Seminararbeit, 2011, 34 Seiten
“Presidential power is the power to persuade.“ (Neustadt 1980, 10) This is a sentence I came across during my research for this term paper. Even if the statement can be proved by many historical examples, like e.g. the Nazism, it does not explain how the persuasiveness of words works and can be achieved. How can words be used to persuade the audience and therefore be used in a supportive sense for the interests of the speaker? To what extend can political language be seductive and how can a speaker use language to seduce its audience or from the other perspective how can the audience be aware of the real intentions behind such a seductive speech?
Within the frame of this term paper I will try to answer these questions by following the structure as outlined beyond.
First of all I will give a brief overview about the political circumstances that lead to the speeches, I chose to analyze within this term paper.
Then I will go on with the specific analysis of these speeches, namely four speeches by President Bush and one by President Obama. If not indicated in another way, the footnotes contain short abstracts from the particular speech, in order to help the reader find the passages of interest more quickly and easily. The choice to analyze four speeches of President Bush arose out of the fact there a certain development from the first to the last speech. This is contributed by the fact that his first speeches are not that as well formulated as the last speech I chose, because of a lack of time for the first ones. Another pro-argument for the selection of four different speeches concerning the same topic is that it shows a more complete picture of the language’s possibility to persuade than just analyzing one speech. I won’t mention any detail, but rather try to show a wide range of possible instruments, the speakers or rather their speechwriters made use of. The most interesting question referring to these speeches is how Bush was able to accomplish his main goal - to build up a consensus around the war against terrorism - by simply systemically using language (= rhetoric). In order to examine how language contributed to the achievement of Bush’s goal, I will have to find out, how the different aspects of language, like style, vocabulary, rhetorical devices, are taken into service (cf. Silberstein 2002, 1).
As a fifth speech I will analyze Obama’s speech concerning the death of Osama bin Laden, because there again are some distinct features observable since there is another speaker/speechwriter. To complete this, I will try to reveal some connections between Bush’s speeches concerning 9/11 and Obama’s speech.
Finally, a conclusion will be drawn to answer finally the questions I listed above.
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