Grimes Calls in the Big Guns, Warren descends upon KY to court labor vote

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A Massachusetts Liberal in rural Kentucky. Words you wouldn’t often find in the same sentence. But in the realm of politics anything is possible. On October 28,  Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren hit the campaign trail on behalf of Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes. Warren, a champion of populist liberal economic policies, gave Grimes her official stamp of approval on all matters labor.

Citing Grimes’s support for a higher minimum wage, Warren told crowd goers (many of whom are union members) that voting for Grimes come November is what will help save the middle class in America. The message seemed to resonate well at the event, which took place at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Many attendees seemed to approve of Warren’s endorsement and supported Grimes on her opposition to right to work legislation as well.

In 2013, a little over 10% of workers employed in Kentucky were union members according to a study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labor vote is without a doubt a deciding factor in Kentucky elections, especially with Democrats trying to pull as large of a turnout as possible among those loyal to the party. It can be said that Warren, a celebrity amongst labor Democrats around the country, helped excite the party base as expected.

 

Works Cited

“Trade-Union Organization and Membership in 1929.” Monthly Labor Review 30.2 (1930): 1-10. U.S. Department of Labor. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

Critical Essay #3: How Bush’s “Ultimatum to Iraq” Speech acts as evidence to the legitimacy of the rally phenomenon

The Iraq War is one of the most controversial military and foreign policy legacies of George W. Bush’s Presidency. Along with Vietnam, it also remains to be one of the most unpopular wars on record. At its lowest point of popularity, 64% of Americans disapproved of the war in October of 2006 (CNN). And in 2014, it was reported that 54% of Americans identified with the notion that intervening in Iraq was a mistake (Gallup). Interestingly enough a majority of the American public overwhelmingly supported the war in its initial onset. At its peak of popularity, 76% of Americans supported military intervention in Iraq during the beginning phases of war in March of 2003(Gallup). How is such a drastic change possible? It can be argued that “the rally phenomenon” where “in the aftermath of major foreign policy actions undertaken by the US government, people rally behind the President”, played a major role in such high approval initially for the war(Iyengar). A case could be made that the rally phenomenon is more the less a result of the rhetoric George W. Bush used in his “Ultimatum to Iraq Speech”. On the night Bush made this address, approval for the concept of the war jumped from the high 50s up to 66% approval(Gallup). Later that week, the number reached up to 76% as combat operations commenced. The numbers are hard to ignore: the speech made a difference in public perception. Why though? By objectively examining the mechanical and rhetorical construction of this speech, one is capable of fully uncovering the reason why the rally effect has such legitimacy as a concept. It is fair to say that the reason 76% of the American people supported military intervention in Iraq lies in Bush’s words.

Video of Speech: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr7OKqqTb_o

Text of Speech: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/mar/18/usa.iraq

On March 17. 2003 when Bush delivered his “Ultimatum to Iraq” America’s wounds from 9/11 were two years fresh. Fear of another terrorist attack and the stability of the Middle East were still of prime concern. A poll conducted in January 2003, two months before the war began, shed light on the fact that 50% public viewed an invasion of Iraq to be part of the ‘War on Terrorism” (Gallup). It is clear throughout the speech that Bush caters to such an understanding and uses it as the primary premise of grounds for American involvement in Iraq. For example Bush makes the claim early on in his speech that:

“The regime (in control of Iraq) has a history of reckless aggression in the Middle East. It has a deep hatred of America and our friends. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.”

By connecting Iraq and Al-Qaeda, though from a contemporary standpoint is questionable, Bush was able to appeal to American emotions on security concerns of terrorism in the post 9/11 era. He establishes Iraq as a threat by saying that they have strong relationships with terror organizations. Yet he does not end his argument there. He continues on saying:

“The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.”

The assertion (whether accurate or not) that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction is historically viewed as the foundation for the United States’ argument to invade Iraq. What should be taken into account when analyzing this speech from the perspective of that time, is that this linkage of a terrorist threat and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was extremely persuasive to the American people. In March 24-25 2003, only a few days after this speech, 79% of the American public claimed to be worried about a terrorist attack on the United States (Gallup). Paranoia was at its peak. The mere assertion that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction wasn’t simply the problem, the problem the Bush Administration claimed was that such weapons had the potential to fall into the hands of terrorists and threaten American lives.

To further his point, Bush dedicated a great deal of his speech to the notion of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. He characterized how the United States had just legal authority to insure such alleged weapons were destroyed, even if meant dismantling the Hussein regime by force. He begins this effort by addressing how in the past peaceful measures to address the issue have failed.

