Monday, April 12, 2010

Week 10: Closing the Deal

President John F. Kennedy gave this speech at Rice University in 1962.

32 comments:

PETE said...

A few quick observations:
- The first thing I thought about was how inspiring the speech was. In my opinion, we don't seem to hear speeches like that anymore. The last time I remember being inspired from what a Pres said was when W stood next to a crowd of rescue workers on Ground Zero and gave the "I can hear you" bit.

- Did anyone else notice the guy right behind JFK that could not seem to sit still? First he was wiping his sweat. Then he was looking around. THEN, he starts smoking!

I'm going to attempt to correctly identify ethos, pathos, and logos in his speech.

ETHOS:
*JFK spent time complimenting Rice and TX.
*He started out putting himself in the role of "professor" giving a short lecture to his students. I think that set the tone for the audience. It told them that he was going to teach them about an important topic. It told them to open their minds and pay attention. It also lent to his credibility as a speaker.
*He spent time outlining the advancement of technology and growth by listing significant inventions and discoveries. I think this showed the audience his knowledge and gave them reason to trust what he was saying.

LOGOS:
* "Space can be explored and mastered. * * * Why the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may ask, why climb the highest mountain? Why, thirty-five years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why have Rice play Texas?" This is just one example of JFK's persuasion through emotional appeal. Throughout the speech, he spoke of the challenge and sacrifice involved in space exploration, but he persuades the people to support this effort by speaking of past, inspiring achievements.
*Compared the price tag with what America pays for cigarettes and cigars each year. He even broke it down to $0.40/person.

PATHOS:
*JFK described the rockets used, the types of alloys that were to be used, and what resources would be used to make the mission successful. He described what it would be like for the shuttle to travel to space and return. He gave details such as the temp. and speed.
*JFK went through a history of substantial achievements and discoveries.
*Gave the story of George Mallory- a man who climbed Mt. Everest "b/c it was there."

David Henry said...

Before I get into the meat and bones of my discussion of this JFK speech, I wanted to point out that kinda struck me as a little humorous. When he is describing to the American people precisely how the United States is going to send a man to the moon, he starts describing the vessel that will do the job, and he says something along the lines of it being made out of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented. Maybe that was what his reference to this being an act of faith and vision was referring to ;)

While I have seen or listened to many JFK addresses, I had not actually heard this one before. I didn't really know what to expect, so my initial mission was to figure out what the point was, or what he was trying to convince the audience of. Fortunately for me, in this speech it didn't take long because he came right out and said it. He was trying to get the American people to support the US government's efforts in the space race.

As far as early ethos goes, I like how he acknowledged all of the important people that were at the event, showing his respect to them. He also showed humility for him being invited as the speaker. I noticed that he kept doing little things also to compliment the audience without directly complimenting them. For instance, he said he was thankful to be at this great college, in this wonderful city, in this amazing state, or something to that effect. It seems that all of these things are playing into the whole idea of connecting with your audience and seeking their good will. He does a very good job of this throughout the entire speech by praising how far and how fast the United States has been progressing also.

I am going to discuss logos and pathos together here because I felt like they were really interconnected in this speech. I was really intrigued by the different arguments that he put forward as to why the US wining the space race was so critical. While he did a great job of this, I am not the hugest fan of some of the methods he employed. I don't particularly care for the justification of government action based on fear. It seems to be somewhat prevalent in this day and age, much like it was back then. He essentially said that the soviets were trying to get into space and use it for evil purposes. He said that we are behind in the race. He compared space science to nuclear science in that it has no conscience of its own and could be used for good or bad. He said that we as Americans should refuse to look up to the sky and see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest. That was all fine and good, but then he said it. The phrase that has dominated so much of news over the last decade. He said that we don't want to see space defiled with weapons of mass destruction. It seems that, even back then, if you want to get americans on your side, start talking about weapons of mass destruction because that gets them everytime.

---Break due to character limit

David Henry said...

