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Bill Clinton's Speech - Essay Example

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Bill Clinton's Speech

Within hours of this confessional breakfast, the internet was a flurry of activity. The news of the speech, and the opinions of this president by millions around the world was spread, and the net seemed to close on William Jefferson Clinton. In a 445-page document, all posted on the internet, Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel, had found Bill Clinton liable to impeachment on eleven counts involving perjury, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, and abuse of authority. This indictment was supported by an agonizing and scandalous telling of details. In the Paula Jones case, Clinton had denied, under oath, ever having had sexual relations with "that woman, Miss Lewinsky". Therefore, Mr. Starr has provided a lurid and sometimes funny account of Bill Clinton's "sexual encounters" with Monica Lewinsky, a 21-year-old intern at the White House. This section of the report revealed Clinton "as a middle-aged urchin, dangerously vulnerable, lacking judgment, self-control and integrity. Public attention worldwide has naturally centered on this section of the Starr Report." (Ahmad)
The response to the President's speech, varied among the many religious communities of the United States. Several who were present told reporters later that they had been deeply moved by the president's speech Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, general secretary of the US National Council of Churches, the largest ecumenical organization in the country, described the temper of the audience as "deeply spiritual". She believed Clinton to be penitent. She also told reporters that even so she wasn't sure if the United States was "prepared to be led by a repentant sinner." (Herlinger)
A well-known African American clergyman, James Forbes, senior minister of New York City's Riverside Church, said in a television interview following the address that "it felt like a real holy moment. There was not a single false note. Here is a man who has been anointed by grace and awaits restoration," said Forbes. (Herlinger)
Clinton emphatically denied doing anything wrong, following the accusations that surfaced in early 1998. He clearly stated he had no "sexual contact" with a young White House intern. These accusations were made in the course of a civil lawsuit against then President Clinton, in an alleged act of sexual harassment occurring while he was governor of Arkansas. Clinton was accused of lying to a grand jury about his sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, the young intern. Having been caught in a series of lies about his personal affairs demanded a public response. That response took the shape of the "I have sinned" speech, delivered September 11, 1998, and one other delivered August 17, 1998. The September speech can be considered effective because it shifted the public focus in such a way that Clinton's character appealed to his audience. (Harris)
Considering the two speeches to be Clinton's apologia to the American public several constants can be identified that contributed to the effectiveness, particularly the September speech. 1) Ethical appeals precede logical appeals; 2) Offensive remarks follow defensive remarks; 3) Most evidence appears in the middle third apologia; and 4) The argument resembles previously used arguments. A fifth constant more recently added to this list is an apologia ends with an appeal to ...Show more

Summary

The essence of presidential power has been argued to be rhetorical leadership. What made this speech work for Clinton is that he allowed his presence to show through in the composition, blurring the line between a political apology and a personal essay. The situation at hand required this type of approach…
Author : stehrshyann
Bill Clintons Speech essay example
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