“The Iraqi regime has used diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage. It has uniformly defied Security Council resolutions demanding full disarmament. Over the years, U.N. weapon inspectors have been threatened by Iraqi officials, electronically bugged, and systematically deceived. Peaceful efforts to disarm the Iraqi regime have failed again and again — because we are not dealing with peaceful men. “

Bush further breathes legitimacy into his argument, by giving such information the “seal of approval” from not only the United States Intelligence apparatus, but the intelligence organizations of other nations.

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq’s neighbors and against Iraq’s people.”

By sanctioning the validity of such intelligence with the US government’s approval, Bush is in essence officially saying that such information is not speculation, it is fact. In hindsight, the validity of this information may be debated. However, to the American people watching this address in 2003, the President saying that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction per intelligence collected by the CIA was most likely enough to convince them of its truth.

With legitimacy established, Bush moves into the legal reasons why the United States may forcefully disarm Iraq, should Saddam Hussein not comply with this ultimatum. He once again makes the case for national security. 

“The United States of America has the sovereign authority to use force in assuring its own national security. That duty falls to me, as Commander-in-Chief, by the oath I have sworn, by the oath I will keep.

Recognizing the threat to our country, the United States Congress voted overwhelmingly last year to support the use of force against Iraq.”

In this statement, Bush affirms the United States existential right to protect her security in accordance with her authority as a sovereign nation. He also affirms that such actions have cleared the Constitutional internal processes that allow them to be legal under United States law. Following such an argument, he then moves on to appeal as to why this action is justifiable under International Law.

“In the case of Iraq, the Security Council did act, in the early 1990s. Under Resolutions 678 and 687 – both still in effect – the United States and our allies are authorized to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. This is not a question of authority, it is a question of will.

Last September, I went to the U.N. General Assembly and urged the nations of the world to unite and bring an end to this danger. On November 8, the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441, finding Iraq in material breach of its obligations, and vowing serious consequences if Iraq did not fully and immediately disarm.

Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed. And it will not disarm so long as Saddam Hussein holds power. For the last four-and-a-half months, the United States and our allies have worked within the Security Council to enforce that Council’s long-standing demands. Yet, some permanent members of the Security Council have publicly announced they will veto any resolution that compels the disarmament of Iraq. These governments share our assessment of the danger, but not our resolve to meet it. Many nations, however, do have the resolve and fortitude to act against this threat to peace, and a broad coalition is now gathering to enforce the just demands of the world. The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours.”

Though the speech continues and explores deeper philosophical themes, and also includes an appeal to the Iraqi military and people, Bush’s major arguments to persuade the American people end with his justification of the use of military force under International Law.

It is apparent, upon rhetorical analysis, that this speech was effective in persuading the American people to lend their support to the war. In terms of popularity, President Bush reached an approval rating of 71% after he delivered this famous address, his second highest instance of approval following 9/11 (Gallup). It is also clear from this speech that the rally phenomenon is not only real, but effective. The carefully constructed rhetoric of this speech galvanized the American public into supporting a war that would later become one of the most unpopular in US history. It gives merit to that fact that it is words, just as much as action, that have the ability to sway American public opinion in one direction or the other.

 

Works Cited

“Full Text: Bush’s Speech.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 17 Mar. 2003. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

“George W. Bush – Ultimatum to Saddam Hussein.” YouTube. YouTube, 19 June 2011. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

“Iraq.” Gallup.Com. Gallup, Inc., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Iyengar, Shanto. Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Print.

Newport, Frank. “Seventy-Two Percent of Americans Support War Against Iraq.” Seventy-Two Percent of Americans Support War Against Iraq. Gallup, Inc., 24 Mar. 2003. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

“Poll: Support for Iraq War at All-time Low.” CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Oct. 2006. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

“Presidential Approval Ratings — George W. Bush.” Gallup.Com. Gallup, Inc., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

“Terrorism in the United States.” Gallup.Com. Gallup, Inc., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

“War on Terrorism.” Gallup.Com. Gallup, Inc., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Polls show dead heat for US Senate races in the South

A list of recently conducted polls for United States Senate races across the South:

North Carolina (October 20):

Hagan- 47
Tills- 44
Polling Firm: PPP

Kentucky (October 17):

McConnell-52

Grimes-44

Polling Firm: Rasmusen Reports

Georgia (October 16):

Perdue- 45

Nunn-46

Polling Firm: WRBL/Ledger-Enquirer/PMB*

Arkansas (October 16):

Cotton-47

Pryor-44

Polling Firm: Rasmusen Reports

Louisiana (October 15):

Cassidy-52

Landrieu-43

Polling Firm: Rasmusen Reports

 

Grimes and McConnell throw down in KY Debate

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On Monday night the two Kentucky Senate candidates entered into a heated debate about the issues facing not only the state of Kentucky but the state of the nation. The primary focus being jobs.

