Communication Rhetoric and Reasoning

This paper presents a critical analysis of the article, History Fairer to Bush by Andrew Roberts. The paper examines the use of rhetoric and modern linguistic theory in the article, as well as, the authors ability to utilize pathos for emotional engagement. Conclusively, the paper scrutinizes the article’s rhetorical reasoning, and the application of ethos and logos in the article.


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History Fairer to Bush by Andrew Roberts

This article examines George W. Bush presidency in the period between 2001 and 2009 (Roberts, 1-2). Specifically, the article argues against the popular notion that Bush was the worst president in the united states of America, defending some of the decisions that he made during his term as president. More specifically, the article draws attention to Bush’s decisions after the September 11 attacks, Muammar Gaddaffi’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program, Invasion of Iraq, as well as, hurricane Katrina. Roberts’s argument here is that, unlike popular belief, history will reveal that Bush was a good American president who had the best interests of his people at heart (Roberts, 1-2). In his opening paragraph, Roberts states that Bush was a good president for America, and the media has tainted his image in the public eye. He continues to explain that if people freed themselves from what the media portrays of Bush and instead thought about the issue on their own, they would realize that Bush was a great American President.

However, he explains that very few people will have the ability to realize this now, and the future historians will be responsible for clearing his name in the public. He argues that all the measures taken by president bush during his tenure were aimed at preventing criminal activity, thus protecting the nation. In addition to the decisions he made as president, the author also draws attention to Bush’s well-known verbal fumbling episodes, which may have cost him his reputation as a good president. He argues that the media has used these as a demonstration of Bush’s poor judgment and inability to perform as a president. In his defend of bush,  Roberts argues that the verbal fumbling demonstrated by president Bush was normal, and they did not signify his inability to perform. He compares Bush to Ronald Reagan, explaining that his verbal fumbling were no illustrations of his lack of intellect (Roberts, 1-2). Generally, the article argues in defense of Bush’s records during his presidency stating that Bush has a fine record, one that has not  been realized by many, but will be in the future.

As mentioned earlier, rhetoric is a tool of persuasion used in linguistics to convince readers of the message being sent across. Put simply, it is the art of persuading an audience through three main persuasive appeals including pathos, logos, and ethos (Cockcroft & Cockcroft 1-258). In relation to the linguistic theory, rhetoric is used as a way of discovering the truth, as opposed to telling lies and deceit. This is brought out through five main ways including invention, memory, style, arrangement, and delivery. In his article, Roberts has successfully managed to utilize the use of this throughout as a support for his ideas in the article. His argument is not only persuasive; it also urges readers to question their own thoughts regarding the issue being discussed in the paper. Roberts’s thesis is simple, appealing, and uncommon, illustrating the first use of rhetoric in the article evident.  If one is to go by popular belief on the issue, it is clear that Roberts arguments in the article are  rather pretentious, questioning the credibility of the information provided by the article. For example, Roberts contradict himself by saying that Bush was aware of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, then later goes on ahead to state that these weapons were not found (Roberts, 1-2). He talks of weapons of mass destruction, mass death, and mass graves, yet he does not provide the necessary evidence required for this.

However, the lack of supportive evidence does not stop Roberts from providing a convincing argument on the issue. His style and memory usage have proved to be advantageous, as they facilitate the development of a persuasive argument for Roberts. All the data and information provided in the paper is solely dependent on the author’s memory of the events that took place in the past, and his ability to couple these events with factual information for the development of a clear and concise thesis. Whether the information provided in the paper is true, the readers do not know, but what they would know for sure is that Roberts’ arguments about president Bush are convincing and believable.