Continued

I liked his other arguments better that man has been progressing so fast and this is the next logical step. I thought it was very inspiring when he responded to those who would question why the moon. Why climb the highest mountain? Why fly across the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon!!

I also liked it when he said that man's progress is determined and cant be deterred, and that even if the US doesn't do this, it would still go on. He said that our country needed to be a part of this, needed to lead it.

Then there was the justification that this would create demand in investment and skilled labor. I thought that was a great incentive for Americans to back this program. This appealed to their sense of greater good a bit I think. He also targeted this when he said we needed to move forward for the progress of all and for the good of all mankind. I think when he said for the good of all man, he really probably meant for the good of all Americans.

I cringed when he started talking about how much this all would cost and started to justify those costs. I was very interested to see how he was going to handle this, but I thought he did a good job by minimizing the amount and pointing out that it was less than americans spent on cigarettes and cigars each year. He also went on to point out that this was an act of faith and vision, and appealed to their patriotism by saying that this was going to be a great national effort.

He closed by asking for God's blessing.

Luke Lawrence said...

This was a very inspiring speech. JFK was a very talented speaker, and that comes out very clearly in this speech. The elements of ethos, pathos, and logos are all very clear in this speech, and he incorporated many other elements we have talked about in class as well.

JFK was already known to everyone there as the President of the United States, but he also used his introduction to establish his character, and why the people should listen to him. He talked about being invited as an honorary professor, and kept it all very short – just enough to introduce his audience to him, and move on to the meat of the speech.

Pathos came up throughout the speech. He talked about what America has done – her leadership and innovation in the past. He made a moral appeal – that America was working for peace and the good of all mankind. He even incorporated something very familiar to everyone in that stadium when he asked “why does Rice play Texas?”

The Logos of the speech was also very clear. America will beat Soviets to the moon, we will establish peace in space, we will regain leadership in industry and science. He wanted his audience to feel hope and inspiration, to believe that America could and would be the fist to the moon, and he wanted them to unite behind the space program and support the new expansions.

I also liked how JFK used simple words, but power phrases, like, “We do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” He also used familiar comparisons to show the power of the rocket and how big it was. I also liked how he put the space budget into perspective – it was less than was spent each ear on cigarettes and cigars.

I do not remember hearing about the launch to Venus – it sounds very interesting, and helped with the sense of hope and direction that the speech was trying to create, by showing what we had already done.

Anonymous said...

I know several of my colleagues have pointed this out already, but when JFK immediately appeals to the American people as a professor and not the President of the United States he set the tone for the audience. In class we were told to pay close attention to that first line, and I can see why. It was brilliant. By making himself the lecturer and the public the students, JFK maintained his status as the more sophisticated party, but put the public in a situation in which they could relate. Even better, it tied into his overall theme that exploration is an innate desire at the very heart of man.

JFK appeals to us that this is man’s desire. We are explorers, builders discoverers. He points out that we build large buildings, invent printing presses and steam engines, and climb mountains like Everest. He says that Rice is noted for knowledge. Houston is noted for progress, and Texas for its strength. Further, “we stand in need of all three”. This is our human spirit. We are strong, we progress, and we thirst to know more. Even if the U.S. didn’t try to explore space, the race to the moon would carry on. It is ingrained in our DNA so why shouldn’t our government get involved? Without ever saying that “the government exists to serve its citizens” he conveys that very thought. What we learn is space has helped us progress as a society. JFK points out advanced weather warning systems and the like. Somehow, I think he knew the countless inventions that would come from NASA over the years.

Finally, as I listened, I couldn’t help but think about the many friends I have in Houston who have lost jobs because of the NASA cutbacks and the astronaut I know who will never go into space because of our most recent recession. As JFK pointed out the costs of space exploration, I thought of a comment I made to my fiancée just weeks ago. “I feel bad for my friends whose families work for NASA”, I told her, “but I understand our government’s point. Do you know how much it costs to send a shuttle into space? We could really be putting that money to better use.” I thought I knew what I was talking about then… now I’m not so sure. I was not JFK’s intended audience. Today’s world was not his intended setting. But as we’ve seen in Aristotle persuasion remains persuasive for a very long time. Some characteristics of humanity withstand the test of time. I think exploration is one of them.

