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Our Future Will Be Better Because of Our Actions Today: Rhetorical Analysis of Laura Bush's Republican National Convention

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Former First lady and wife of George Bush Laura Bush's address to the Republican National Convention and the entire American public is, at least at first glance, a persuasive piece intended to convince the Americans to reelect her husband, George W. Bush, to another four year term and president of the United States. Upon closer reading, however, the critical reader will see that Bush's argument is, in fact, emotionally abundant and factually limited. The emphasis on emotional support easily overwhelms the reader, or in this case, listener, creating an ideal situation to make an important decision regardless of insufficient knowledge.

The primary rhetorical aim here is not to bombard American voters with information on a political candidate and express why they deserve the vote above their opponent, but rather to create a tone that will invite all Americans to become a part of the Bush family by seeing him, not as a politician but, as another American, with a typical American family, typical American concerns, and typical American emotions to explain to the audience why George, the man, the father and the husband, not George the president, should be elected as President. In this sense, Bush is putting a familiar, friendly spin on a situation that, otherwise, would consist of people who will tell you anything to get our vote, establishing rapport and trust in American voters. Bush, keeping in mind that she is not a politician but, rather, a wife, a mother, and an American citizen, equalizes herself as one of "us" in order to better relate with her audience while maintaining her purpose, ensure her husband's reelection. Through the use of simple language, as well as sentence structure, strategic shift of connotative and denotative writing, alluding historical events and suggesting analogies between her husband and historical figures, paired with her obvious relationship with the president, Bush ultimately delivers a supportive speech that may cause, even the most resistant Bush critic, to reconsider or, in the very least, gain a better understanding of George Bush.

First, it is important to understand Laura's role or position and how it plays into her argument. In order to establish her position, Laura varies between referring to President Bush as, "my husband," George, and "the president." In doing so, it makes Laura and the Bush family relatable to a wide variety of American voters, not just one particular group. When she refers to him as her husband, it establishes her as a mother and wife appealing to family oriented Americans who value and respect the family dynamic and, more importantly, American women, who are often under represented and commonly overlooked by politics. This also builds her credibility by letting us know that she is his wife, she knows him very well, she knows him on a personal level and, based on what she knows, she still trusts him and has still decided to commit to spend the rest of her life with him. Supported when she says, "Tonight, I want to try to answer the question that I believe many people would ask me if we sat down for a cup of coffee or ran into each other at the store: You know him better than anyone, you've seen things no one else has seen, why do you think we should re-elect your husband as president?" Enforcing that, because of the nature and longevity of their relationship, her opinion on his is important because she knows him best. When she refers to him as George, it serves to create a sense distance between her and President Bush, serving as a way to make her appear more credible while delivering a sense of familiarity between the American public and their president in implying that we can refer to him on a first name basis, as one would a friend. To maintain the sense of "friends," Laura invites the public into her life and the life of her family. "Our lives have been enriched by meeting so many of our fellow Americans. We've visited your communities. We have witnessed your decency, kindness and character," she says. Humbled by her situation and honored to have been chosen among all the ordinary American families. And her pleasure in being able to meet so many people, instead of, as many would expect, placing herself and her family on a pedestal and feeling that the public should feel honored by their presence. When she refers to him as a "the president" she is removing any personal relationship between her and her husband as to portray to Americans that she, like us, is an American who cares about her country and, still trust this man, this president, to serve as our leader for another four years.

Even though it is not a direct statement how does one gather that, ultimately, Laura wants us to reelect her husband? We must first ask ourselves whether or not Bush is actually even putting forth an argument. Is Bush presenting us with one of two options or is she dictating that her husband's reelection is the only correct choice. Either we reelect George W. Bush or the future of our country, or more importantly, the "future for our children and grandchildren" is in danger. Are none of the other candidates capable of doing the same, if not a better, job? Or is she simply saying that it's the Bush way or no way? Does Laura's address make it clear that there are other options and that it is entirely up to us to agree with her or not?

Bush's use of simple language and sentence structure are particularly important to her attempt to establish the Bush family as just another American family and dethatch themselves from the stereotypes and preconceived notions of status and politicians. Given that excessive rhetoric is typical of political speeches, it was imperative to her purpose to refrain from utilizing even the most subtle of political speech tactics. With that, Laura ensures the reader that she has no political agenda and, genuinely, wants us to get to know her husband as a person and elect him for his characteristics as a concerned patriot. Laura says, "And I want to thank everybody here tonight. Thank you all very much



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