Persuasive Speech Critique Term Paper

Speech Norman Podhoretz's "Is America Exceptional?" is a persuasive speech that hearkens to the emotional appeal of the American mythos. Podhoretz's audience is largely comprised of Americans, for whom the American mythos holds a great deal of sway. Therefore, Podhoretz's main strength is his emotional appeal and his ability to connect with the audience. He does so also by establishing credibility and ethos, referring a little to his personal background and beliefs but mainly by showing that he shares the same optimistic values that cause one to believe that America is indeed exceptional. It is no accident that Podhoretz starts the speech with a line that typically starts fairy tales: "Once upon a time…"

However, the speaker's emotional appeals (pathos) are only one of the reasons why Podhoretz's speech is technically an effective one. "Is America Exceptional?" also relies on credible and logical reasoning (logos). The reasoning methods are particularly effective because the speaker uses specific examples from credible sources, such as Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. The author quotes liberally from those who both agree and disagree with him, which achieves a dual goal of conveying ethos as well as logos. Furthermore, Podhoretz has a great degree of credibility in academic circles. He can rely on his perceived competence and character, but he goes a step farther by finding common ground with his audience.

Because the Podhoretz speech "Is America Exceptional?" uses pathos, ethos, and logos in equal degrees, it comes across...


The speech is tailored for a sympathetic audience, one who shares the conservative pro-American values that Podhoretz exhibits. Although the speaker begins with some concessions to a liberal part of the audience, he quickly establishes his point-of-view as a conservative.
The speech might be more effective if he did not use inflammatory terms and tones when referring to liberals, though. For example, Podhoretz states, "Judging by what they say and the policies they pursue, modern liberals are not all that concerned about liberty." It is unnecessary to make such generalizations about "liberals." Moreover, it would be helpful if Podhoretz defined exactly what he means by "liberal." It seems that Podhoretz imagines "liberals" to be anyone who finds fault with American exceptionalism, which detracts from his core argument about what exactly makes America exceptional.

Still, Podhoretz's rhetoric creates common ground with a conservative audience. In this way, the speaker retains a high degree of credibility with his target audience. If he aligned himself with a social justice perspective, Podhoretz might isolate himself from conservative members of the audience. Calling the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act "Obamacare" is can be considered derogatory phrase, but using the phrase "Obamacare" helps the speaker to align with a conservative audience. By this point in the speech, Podhoretz does not need to appease any lingering liberals in the audience, and he therefore switches to a nearly fully emotional appeal.

The greatest strength of "Is America Exceptional?" is its speaker's ability to create common ground with his…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Lucas, Stephen E. The Art of Public Speaking. 11th Edition. Chapter 16

Lucas, Stephen E. The Art of Public Speaking. 11th Edition. Chapter 17

Podhoretz, Norman. "Is America Exceptional?" Retrieved online:

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