John said...

I'm not sure why, my comment was published as anonymous. My computer says I’m signed in. Anyway,the last comment was mine - John Litzler

Cheryl Blount said...

I have never heard this JFK address before, and I really enjoyed watching it, especially since all the things he hoped for have come true. I thought he did a great job of turning fear into hope, as you said in class. These are also a few observations that I made.
- I thought it was a great tactic to condense history of man into 50 years. Instead of using the actual dates, which would get ridiculously boring, he put it in terms where it kept the audience's attention and gave new perspective to the subject.
- Relating the good with the bad was also a good method to turn fear into hope. He would always precede anything negative with something positive, which made the unknown a little less startling.
- I also thought he did a great job relating to his audience. Besides the introduction, he would never just say "the nation," but would always include Houston and Texas as well. Additionally, when he was talking about people questioning space exploration, he stated that some might ask "Why does Rice play Texas?"
- Besides relating to the audience, he also related his audience to the past. In saying that the people that have lived before made effort to always "be the first," this gave Americans more hope and ambition. Additionally, he made many references to the fact that our space program is already more advanced, which gave confidence to the American people that we could actually go to the moon.
- I also liked how he was truthful about the budget being spent on space exploration. But on the same note, it was extremely effective to compare that amount with the money spent on cigarettes and cigars. That really put it in perspective.
- Lastly, I thought it was also a great tactic to state how space exploration would benefit everyone through more knowledge and jobs, etc. This gave the American people justification for why we would even do it in the first place.
Overall, I thought it was very moving. I really noticed that his choice of words were very simple and concise, which proved for a very effective speech.

April Holland said...

Overall I felt JFK’s speech was not only inspiring, but also encouraging. In a time when people feared the unknown of what would happen with space and the Soviet Union, I thought that JFK addressed this fear head on and put it to rest in people. He began his speech by acknowledging where he was speaking and then using certain observations he had made in order to connect with his audience and establish his credibility. For example, he says, “We meet at a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, and in a state noted for strength…” Moreover, throughout the entire speech he does not focus on “you,” but rather “we.” This provided for a sense of community in that we all share in this strife and vision to go to the moon. I liked how JFK illustrated how past inventions and discoveries over the last 50,000 years of recorded history would have been made if they were to occur in a 50-year time frame in order to demonstrate the speed at which growth and progress had taken place. By using this illustration, people were able to connect with what JFK was saying by having a reference point to show how quickly advances had come. It seems to have more “meat” and effectiveness then simply saying we have come along way in the last 50 years. I noticed how JFK brought his audience in when he said, “Why does Rice play Texas?” Even if people were wiping their sweat off constantly during the speech and probably thinking when is this going to be over, I can bet that as soon as JFK mentioned college sports, people zoned back into what he was saying. I also noticed his tone and inflection in his voice as well as his use of pauses. When JFK wanted to make an important point his tone would build. It made it as if the momentum of the speech was building. Then, he gave a pause to allow the audience to react and let what he just said to sink in. When rallying his audience to get behind the space program, he focused more so on the benefits such as creation of new jobs, technological advances, and new educational methods. In order to address the costs of the space program instead of upsetting people by saying their taxes were going to rise, I thought JFK implemented an effective tool to capture the audience and appeal to their emotions. He went through a vivid description of a mission to the moon and then said in order to do this, “We need to do it right, do it first, and we must be bold.” Moreover, he broke the numbers down by comparing the costs to a pack of cigarettes so it would seem like the costs to each person was minimal. He is calling the American people to action to support the expansion of the space program and be an active participant in order promote technological advances in science, peace in space, and be a leader at the frontier in space.

Ashley Yearick said...