McConnell, a beacon of Conservative resistance to the agenda of the Obama Administration, surprisingly began the night touting what he claimed to be a “bipartisan record” of reaching across the aisle and working with Vice President Joe Biden on a variety of issues. He further played to his experience as a veteran of the United States Senate and his commitment to Conservative values and principles that he feels best serve the interest of Kentucky. He was relentless in his attacks against Grimes, continuously trying to tie her to the unpopular Obama.

One issue that surfaced on several occasions was Grimes’s failure to acknowledge whether she voted for Obama in either 2008 or 2012.  An awkward exchange for Grimes with respects to both her Liberal base and more Conservative leaning undecided voters.

Grimes, on the other hand attacked McConnell as a “Washington Insider” who puts partisan interest above the good of the country and the good of Kentucky. She attributed his tactics to gridlock and lack of progress. She instead offered an agenda she claims would move things forward for Kentucky and the country.

Though there were no words unshared between the two, there was no clear winner of the debate either. The debate mimicked the same messages being hurled from both sides throughout the campaign. No major breakthroughs in terms of policy stances. Just more mudslinging as expected.

 

Grimes distances herself from Washington, Obama

Democrat Alison Grimes Campaigns Ahead Of Kentucky Primary

Alison Lundergan Grimes is a Democrat running in a state very skeptical about Washington, socially conservative, and very hostile towards President Obama. This has in turn resulted in an awkward tight rope walk for Grimes regarding several issues and how they correlate with the President’s own agenda and the platform of the National Democratic Party.

In an uncomfortable interview conducted Thursday between Lundergan Grimes and the Louisville Courier Journal, Grimes refused to answer whether she voted for President Obama or not. “You know, this election isn’t about the president. It’s about making sure we put Kentuckians back to work,” she stated.

Other awkward exchanges about her disagreement with the President on certain issues have not been uncommon. Though overall she supports the Affordable Care Act, Grimes has issued concern with certain aspects of the law; including the small business mandate. “There are 700,000 businesses in Kentucky and I am concerned that especially the smaller ones are overburdened,” Grimes is on record saying.

Even on certain touchy social issues, such as marriage equality, Grimes is hesitant to show enthusiastic support just to appeal to a liberal base. When the issue of whether the Supreme Court should strike down Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage came into question Grimes made the following statement ,” while I don’t believe any church should be forced to recognize anything that is inconsistent with their teachings, my husband and I have been married for seven years, and I believe others should have the opportunity to make that same commitment.”

Not the most vocal form of support, icy at best, yet still a very loose endorsement of the issue. Once again, for Grimes as it is for many other Democrats running for reelection in the South it’s a tight rope walk.

An October 4-October 7 Poll conducted by FOX puts McConnell in the lead by four percentage points: McConnell has support amongst 45% of those polled vs. Lundergan Grimes who has 41% support amongst those polled. The race remains close. All eyes remain on Kentucky.

Critical Essay 2: Examining the Effectiveness of 2 Landmark Presidential Speeches of the 20th Century

The art of speechmaking is a complex undertaking. Communicating a message to an audience is no simple task. Even more complex is the art of addressing a nation as the leader of the Free World. Presidential speeches are the highlights of history books. They capture America at some of her most pivotal moments and leaders at some of their most defining. In Media Politics speechmaking is characterized as “a relatively recent form of presidential leadership” (Iyengar). Nonetheless it is an important one. Communicating to the people, in order to gain their support and understanding for promoting policy initiatives, declarations of war, crisis management, and diplomatic efforts is a crucial pillar of governing a nation as a leader.

In order to deem what constitutes an effective speech, it is best to look at a two of the most famous Presidential speeches of the 20th century and examine them objectively. Below we will examine excerpts of two iconic speeches delivered by two of the greatest orator Presidents in United States history. We will examine these speeches and determine why they are effective in arousing a nation in two different historical contexts:

  1. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”- FDR (First Inaugural Address)

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amNpxQANk0M]

Text: http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered his famous First Inaugural Address in 1933, the country’s unemployment rate that year would reach a staggering 24.9%(). America’s economy was on its last leg and people were in desperate need for some form of hope. Roosevelt was elected on a promise to overhaul the government and the American economy with a primary mission of getting people back to work. In order to do this Roosevelt knew he would have to make his case before the American people and explain to them how he planned on resolving the crisis of the Great Depression. His first official interaction with the American people, his inaugural address, acted as Roosevelt’s sounding board on his plan to save the country.

