Political Argumentation and the Composite Audience: A Case Study – Response

This article is about how political figures address composite audiences.  Ernest Bevin’s speech addresses his audience using ethos, sympathy, and flattery. The speech demonstrates four different techniques for addressing the composite audience including: “‘inclusion of the part in the whole’”, ethos, allusion to fact, and use of metaphor to establish presence (Myers, 1999, p. 65-67). Techniques used by Bevin have also been utilized by other political figures such as Reagan and Clinton.

The purpose of this article was to give insight about “the methods employed to address a composite audience” in political communication through Ernest Bevin’s speech on “British policy toward Palestine” (Myers, 1999, p.58). This article showed that there is a need to identify the techniques necessary to successfully address a composite audience. The techniques found can be used by anyone who needs to address a composite audience.

I learned that it is possible to prove a big theory by focusing on just one artifact. This article looked at one speech that demonstrated the techniques necessary to address a composite audience. Then it showed most political speakers use those techniques.

The Abu Ghraib Images: ‘Breaks’ in a Dichotomous Frame- Response

 The authors discuss the Abu Ghraib images in relation to a frame break in the good versus evil explanation the Bush administration gave for employing military force in Iraq. A frame break is described as a “a disruption in the applicability of a frame and a corresponding disruption in the involvement of audiences caught up in the frame” (Smith & Dionisopoulos, 2008, p. 309). The frame break occurred in this situation when the Abu Ghraib photos of American soldiers happily torturing prisoners hit the media circuit.  The American soldiers were seen as “good” and the Iraqi prisoners were seen as “bad” until these pictures were publicized. The Iraq media portrayed all American soldiers as “bad” based off these pictures. The Bush administration fought back by explaining that these actions only represented one group of American soldiers and did not represent American soldiers as a whole.

The article showed that “dramatic changes within a situation can threaten to produce a ‘‘frame break’’—turning an effective frame into a constraint within which rhetors must labor to offer repair” through the publication of the Ghraib photos and the Bush administration’s response to them (Smith & Dionisopoulos, 2008, p. 310). This showed that Bush’s explanation for employing military force in Iraq was not longer efficient, so he had to work to change his explanation. The frame break was the publication of the pictures and the rhetor was the Bush administration.

I learned that dichotomous frames do not provide strong rhetorical explanations. These can easily challenged which makes the argument weak.  These types of arguments usually look at artifacts from either a black or white perspective and disregard the possibility of shades of grey. I learned to avoid dichotomous frames in my work for the future.

The Rhetoric of the True Believer- Response

The author examined the rhetorical relationship between a doctrinal group of speakers and found four different genres of rhetoric that make specific assumptions about the doctrinal group and give “the reader a flavor” of four other groups of speakers (Hart, 1971, p.250). The groups of speakers included doctrinal, quasi-doctrinal, organizational, uncommitted, and hostile (Hart, 1971, p. 250). Both ideational and linguistic analyses were performed on the speeches given by the speakers in the doctrinal group. The genres of rhetoric were divided into the four following groups: “indoctrinated listeners are counted on to make rhetorical contributions, doctrine defines the intellectual resources used by its spokesman, doctrine defines the rhetorical role of the speakers and doctrine defines the nature of the rhetorical relationship or bond maintained between doctrinal spokesman and this listeners” (Hart, 1971, p. 251).

The purpose of this study was “to suggest the rhetorical options available in certain speaker-audience configurations” (Hart, 1971, p. 250). This study suggested the types of rhetoric used by specific groups of speakers could be categorized and labeled. There may be a common method of rhetor used between similar speakers.

This article was different from other criticisms we have read because the study focused on a broad theory about the rhetor used by specific speakers instead of focusing on one piece of rhetoric. I found this article easier to read, but the points being made were not heavily supported.  I noticed a lot of assumptions were made with the disclaimer that they could have no validity.  I will probably not use this type of criticism in my own work, since I do not think this article made a strong argument.

Telling America’s Story: Narrative Form and the Reagan Presidency – Response

This article is about Regan and how he is perceived in two different ways regarding his ability to communicate.  Reagan communicates to his audience through stories that relate to the American dream. The people who applaud him buy into the American dream stories. The people who do not like him say he is just trapped in telling the story and he has no real points. His critics believe his policies have no credibility and all he cares about is the goal and how it fits into the American dream story.  There was never a discussion to plan how to get to the goal. The Iran contra crisis is discussed often to show this was the turning point where people starting doubting Regan’s ideas.

This article looked at the “distinctive reputation, style and effect of Ronald Reagan’s discourse by providing a consistent and sufficiently comprehensive explanation for the contradictory perceptions of his speaking for the related paradoxes of this ‘Great Communicator’s’ presidency”  (Lewis, 1987, p. 281).  This article showed that Reagan’s style of communicating was not sufficient because he was saying one thing and acting in different way during the Iran contra crisis.

I learned from this article that one piece of rhetoric can be used to help explain an entire phenomenon. Reagan’s credibility was diminished because of his actions and this article suggests an explanation for how he got that way using his response to the Iran contra crisis.