Right off the bat JFK started by establishing ethos with the audience. First, he recognized and thanked the distinguished members of the audience, as well as the crowd, for being there with him. He then established his reason for being there, as an invited honorary visiting professor, and told the audience he was “delighted” to be there for this “specific occasion”, thus communicating his own feelings and recognizing the specific occasion of the day. The best part of his introduction however was towards the end when he talked about being at a “college noted for knowledge”, in a “city noted for progress” and a “state noted for strength.” Knowing first hand that the people in the state of Texas are a proud bunch, I don’t think he could have done a better job at ingratiating himself with the audience. The instant feeling I had almost 60 years later listening to that on my Dell laptop was PRIDE. I can only imagine how the audience felt back then.

After the quick introduction, I liked how JFK moved into the meat of his argument, or the logos. One of the things that I have mixed feelings about was the attempt to boil down the last 50,000 years of mankind into 50 years. I completely understood where he was going, and it was an interesting and creative idea, but there were points where I definitely could feel my heart beating faster and myself fighting the urge to scream “Slow down!!” Penicillin was invented last week? Nuclear power this morning?!? My god, what is next?? When he was running through this bit, the only emotion I felt was fear, and I’m not sure that was the intended reaction.

I think what saved this portion of the speech for me was the almost immediate movement into a discussion of American history, where we came from, what we have done in the last 200 years and how we have become the great nation we are today. JFK specifically talked about how “those that came before us made sure we rode the first waves” and that “this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash.” At this point, I had goose bumps. Not only had he tied us to the great Americans who came before us and paved the way, but he talked about “this generation” not being the one to stop it. Shoot, I’m not going to be the one to mess up American history…full speed ahead!! I thought this was an excellent appeal to the emotions of the audience, and our common experience as proud Americans. “We intend to be first.” “We choose to do these things not because they are easy but because they are hard.” There is no denying the power of groupthink.

I also really liked how JFK, after talking about how the ships were going to be built and how the space program was going to affect other industries, went back to talking about the people of Houston and how the space program was going to impact them. “Your city of Houston…will become the heart of a large scientific and engineering community.” The strategically placed use of “your” was very powerful allowing the audience to claim ownership of the program. This was an excellent use of ethos.

I thought the conclusion was one of the weaker parts of the speech. While JFK did make a joke that sort of got the audience laughing, he finished with “we are going to explore space because it is there…” That to me is one of the worst reasons to embark on an extremely dangerous, expensive and controversial mission, and definitely not where I would have ended the speech.

Overall though, it is clear that JFK was a very talented speaker and that his speeches were superbly written. There were so many moments where I thought he had used an excellent transition or the perfect phrasing. He used “we” at all the right times and “your” when he wanted to make it the audience’s own. Most importantly, he established a connection with the audience that he held onto from start to finish.

John Brennan said...

The thing that struck me was the way JFK went through the names and then was humble about being able to speak there. Also, while starting with optimism about how far mankind has come and how science is rapidly expanding, he still made a point that we can't think too much of ourselves because every advancement shows past and current flaws.

I like how JFK made the history and progress interesting by breaking it down as though it happened in the past 50 years and to highlight that in so little time, everything has become more advanced.

I thought it was interesting that JFK started one line with Houston, then expanded to Texas, and then to the US. It seemed like a great follow up to the point he made of how little we are in the ultimate picture.

Everything was very patriotic. While saying we have to get to the moon to beat the USSR, it was still a message of helping humanity as a whole.

I thought it was hilarious "why does Rice play Texas" was thrown in there to further connect with the crowd after listing all these important events.

Everything in the speech was made to tie the goals of the country with each citizen. While JFK was giving his agenda, he made it sound as though it was what everyone wanted.

The description of the rockets was great in that JFK described the size in terms of things most people could relate to like a city block.

I think JFK did a great job at telling what he wanted and why the rest of the US should want it. Also, I think he was hinting at future cooperation with other countries by pointing out that it was a mission of mankind, not just America.

Jennifer Salim said...

