Rhetorical Analysis of Andrew Shepherd's Speech in Movie, The American President

Rhetorical Analysis of Andrew Shepherd's Speech in Movie, The American President

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A president has to have character, right? I mean, if the leader of the free world has no substance, nothing special about him, then how do we as citizens know that he is capable as far as foreign policies go. How do we know that we can trust him to make wise decisions? How do we know that he will tell us the truth? This concept is exactly what fictional president Andrew Shepherd successfully conveys in his “Address to the Press on Bob Rumson and the Crime Bill.” In the movie, The American President, Andrew Shepherd becomes romantically involved with crime bill lobbyist Sydney Ellen Wade. Many characters, including Bob Rumson, believe that the relationship between Shepherd and Wade is hindering the advancement of the country. They believe that this relationship shows lack of character, and it is made apparent to Shepherd through the side comments and actions of those opposing him. In the closing scenes of the movie, Shepherd is found defending himself and his character through the form of a rhetorical speech. He convincingly uses pathos to appeal to his audience’s sense of nationality and pride.

As a typical politician should, Shepherd uses emotional appeal or pathos in his defense. When defending character, when defending emotion, the most logical approach is pathos. If one uses emotion to defend himself from emotional attacks, one is capable of producing a very strong persuasive argument. Give the opposition a taste of their own medicine. Shepherd does exactly that when address’s the American people. He talks about the constitution, the foundation on which this great country is built.

“For the record, yes, I am a card carrying member of the ACLU, but the more important question is ‘Why aren’t you, Bob?’ Now this is ...


... middle of paper ...


...hat they know they can stand up for him and be proud. It is effective.

There are many different ways to be persuasive. Depending on what one is trying to get across one will use each of these strategies in different degrees. When defending ones character, pathos is the most effective. It works because, in this case, the American people had some emotional doubt in their president. It would be foolish to try to build up confidence with facts. If the people have no faith in their leader, they won’t believe the facts anyways. It is equally foolish to use the route of ethos or credibility. At this point in time Shepherd had lost his credibility. His credibility was exactly what he was trying to restore. The only logical path lead to any form of retribution is that of pathos. Build those that have lost faith with emotion. Give them a reason to believe you.

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