The Address to the Joint Session of the 107 th Congress Speech

The Address to the Joint Session of the 107 th Congress Speech

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The speech “Address to the Joint Session of the 107th Congress” was delivered the 20th September 2001 in the United States Capitol by the President who was at that time, George W. Bush. In this public statement, the president calls for unity and tranquillity of American people. This paper has as main curiosity that it is an argumentative text full of rhetorical elements. On the one hand, it tries to calm Americans and to soothe the pain of the people affected. On the other hand, it helps to create a feeling of hatred and anger towards Al Qaeda, the terrorist group that carried out the attempt. Based on the document Analysing argumentative Texts and Hugh Rank’s Intensification/ Downplay schema, the rhetorical elements could be more easily scanned. There are intensifier components in this speech such as repetitions, associations and composition and downplay elements which methods used are diversion, omission ad confusion.
First, the intensification components which are present in the text help to ingrain an idea that is distorted because the president says and reinforce the key information that he wanted that the country knew. The repetitions have an idea of persuasion behind its use, and the audience finally takes the elements which have been repeated as the truth. In this text there are crucial words such as “Union”, “Leadership”, “I thank you”, “Americans”, “American people”, “friends”, “we”, “I ask you(r)” among others, the main aim of this words is to create a feeling of unity against a common enemy, Al Qaeda. The repetition is not only used to create good feelings, but also to fill with fear and terror into the citizenship. The examples of them are mainly at the second part of the speech, they are very strong words such as “war”, “terror”, “kill”, “hate”, “terrorist” or “terrorism”. The association is also used in order to appeal to the audience’s feelings. There was a passenger, Todd Beamer, he was considered a hero and the president uses his image and his wife’s one for the purpose of making the audience feel empathy with the grieving wife. The president says that Al Qaeda “commands them to kill Christians and Jews, (to) kill Americans” and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children”, using this he reinforces the feeling of empathy and hatred to Al Qaeda because they have attacked to the vulnerable groups. The composition of the speech helps to intensify all that the speaker is trying to express; at the beginning he uses a solemn tone, then, he starts to speak about Al Qaeda and the attack, his words indicate that there is hatred and anger.

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Finally, he speaks again in a calm and solemn way looking for the unity of the country.
It is remarkable that he makes emphasis on in the attack against Americans starting a war but he almost does not speak about other wars that the United States have carried out, it is an example of diversion. Diversion is a method of downplay the information in order to highlight the one you what to make more relevant. There is omission of information because the reason why the attack was made is not specified; the president insinuates that it is because of jealousy to the country due to their freedom. George W. Bush uses the method of confusion by speaking about extremist acts about Afghanistan people, but then he says that they “respect the people of Afghanistan”.
This speech is an example of how rhetoric is used and how public figures manipulate information to make us believe what interests them, thus not having citizenship against. It is also important to say that this speech was given at a time when the American population was morally destroyed by losses that were experienced and overall pain for what happened.

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