If JFK’s introduction isn’t the ultimate, “Happy City,” I don’t know what is! Here we have the President of the United States starting his speech by showing seemingly sincere humility. He thanks the president of Rice for making him “an honorary visiting professor” and then praises Rice as being a college “noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state known for strength.” Such a small act, but so effective in immediately establishing a connection with his audience and the tone that this is a situation that demands more knowledge, progress, and strength.

Next it hit me how he was speaking to an issue of great gravity that should have been daunting, but instead, it was inspiring. After buttering up his audience, he offered an inspiring challenge. When JFK said, “the greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds” I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be ignorant! Tell me what to do to fix it!”

One problem with political speeches is that they often lack substance behind big sayings like the one above. Sure, the words sound great, but the speaker leaves you with no means of acting and thus, fails. Kennedy avoided that. He painted a vivid visual of our progression “condensed to 50 years” and an even more vivid picture of placing “good” in space as a means to bar “evil.” Only after he had related to the audience, built them up, inspired hope, and painted a vivid picture did he ask for them to act-not that we really have a choice to pay taxes, but it helps to have public support.

It wasn’t until minute 12 I really felt the weight of his speech. He said, “To be sure, we are behind and will be behind for some time, but we do not intend to stay behind and in this decade, we shall move up and move ahead.” He followed that with some pretty heavy numbers, “…this is a big budget, 8 times more than the last 3 years combined, a staggering sum, but less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars. Will be up to 50 cents per person per week.” By the time he got to how it affected the taxpayer, he had so appealed to the audience through ethos and logos, I was ready to do whatever needed to be done, even if that meant raising my own taxes. It was logical: he seemed to know science so that his call to action seemed like the necessary step, and he had so appealed to my emotion that I believed his program was necessary to save the country from the “evils of lagging behind” in such a crucial area of technology.

Jennifer Salim said...

If JFK’s introduction isn’t the ultimate, “Happy City,” I don’t know what is! Here we have the President of the United States starting his speech by showing seemingly sincere humility. He thanks the president of Rice for making him “an honorary visiting professor” and then praises Rice as being a college “noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state known for strength.” Such a small act, but so effective in immediately establishing a connection with his audience and the tone that this is a situation that demands more knowledge, progress, and strength.

Next it hit me how he was speaking to an issue of great gravity that should have been daunting, but instead, it was inspiring. After buttering up his audience, he offered an inspiring challenge. When JFK said, “the greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds” I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be ignorant! Tell me what to do to fix it!”

One problem with political speeches is that they often lack substance behind big sayings like the one above. Sure, the words sound great, but the speaker leaves you with no means of acting and thus, fails. Kennedy avoided that. He painted a vivid visual of our progression “condensed to 50 years” and an even more vivid picture of placing “good” in space as a means to bar “evil.” Only after he had related to the audience, built them up, inspired hope, and painted a vivid picture did he ask for them to act-not that we really have a choice to pay taxes, but it helps to have public support.

It wasn’t until minute 12 I really felt the weight of his speech. He said, “To be sure, we are behind and will be behind for some time, but we do not intend to stay behind and in this decade, we shall move up and move ahead.” He followed that with some pretty heavy numbers, “…this is a big budget, 8 times more than the last 3 years combined, a staggering sum, but less than we pay for cigarettes and cigars. Will be up to 50 cents per person per week.” By the time he got to how it affected the taxpayer, he had so appealed to the audience through ethos and logos, I was ready to do whatever needed to be done, even if that meant raising my own taxes. It was logical: he seemed to know science so that his call to action seemed logical and he had so appealed to my emotion that I believed his program was necessary to save the country from the “evils of lagging behind” in such a crucial area of technology.

Catherine Hoyer said...

