Persuasion Features of Presidential Scandal Speeches Term Paper

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Presidential Speech

The Presidents accused of scandals in the history of American politics have been known to make memorable apology speeches. Even though, the speech that the Presidents made were done by different people and in different times, marked similarities and patterns have been noted. The Lewinsky scandal was basically a political sex scandal that occurred in 1999. This scandal came out because the President was accused of having a sexual relationship with an intern in the White House, Monica Lewinsky. The Watergate scandal occurred in 1970 because five men were caught at the Democratic National Committee and further investigations led to President Nixon being found guilty of committing fraud. Another fraud that highlighted a President as the causative agent was the Iran Arms and Contra Aid Controversy. This scandal occurred when President Reagan was in the administration and the officials in charge were accused of selling arms to Iran secretly. All the aforementioned scandals presented a scenario for the presidents. Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon and Ronal Reagan all had to give speeches at one time or another to own up for their actions.

All the three presidents that gave speeches made use of a stern and strong voice w when delivering them. The presidents who were accused and found guilt could not have gotten up on stage and stated that the law and all the citizens of America were accusing them without a reason. Most of the speeches delivered had a common feature of accepting what they did wrong and having regret from the situation. The presidents gave a brief overview of what happened and how the country and the government were to deal with the situation.

Analysis of Ronald Reagan's speech regarding the Iran-Contra Scandal

The President gave the speech regarding this issue on March 4th 1987 from the White House. Even though he wasn't directly linked to it as severely as Clinton or Nixon was, the president knows that it had the tendency to ruin his term as a president. He could have gone through impeachment or be forced to resigned. Knowing that he was in a soft corner, the President started the speech by getting in a good light in front of the citizens. Attitude and sternness is never really a choice that presidents should opt for when concerning an apology speech. The speech started off by confirming the power that the people have. The president claimed that he had no idea about what was happening behind his back. In this scandal, it was quite apparent that Vice President George Bush, Col Oliver North, Admiral John Poindexter, White House and other officials took over for what the President have done. Those who have analyzed the speech went onto clearly state that the President was lying about the whole scandal. Regan was known to be a prominent figure for transferring the money and thus carrying out illegal acts. The entire speech carried out by Reagan was very convincing such that it would portray him in very good light about all that he has done.

Apart from adding a tone of trust, the President gave a view of the issues through his perceptions so he would manipulate what the audience was thinking. During the time the President was giving the speech, he known to have the American hostages freed from Iran. Before his administration, President Jimmy Carter was not successful in freeing the Americans. People might not call it a coincidence but it was odd that the hostages were being released at the same time Reagan attained his post as the President. In fact, the negotiations between the President and the Iranian regime were going on since six years. Of course, the President did go on to reveal that he found out what his officers were doing later on and how ashamed he was. He made use of rhetorical questions in his speech that made him look even more innocent. He was attempting to get at the same thought level as the people who were listening to the speech. After asking these questions, the President also gave the answers in such a way that the people listening to him got satisfied. Blaming your own self and showing regret has been a common use in speeches made by the presidents. He went on to say the things he did wrong and how he should have made his moves more carefully. He made use of topicalization when he was talking about how angry or how disappointed he could have been.

Another thing to notice about the speech delivered was that most of the paragraphs ended with something about him. Even though he had the people listening to him, he brought their attention back to what he would do. Constantly, Reagan was reminding people indirectly how he was a fair and just President.

Even though the President may be lying or be telling the truth, he was very blunt and straightforward in stating what went wrong. He made use of direct speech and first person as well probably to feel more personal with the people he was addressing. He promised the families whose loves ones were captured. Because most of the problem in this scandal was because of the people who were corrupt and the officials who 'went behind his back', the President went on to give a detailed summary of the people who are working under him. He gave summaries of them and about their job descriptions. The president kept on reminding the people that the new persons hired will be trustworthy. This was necessary to keep bringing up because he himself knew that these people were outright guilty. The President kept on saying words like "first, now, secondly" to keep the interest of the people. He kept on reminding them about what he was talking about and how is determined to fix what the situation is.

The president also used a lot of pauses and explanatory statements so the people who get his message across. He admitted for his mistakes and promised a better future. He told the people about the plans he had and how is wishing to implement them to make the lives of the people much better.

Analysis of Richard Nixon's Speech regarding the Watergate Scandal.

The Speech that Richard Nixon gave was yet another one that was full of lies. Nixon had been lying about the scandal for two years and he opted for resignation so that he wouldn't have to serve prison time. His speech didn't start like Reagan's but he was more of an accuser rather than a person who was regretting what he did. Nixon blatantly accused his political rivals and the media for going on and on about the Watergate scandal. This approach was rather different and went on to make a much negative impact on public. The accusations soon did turn in to regrets where he did accept his own mistakes. However, he talked about false charges against him which obviously showed that he was lying about the entire matter. The tone of Nixon's speech was more of a person who is extremely sorry for his mistakes. This in contrast to Reagan's speech did sound very fake and thus not very convincing to the audience.

Since Watergate is one of the biggest scandals to have taken place in the history of the country, the audience expected him to make a speech that would be apologetic to the nation. However, this was not the case. He did not really talk about the scandal and only touched it lightly. For most part of the speech, he only talked about the level of sincerity that he had for the country and how much he was concerned about protecting the interests of the country. He was also smart enough to use challenging vocabulary so that most people who would not even understand what he was trying to say. Needless to say, he did make a lot of contradictory statements in his speech as he said that there was no personal agony involved in his resignation, whereas the main reason behind his resignation was the lack of political support and therefore he had to resign even before he could complete his term. The discussion of how his speech lacked any apologies has been a topic of debate since the delivery of the speech back in the days. He did not make an apology to the audience for the Watergate scandal and that is what indicates the lack of sincerity for the country that Nixon carried. Even his body language was very still and monotonous.

Since the speech was directed for the whole nation, it was not a good idea to use difficult words and challenging vocabulary. He used words like abhorrent, precedent, vindicated and turbulent, which were not understood by the people who are not that well educated and that counts for a significant amount of Americans who are not highly educated and therefore they were unable to understand what he was trying to say…

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