George W Bush 9/11 Speech Rhetorical Analysis

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President George W. Bush's Public Address to the Nation on the Terrorist Attacks on 9/11

Overview and Description of the Speech

After the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S, President George W. Bush publicly addressed the nation regarding the facts surrounding the attacks. The speech was a short public televised address delivered the same day from the Oval Office, in the White House in Washington, D.C. The president was addressing the U.S citizens because more than two thousand people had lost their lives in the attack that is presumably the most significant terrorist attack that has ever occurred on American soil. George W. Bush had to make a speech because the attack would to some extent define his presidency as it occurred one year after he was elected as the U.S president.


Historically, George W. Bush public speech followed a terror attack that happened on September 11, 2001 where al-Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and carried out suicide attacks against targets in America. As the president of the U.S by that time, George W. Bush had to respond by declaring that although terrorist attacks can shake the foundation of America’s biggest building, they cannot touch the country’s foundation. George W. Bush's response to the September 11, 2001 terror attacks not only showcased his leadership but also highlighted his adept use of rhetoric to reassure the nation, emphasizing that while the physical structures may have been targeted, the indomitable spirit of America remains unshaken.

The major audience of George W. Bush's speech was the American citizens and everybody who was in America, by assuring them of their security against terrorism. Moreover, the extremists themselves are also the audience to the president’s speech, as he was given a stun warning to fight tirelessly against them. In the speech, he says:

The search is underway for those who were behind these evil acts. I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them (Eidenmuller, 2017).

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George W. Bush’s structure of the speech is simple and puts the audience, the occasion, and the speaker together. According to Brummett (2017), there are variety of strategies that a speaker can use to meet the need of the audience at the event, which can be summarized into three rhetorical appeals including pathos, logos and ethos. George W. Bush electively uses these appeals to achieve his persuasive goal through his choice of genre, the ability to create self and audience as well as the use of visual imagery animate the September 11, 2001 occasion. These speech strategies crafted his authority to dominate the public opinion and interpretation of the event. President Bush uses factual information almost to the point to sound disconnected and distant. He uses this austere body language and sober monotone tone to convey the magnitude of the tragedy and mark the pavement to the path to follow, but it reads almost detached. He speaks about sadness and anger, but the emotions seemed to be missing from his delivery. The ending of the speech reinforces this idea as President Bush uses a traditional generic ending associated with speeches given by members in office: “Thank you. Good night. And God bless America.”

Brummett (2017) defines metonymization as the use of lexical item to evoke the sense of something that is totally not connected to the particular lexical items used. Bush metonymize his speech on the terrorists attacks by making reference to each life lost during the 9/11 attack, and using that as an argument for action making subtle policy proposals.


President George W. Bush speech was in several perspectives functioning to change the opinion of the audience, in other ways it was coercive, some of his thoughts and actions were contrary to the American democratic norms. However, he ended the speech with a favorable policy to the U.S people and it was comforting, supported by his quotation of a Bible passage in the context of the event to ease the situation. In this way, the president’s purpose for the speech was achieved.


In the conclusion, President Bush’s speech on the terrorists attacks was done in a quick manner and the quick response, as I have learned from the speech, was all aimed to assure the security of Americans. At least the speech was moving because the president recognized the importance of those who were killed, he sympathized with them as a show of humanity. I have learned that the president wanted to support extant public sentiment mainly through his arguments.


  1. Brummett, B. (2017). Rhetoric in popular culture (5th Ed,). Sage Publications.
  2. Eidenmuller, M. E. (2017). George W. Bush: 9/11 Address to the Nation. Retrieved from
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George W Bush 9/11 Speech Rhetorical Analysis. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
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