I am actually in Houston as I listen to this speech and blog about it. My first reaction after listening to the speech is the incredible job that JFK did connecting with the audience. I am someone who has only recently gained a connection to Houston. My husband lives and works in Houston, but before marrying my husband, I had no real connection to the city. And even now, I am only really here on school breaks. However, while listening to the speech I felt pride regarding the part that Houston played in space exploration. JFK made me feel like, even with my small connection to Houston, that I am a part of something huge, something world changing.
I think that this connection he created with the audience goes towards both his ethos and pathos. As for ethos, he didn’t make the speech about him and who he was and what HE was accomplishing. Instead, he made it about the audience. And I think that created credibility. He wasn’t some outside speaker who, as President, obviously had something to teach the audience. Instead, he took a role of humility, and almost acted as if the audience had something to teach him.

As for pathos, by building pride in the audience, JFK gave the audience a reason to want to dream big, to want to accomplish the impossible. If space exploration succeeded, JFK made the audience feel as if THEY had succeeded. JFK also tied space exploration into America’s history. It said that going the moon was a fulfillment of the vows of our nation. Once again, making the audience feel as if they were a part of something much larger than themselves, or even larger than getting to the moon. Finally, JFK told the audience that America had the chance to decide how space would be used. This put a moral obligation into the speech. Going to space suddenly wasn’t just about winning a race, it was about changing the future, about stopping wars, about creating peace.

I also saw a lot of logos in the speech. JFK started the speech by creating a very unique time line and explaining the huge amounts of progress that had been made in technology in a very short amount of time. This time line set the stage for his speech. JFK would talk about how America needed to create alloys in order to get the moon. To me, creating an alloy seems like a rather impossible task. But by hearing at the beginning of the speech how quickly technology was moving, I became much more likely to believe that alloys could be created. Also, before talking about the huge amount of money that the program would cost, JFK spends a good deal of time talking about how the program will specifically benefit Houston. I think the audience became much more likely to accept the amount of money after hearing the benefits it would have to them personally.

Kim Gee said...

Overall I thought President Kennedy’s speech was well tailored and well written for the audience he was addressing and the goal he wanted to accomplish. Kennedy actually had two audiences- the audience standing before him and behind him at Rice University, and the rest of the American people. I think he did a good job addressing both of them. He started his speech off by recognizing Rice University, the city of Houston, and then the state of Texas, but then he addressed the nation as a whole. However, even though he was mainly addressing the nation, he would drop references to Rice or Houston into the speech all the way till the very end. I think this was a good use of ethos and that he connected well with the audience immediately before him.

I think Kennedy combined ethos and pathos in order to connect with his national audience. He tried to create a great sense of nationalism, and in doing so he grouped himself with his audience. Kennedy talked about the space program and its advances like something America had to do together as a nation. He said that the nation had to succeed so that peace could succeed and so the new technology would be used for good and not evil. In saying this he created a very strong sense of unity among his listeners. His listeners probably felt like they were all standing united with Kennedy as Americans, and that they were in some way fighting for the good of all mankind. The sense of nationalism created by Kennedy was both ethos and pathos. It helped his audience to trust him and identify with him as a fellow American, and it also instilled a sense of oneness and unity in them. This nationalistic feeling is what Kennedy needed to build in order to help him obtain his goal.

Kennedy’s goal throughout the speech was to gain support for the space program. He was trying to gain national support for the increase in money he was going to spend on the program, and also for the increase in taxes that would result. His goal was not clear at first, which was I think part of the logos of his speech. He was very careful to get his audience excited about the program and about succeeding as a nation before he ever talked about financial support. In fact, he didn’t start talking about money until about 15 minutes into the 17 minute speech. When he finally addressed the increase in spending and told the public exactly how much more per week they would be spending on the space program per individual, the audience cheered. I found this fascinating- that he gave a speech aimed at raising taxes, and when he finally asked the audience to support increased spending and increased taxes, they applauded and cheered. I think this would be very hard to do today. I don’t think Kennedy could have gotten quite the same reaction if he hadn’t structured his speech exactly the way he did.

Although I really enjoyed Kennedy’s speech overall, there was one part I would have done differently. I would not have boiled down all of human history into 50 years. Kennedy probably tried to do this to simplify history for his audience, or to make them get a better sense of how quickly technology and science are developing. I wouldn’t have done this because I think that it was slightly more confusing than just giving the real dates.

