The argument that is being analyzed is Barbara Jordan’s Watergate impeachment speech. Barbara Jordan grew up in Houston. She attended Boston University and obtained a degree in 1959. Just a short year after graduating, Barbara started working on presidential candidate John F. Kennedy’s campaign.
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Williams stated that this gave Jordan “a strong interest in politics” (22). Jordan moved on to become the first African American woman elected to the Texas State Senate. She was elected to the United States House of Representatives. That election made her the first African American woman from the South to serve in Congress. While in Congress, Jordan was appointed to the House Judiciary Committee.
On May 9, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee began an impeachment hearing against President Nixon because he played a part in the cover-up of the Watergate scandal. Nixon illegally covered up a burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters.
She wrote her speech to inform others that a president should be impeached when his actions threaten the constitution as well as the people. Barbara’s primary audience in this speech is the chairman of the U.S House Judiciary Committee. The primary audience in this essay is consistent regardless of any other article having a similar topic.
The common belief is that Barbara has two secondary audiences. One is the entire committee and not just the chairman. The other secondary audience is the American populace. The media almost always misreport Jordan’s speeches.
Her impeachment speech comes at an appropriate time since rumors have started spreading about the president being involved in a scandal at Watergate. It is presented at a time when Congress is seeking to either impeach President Nixon or not. The civil rights movement is active, and there is a lot of dissent among the citizens.
Barbara Jordan will present her speech to the house judiciary committee on July 24, 1974. The whole claim of her speech is that the current president should be impeached because what he has done threatens both the people and also the U.S constitution. On May 9, 1974, the House Judiciary Committee will start a hearing for Richard Nixon for his role in trying to cover up the Watergate scandal. She first starts by stating why she feels so passionate about this topic.
She is one of the first African American women to be in Congress. Lester wrote that “we the people, I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation, and court decision, I have finally been included in us, the people” (19). She uses this statement to show her audience her passion for the U.S Constitution and the constituents and to show that she is just like them.
Jordan uses pathos in her speech to appeal to the emotional side of the audience. Her words also show that she has a plethora of knowledge about the constitution and the facts of impeachment. For example, Lester quotes, “A president is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the constitution” (19).
This gives Jordan credibility as someone who knows what she is talking about. Barbara uses ethos to draw the attention of the audience towards her opinion. This is proved by the fact that she cites some notable political figures like James Madison to boost her credibility with the audience.
Jordan also uses logos while presenting her speech. Faigley and Selzer quote her by writing that, “impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term high crimes and misdemeanors” (155). This is an example of how logos are used. She explains every misdemeanor that can induce impeachment and links it to every action that Nixon has done.
The speech by Barbara is very well formatted because she states all of President Nixon’s charges. She then backs them up with the definition of impeachment. Faigley and Selzer assert that “bylaws on when and why a president can be impeached” (155).
The style of Barbara Jordan’s speech is formal. The mediums that are used to get her speech out to the public are telecast reports and newspaper reporters. The audience benefits best from this medium of communication because it is better to hear precisely how a person felt about a topic, rather than read their thoughts and interpret their feelings.
Jordan’s speech falls into the genre of a political speech because the topic deals with the senior most political leader in the nation; the President of the United States. Additionally, she is a political figure giving a speech for her party at a political meeting.
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Faigley, Lester and Jack Selzer. A Little Argument, Ontario: Pearson Education, 2009. Print.
Lester, Helen. ATrue Story, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002. Print.
Williams, Joseph M. Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace, Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2009. Print.