, and concludes with remarks pertaining to the state of the economy. In doing so, he also smoothly covers various topics, linking them to his visits to different agencies. The speech has references to his past rhetoric concerning terrorism, at the same time specifying political measures that relate to the current, ongoing, conflict in the Middle East.

Since a radio address does not offer the speaker opportunities to influence the audience with facial expression and gestures, the orator, given the scarcity of means, has to use voice effectively to impact the people. George W. Bush, as I mentioned, has good presentation skills that impact his radio addresses as well as real-life speeches. In this case, his emotional tone and convinced voice helped create an impressive speech that triggers a response in the hearts of listeners. He emanated conviction of the rightness of his ideas and actions of the US administration. In addition to his tone, he used effective pauses that helped him make his case, taking a breath between paragraphs. This tactic also allowed him to let the meaning of his speech and its specific portions sink in the audience’s mind. However, the impression created in the speech could have been stronger had the President used a regular public speech environment. This time, however, the use of a public speech appears less feasible since the President would not have been able to use it to appeal to audiences as large as the one he was speaking to at this time.

President George W. Bush’s radio address on August 19, 2006, has all the characteristics of a good speech. It is logically structured and allows listeners to understand matters explained in depth thanks to the logical sequence of events and phrases presented. The speech effectively appeals to the emotions of the listeners through the use of colourful language and persuasive tone. These advantages help the President overcome the limitations of the radio speech and make the audience feel united by common goals and associate themselves with the President’s actions.

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