George W. Bush was the 43rd president of the United States, taking the reins of a nation at a time where the strength and foundation of America would be tested in a way never before experienced. Even prior to this, he had spent time in the political world. Philosophy editor Brian Duignan writes, “[Years before his election as president], Bush spent 18 months in Washington, D.C., working as an advisor and speechwriter in his father’s presidential campaign…[He] was a businessman and served as governor of Texas (1995-2000).” The next year, he would follow in his father’s footsteps as president—the first president in many years to deal with a foreign attack on U.S. soil. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Bush attends to the needs of the nation with a variety of methods.
In George W. Bush’s 9/11 Address to the Nation, he speaks to the American people with the purpose of comforting the nation in a time of crisis and spurring action against the terrorists behind the attacks. He encompasses a tone of somber lament as he pursues the subject of recognizing the thousands of lost lives, “[stressing] the values of freedom and justice as qualities that [make] America great and [outlining] plans to address the crisis” (Milford).
One of the main methods Bush employs to achieve his goal of providing comfort is appealing to the emotions of the people. He engraves pathos into his speech with words such as, “Terrorists attacks can attack the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” To drive home the horrid nature of the attacks, Bush repeats words such as terrorists, shatter, and evil. He slowly transfers from supplying comfort to pledging vengeance against America’s enemies, repeating the words peace, security, and justice. He assures his audience of the actions to be taken and his resolve to carry them out.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the nation desperately needed comfort. With the somber, grieving tone, Bush caringly supplies America with emotional consolation and physiological restoration. As he abruptly yet consciously addresses the attacks, he reminds his audience of American strength and steadfastness. He then further helps dissipate the feeling of helplessness left in the wake of the crashing planes by confirming the justice that would follow. Patriotic word choice cements this effect. Undoubtably, Bush’s 9/11 Address to the Nation is a true example of immortal American values and determination.
There are some who say Bush was a weak, ineffective president, but he came through on the day of America’s darkest hour. Following the attacks, America needed to be assured that their nation would stand, that justice would be served. With his reminders of American strength, display of patriotism, and assurance of justice, Bush does just that. He accomplished his goal admirably.
1. George W. Bush – Address to the Nation on 9-11-01 – The Rhetoric of 9/11, 11 Sept. 2017, www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/gwbush911addresstothenation.htm.
2. Duignan, Brian. “George W. Bush.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Oct. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/George-W-Bush.
3. Milford, Mike. “National Identity, Crisis, and the Inaugural Genre: George W. Bush and 9/11.”Southern Communication Journal, vol. 81, no. 1, Jan. 2016, p. 18.
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