Roosevelt sets the tone of his speech early on, supplying his audience with a needed voice of authority and confidence. He states,” this great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Once his tone of confidence is established, a clear ploy of both pathos and ethos, Roosevelt transitions his approach to one invoking primarily logos as he outlines his plan to deal with the problems at hand. He spearheads his initiative by outlining distinct steps to what must be done in order to combat the economic crisis there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency”.

While Roosevelt’s process of tackling the problem is based in logos, his identification of the moral flaws of what lies behind these structural problems is one rooted in emotion. He attacks the system of greed that caused the Depression and identifies it as what also must be overcome in order to revive the country through powerful appeals to pathos. Roosevelt states, the measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit…Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits.”

By utilizing the three major rhetorical devices logos, pathos, and ethos in his speech, Roosevelt embodies the essence of a strong and intelligent leader with a plan to overcome crisis. In one of America’s darkest times, Roosevelt was able to establish himself as a leader strong enough to overcome the challenges America faced simply through the power of his words.

  1. “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You, Ask What You Can Do for Your Country”- JFK (Inaugural Address)

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm6mX2gX8mo

Text: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=8032

John F. Kennedy entered his Presidency with a whirlwind of media attention. As the country shifted from radio to television as its primary form of media the handsome President and his attractive family catered perfectly to the cameras. But it was more than just looks that was behind such a sensation. Surrounding JFK was an aura of not only youth and celebrity but also hope. He was known to empower and inspire people through his impressive oratory skills at a time when the country needed such a leader to rally behind. America, the beacon of Western Democracy, was engaged in both an ideological and militarized Cold War against the Communist Soviet Union. People lived in a constant state of paranoia, fearing that civilization as they knew it could be destroyed in a matter of seconds due to a constant threat of nuclear war.

Kennedy recognizes this theme throughout his first and only Inaugural Address stating, The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” Kennedy sought to quell such paranoia, however, with a message of reassuring hope that American global leadership made strong by the values of American Democracy and through active participation of the American people in their democracy, would triumph at the end of the day by promoting peace and liberty around the globe. In line with such a message, Kennedy states , Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

At the same time Kennedy thought it possible that America could seek reconciliation with the Soviet Union on the grounds of human peace. In several instances during his address Kennedy outlines such a wish. He makes the following case,Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us… Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.”

Yet Kennedy reminds his audience that such a task is accomplished via a collective effort, an effort that originates from the people, and is made possible thanks to the beauty of the democratic system. Kennedy empowers his audience by challenging them to this call of contributing to not only the greater good of the country, but the greater good of the world. He states: In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

Kennedy’s strength as a leader much so derived from his strengths as a speaker. A visionary, he was able to inspire others to share his vision, and mobilize them into taking action and materializing the ideals he brought to life in his speeches. His only inaugural address is perhaps the best example of this, for many elements of his speech later materialized into action. During Kennedy’s short time in office the United States avoided all out nuclear war with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis thanks to Kennedy’s level head and ability to communicate. Also during his term, after inspiring many young Americans with his call to service in saying “ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country” thousands of Americans joined Kennedy’s Peace Corps in hopes of bettering the world. Other great strides later on in the decade, including American achievements in the Space Race and the passage of the Civil Rights Act also can be traced back to Kennedy’s visionary idealism first communicated in his Inaugural Address.

Both speeches, and for that matter both speakers, although different share a great deal in common. The first being that FDR and JFK were effective figures of hope because they inspired hope in others through their words. They lead through their words and their vision for a greater country by inspiring others to share such a vision and materialize it into a reality. They emulated strength by helping others find strength through unity as a nation. They embodied confidence by helping others find confidence in American Democracy and American values. Most of all, they successfully deployed rhetoric as a tool of leadership: not just as a form of communicating a message, but seeing to it that a message could transform a country into something greater than it was before. That in essence is effective rhetorical leadership. That is why, these two speeches are considered to be amongst the two greatest Presidential speeches in American history, and these two Presidents amongst the greatest speakers and leaders in history.

Works Cited

“Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You!” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. “F.D.R.’s First Inaugural Speech: Nothing to Fear.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

Iyengar, Shanto.Media Politics: A Citizen’s Guide. New York: W.W. Norton, 2011. Print. “”Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”:

FDR’s First Inaugural Address.” “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. “Unemployment Statistics during the Great Depression.”

Unemployment Statistics during the Great Depression. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. John F. Kennedy: “Inaugural Address,” January 20, 1961. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.