Travis Phillips said...

My thoughts on Kennedy’s excellent speech echo much of what has already been said. I think that the internal structure of the argument, built around Kennedy’s fifty-year timeline, is very rational and chronological, very easy for an audience to follow. However, I do not believe that the logos of the speech was aimed at supporting an appeal to hope or to the future, as was the case with the ethos and pathos of the speech. Rather, I think the logos of the argument was aimed at grounding the appeal to hope in a sense of reality. Where much of the speech focused on an emotional appeal to the future, to a new frontier of science and technology, the logical structure instead argued, as a counterpoint, that so fantastic an achievement as reaching the moon was not that fabulous, was not that far out of reach, but instead was just around the corner, hours away, a logical culmination of humanity’s past and accelerating achievements. That is vitally important because it substantiates the speech’s tone of optimism and progress and lays the foundation for Kennedy’s discussion of facilities and moral quandaries to be more than merely hypothetical. It emphasizes that reaching the moon is not just something for the future, but something that will begin that day.

As to ethos, I believe that, internal to the speech, Kennedy’s primary source of credence is his reference to past technological and scientific achievement—it helps him to appear as someone knowledgeable, and therefore trustworthy, about what he is saying. However, as obvious as it is, I think it bears mentioning that Kennedy’s primary source of credence in this speech is his position as President of the United States. It would be a fine speech if presented by a scientist, or a senator, or anyone else. However, it means something more, stronger and with a much greater impetus, when the most powerful person in the world says, at the height of the cold war, that tomorrow science fiction will become a reality. No one else on Earth could make the same speech and impart to it the same importance.

As to pathos, I think the appeal to the future, to a new frontier of science and exploration, is consistent throughout the speech. What I found most striking, however, was how Kennedy achieved that emotional appeal in the first place—he echoed Charles Dickens. The phrase sounds like it came directly from A Tale of Two Cities—“for we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance. The greater our knowledge increases, the greater our ignorance unfolds.” That line sends shivers down the spine, and sets the entire pathos of the speech. It is neither pessimistic nor optimistic, but solemn. When contrasted with the generally forward-looking optimistic emotion of the rest of the speech it modulates the entire emotional tone—it shows as an emotional appeal that the topic is something hopeful, optimistic, but also gravely important.

Lastly, I was struck by the joke Kennedy made about how hot it was in Houston. It was startling, not because it was funny, but because it was so unscripted and natural. I have a great deal of trouble imagining any modern Presidents, regardless of their speechmaking skills, making the same sort of aside. I cannot help but wonder if that may not be a result of television, of politicians who feel they have to speak to a television audience, versus politicians who where taught to speak to the audience actually in front of them.

sameerk117 said...