In literature and linguistics, pathos is defined as the ability to appeal to an audience through the use of emotions. Accordingly, pathos is considered as one of the strongest motivating forces in writing if an author is interested in convincing his audience on his views regarding a particular subject matter (Cockcroft & Cockcroft 1-258). Persuading an audience through pathos considers both the feelings of the persuader and the audience, using a subject matter that touches on the feelings of both. The article by Roberts clearly illustrates the use of pathos for persuasion in two main ways. At the outset, Roberts picks on a topic that is of interest to many and generates plenty of emotional response from his audience. There have been continuous debates about the Bush administration and the ways in which the United States was governed during his time. Accordingly, a considerable number of individuals have taken sides on the issue with the numbers of supporters and critics increasing with each debate. Evidently, Roberts has taken this into consideration, and has used this article to appeal to the emotions of his audience.

The utilization of pathos in the article is seen at almost every section of the paper. Roberts tries to appeal to the audience’s sympathies and emotions by providing his audience with his own personal views on the topic, and giving his audience room to generate their own opinions on the issue. He presents his arguments in a two-sided manner, where he acknowledges both the failures and accomplishments of Bush during his term as president. By doing this, Roberts’s audience are compelled to respond emotionally to his views, which illustrates his ability to persuade his audience through pathos. In addition to this, Roberts also applies rhetorical reasoning when writing the article. Rhetorical reasoning is defined as reasoning through the use of arguments, as opposed to reasoning by using logistics and other logical materials (Cockcroft & Cockcroft 1-258). Rhetorical reasoning was developed as a response to logical reasoning, and it is founded on the need for nullifying the arguments of other communicators. In his article, Roberts constantly, utilizes rhetorical reasoning to presents his views to his audience. For example, he begins by stating his viewpoint, which is that Bush was a great president for the United states, and then goes ahead to state that those who argue against this have been blinded by the media. By putting forth such a claim, Roberts invalidates all opposing arguments, on the basis that they are not properly founded and are instead relied on information from the media, which he does not consider a credible source. Evidently, Roberts considers his views as truths that are novel and free from any traditional and conventional ties like his opponents. Arguably, his arguments are plausible and convincing, and they are reliant on his own imagination. This, in turn, illustrates the authors ability to use rhetorical reasoning to communicate his ideas to his audience.

Also referred to as ethical appeal, ethos refers to the provision of a convincing argument through the character of the author (Cockcroft & Cockcroft 1-258). Put simply, it is the ability of authors and other communicators to present themselves as respectable characters who are worth listening to by the audience. In his article, Robertson uses ethos to appeal to his audience in two main ways. The first is evident in the introductory paragraph of the article where he starts off by explaining an interview he had been called for to speak about his views. This gives readers the impression that the author is a well respected and sought-after commentator thus his importance in writing about the issue. Secondly, Roberts also  provides his academic and professional credentials at the end of the article, as a way of giving his audience the idea that he is a respected writer in the field. Evidently, this is a good way of presenting himself as a credited author on the issue, hence the author’s ability to use ethos in persuading his audience.

Roberts also applies logos in his argument. Logos is a form of persuasion, which is reliant on the use of reasoning, both inductive and deductive, as a way of substantiating an argument (Cockcroft & Cockcroft 1-258).  It is whereby the author appeals to individual reasoning and logic when communicating his argument to the audience. Throughout his article, Andrew has applied logos, whereby he presents ideas, and allows his audience to make individual judgments concerning these ideas. Though he explains his views on the matter, Roberts does not impose these views on the audience, and instead provides them with other ideas that they can use to make their own conclusions.


Work Cited

Cockcroft R. & Cockcroft, S. 2005, Persuading People: An Introduction to Rhetoric, Palgrave

Macmillan, London.

Fromkin, V, 2000, Linguistics: An Introduction to Linguistic Theory, Wiley-Blackwell, New


Gleeson, J. & Higgins R. 2008, Rediscovering Rhetoric: Law, Language, and the Practice of

Persuasion, Federation Press, Sydney.

McCroskey, J. 2001, An introduction to Rhetorical Communication, Allyn and Bacon, Boston.

Richards, J. 2008, Rhetoric, Taylor & Francis, United Kingdom.

Roberts, A. 2009, ‘History Fairer to Bush’. The Australian, 20 January, p. 10.

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