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The U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section III requires the President to give a regular State of the Union address. The address provides information on current state of the nation and recommendation on measures that need to be undertaken. The 1998 State of the Union address by Bill Clinton demonstrates how effective he was in analyzing his audience and delivering a persuasive message. This essay aims to identify logos, ethos, and pathos in the 1998 State of the Union address by President Clinton.

Logos is a subcategory of evidence that gives support for claims based on the speaker’s ability to think. They are rational appeals that are based on case studies, facts, statistics, logical reasoning, analogies, experiments, and anecdotes. According to Covino and Jolliffe (17), logos appeals to conventions, modes and patterns of reasoning in order to persuade and convince the audience. Clinton used several logos in his 1998 State of the Union address to persuade and convince the American people that his administration had accomplished a lot and that it was on track in implementing various policies. For instance, Clinton asserted that when he took office, the 1998 deficit was projected to be $357 billion, which was far much higher than the 1998 actual deficit projection of $10 billion. In this case, Clinton used statistics and analogy to persuade and convince his audience on the achievement of his administration. He used statistics by quoting the figures and analogy by comparing the previous projections and current projections. Clinton also utilized logos when he said that the Congress and the American people across the political divide had supported his policy on the need to prioritize education paving the way to the opening of 3,000 new charter schools. Here, Clinton utilized facts and statistics to provide evidence to his claim that his administration was prioritizing educational issues. President Clinton also used logos when he was outlining how he was going to address issues of social security. Clinton said:

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We will hold the White House conference on social security in December, and one year from now I will convene the leaders of Congress to craft historic bipartisan legislation to achieve a landmark for our generation, a social security system that is strong in the 21st century.

In this instance, the President utilized logical reasoning to provide evidence on how he was going to establish a strong social security system in the 21st century.

Pathos is a subcategory of evidence that gives support for claims by focusing on the audience’s feelings. Pathos involves use of emotional appeals. It appeals to higher emotions such as altruism and love and base emotions such as greed and lust. President Clinton evoked pathos when he said, “Though they sat on opposite sides of the aisle, Representatives Walter Capps and Sonny Bono Shared a deep love for this House and an unshakable commitment to improving the lives of all our people.” This statement evoked altruism and love emotions among the audience. The President used pathos to evoke sympathy among the audience for these dead persons (Oliverio 46). The President further evoked pathos when he said, “….we celebrate their lives and give thanks to their service to our nation.” This statement further evokes higher emotions of love for the dead men. President Clinton further said, “… America we have begun to build; this is the America we can leave to our children if we join together to finish the work at hand. Let us strengthen our Nation for the 21st century.” This excerpt also appeals to the higher emotions of American people. It evokes love for their country and the need to work hard. It also evokes altruism since it seems like Clinton was much concerned about the welfare of the future generation. Clinton also evoked pathos when he said that the leadership of America was unrivaled in the world and that their nation was strong. This evokes emotions of love for his country.

Ethos refers to a subcategory of evidence that gives support for claims by appealing to ethics. Ethos lays focus on the ability of people to trust those they find to be credible. Trustworthiness and credibility may emanate from an expert testimony, reliable sources, and fairness. President Clinton utilized ethos in various instances in the 1998 State of the Nation address. For instance, he said, “For 209 years, it has been the President’s duty to report to you on the State of the nation.” This statement was aimed at building ethos by reminding his audience that he was the President (Oliverio 46). The statement might have been motivated by Clinton’s need to let his audience know that whatever he was saying was credible and trustworthy. The President also evoked ethos when he said, “I will submit to Congress for 1999 the first balanced budget in 30 years. And if we hold fast to fiscal discipline, we may balance the budget this year, 4 years ahead of schedule.” These lines tend to provide credibility of Clinton’s assertion that his administration was working hard to reduce deficit and that this relied mainly on fiscal discipline.  The President in this excerpt states that the fiscal discipline will ensure delivery of a balanced budget.  Clinton also used ethos when he said,

…unholy axis of new threats from terrorists, international criminals and drug traffickers. These 21st century predators feed on technology and the free flow of information and ideas and people, and they will be all the more lethal if weapons of mass destruction fall into their hands.

In this excerpt Clinton provided evidence on why there was the need to have restriction on the construction of weapons of mass destruction. This was probably aimed at building trust among the American people and explaining why the government was putting in place policies that were to restrict the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the world. Clinton seems to be arguing that ‘savages’ use modern technologies to predate on innocent people and, if weapons of mass destruction are not restricted to trusted hands, the human race is endangered.

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