The Legacy Of President John F. Kennedy

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Every president strives to remain positive in the public’s eye. Yes, a despised president can still hold office, but the country will always respond much more positively and remember the president better if he or she is viewed favorably. This is particularly true during times of great distress or crises, such as the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, or Hurricane Sandy in 2012. On April 10, 1962, the United States’ largest steel companies raised steel prices by 3.5 percent. President John F. Kennedy had repeatedly called for stable prices and wages, as the country was already under economic strain from foreign affairs. Kennedy held a news conference on April 11, 1962 in order to address this sharp increase in steel prices. He was well aware of the fact that he had to maintain a positive image to a majority of the American public, as well as secure its trust in the government. Kennedy utilizes logos, pathos, and ethos in order to keep the American population confident in its nation during a time of adversity, as well as uniting the public against the steel companies to pressure the industry into lowering prices again. Of all his rhetorical strategies, Kennedy wields logos the most to convey his point. He strives for logical appeal by quoting Secretary McNamara: “It would add, Secretary McNamara informed me this morning, an estimated one billion dollars to the cost of our defenses, at a time when every dollar is needed for national security and other purposes” (lines 32-25). He then transitions to list all of the various ways that this increase in price would affect the common American man, such as making it “more difficult for American goods to compete in foreign markets, … withstand competition from foreign impor... ... middle of paper ... ...public’s trust in him. As a politician, President Kennedy knew that in order to keep the nation calm during a time of economic crisis, he had to keep the public’s favor both in himself and in the government. By appealing to his audience’s logos, pathos, and ethos, and presenting himself as familiar to the common man and dehumanizing the steel companies, Kennedy succeeded in holding the public’s interest and sending a public yet indirect message to the steel companies to lower their prices. The question remains, however, if Kennedy was sincere in his speech. He broadcast his message exactly one day after the announced raise of prices- very quickly even for someone who has a hired speechwriter. Could he have really composed a meaningful speech and plan in that time? Or was his real concern only to stay favorable in the public eye and polls? Afterall, he is a politician.

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