As Travis said, my thoughts on Kennedy's speech also echo much of what has already been discussed. This was the first time I had never listened to JFK give a formal address. I was impressed with JFK's clever use of pathos/ethos/logos to garner support for the controversial position he was advocating for. I also thought he used an ideal opportunity to address exploration. Speaking at a prestigious university with young brilliant minds was probably the ideal venue for this discussion.
JFK’s use of pathos, logos, and ethos played an important role in selling his position to his audience. I tried to listen to the speech from the perspective of a student in the crowd to see how ethos was used. Most people will not get the opportunity to be addressed by the President. For this reason, I feel like if I was in the crowd that day, I would be in awe and maybe not absorb the speech itself. JFK counters this by essentially stepping down from his prominent status as President, and asks the crowd to accept him as just a professor. He also takes this a step further through his genuine humility and gratitude. Within just a few moments, JFK was able to stabilize his audience and grasp their attention for all the right reasons. This may have been one of the most difficult aspects of JFK’s speech. However, it literally took less than a minute to disarm the situation. JFK’s strategic use of ethos was impressive, to say the least.
JFK also did a great job at alleviating the concern/stress involved with space exploration. In fact, he tackled it head on. I feel like he was in a tough position because he needed to prove he was educated on the issue without boring his audience. I thought he did a superb job of not crossing the line towards boredom. JFK was able to maintain simplicity while igniting a passion in his audience. I thought the most powerful few lines in the speech were when discussing the man who climbed Mount Everest just “because it was there.” JFK was masterful in the use of pathos throughout the speech. Not only was he able to alleviate concerns and discuss the ignorance shared amongst all his audience, but he was able to simultaneously ignite passion in his audience for his position.
I also found the use of the 50 year timeline as a strong internal structure throughout the speech. As other shave mentioned, I also found it easy to follow and effective. I thought the repeated use of the word ignorance sent a message. Not only did it set out a goal, become educated and learn, but it also put individuals in a position they generally are not comfortable with. As mentioned by others, I thought the word choice throughout the speech was effective and powerful. The logical flow of the speech was simple but equally as effective.
This was a well thought out and developed speech. JFK’s use of pathos, ethos, and logos was done powerfully and strategically. I thought this was a great final assignment to tie up the loose ends and see everything we have learned put into motion effectively.

Nick Chu said...

An outdoor speech, in Houston, in September, with full suits…OUCH!

This is one of my favorite speeches. I wish I had JFK’s speaking style. Because of national news coverage and increase travel schedules, many politicians use written speeches, but forget their audience. Not with this speech. Speaking to a crowd at Rice he added the line, “Why does Rice play Texas.” He got a huge response from the crowd when he said that line. Also many politicians today feel like their speech is written in stone and they can’t add anything while they are speaking. Kennedy’s doesn’t fall in to that category. When he was talking about the heat of the sun, he goes off script and says, “just as hot as today.” That got the crowd back into the speech. Great speechmakers like Kennedy know that written words should be helpful, and that the speaker should never feel constrained by those words when actually delivering the speech.

Hearing this speech, I’m reminded of a saying that one of the candidates I worked for use to say, “Hope is better than hate.” The best speeches that we all can remember are never speeches of hate. The speeches we remember are ones filled with hope, because hope is a feeling that lasts. Hate fades after time. The best motivator for a project as immense as going to the moon was for people to believe they were doing it to build a better tomorrow (not to destroy the Soviets).

During the campaign, Obama used the same technique of appealing to people’s hopes and not to their fears. John Kennedy’s brother Robert also used that technique. I’m a politics nerd…after viewing the moon speech I listened to Obama’s speech after losing the New Hampshire Primary to Hilary Clinton and RFK speech announcing MLK’s assassination. Both speeches are great companion pieces to the moon speech. Like JFK facing the threat of Soviet domination in space, RFK and Obama faced drastic situations. RFK was facing a race riot. Obama faced a tough campaign lose. Instead of appealing towards people’s fears and hate; both speakers chose JFK’s route—hope and inspiration.

During this course we have talked about the structure of the speech, what to do, and what not to do. This week we are talking about closing the deal—incorporating all the elements of the course in delivering our speech. I think its interesting that in order for us to successfully close the deal, we have to look back not towards the words written in front of us, but towards the moments after the speech. JFK made a conscious choice that after the speech he wanted people to feel inspired at our goal of going to the moon. JFK’s speech wasn’t great because of the words in it; it was great because of what that speech made us feel after it was over.

Michael Bernick said...

JFK connected with his audience by complementing Rice and Texas throughout his speech. He placed Rice on the cutting edge of space science and held Rice out as courageous for playing Texas and tackling these scientific problems. He complimented Houston as a strong, pioneering city that will play a great role in launching American manned space flight. JFK related this extremely important message to his audience with a casual tone. He joked about the weather, area sports, and used the football field to describe parts of the plan. This conveyed to the audience that he wanted them to be a part of a plan and that it was a national effort. He asked for their support and told them how they can contribute, a great example of how to call the audience to action.

Before stating that the US will become the leader in manned space flight by the decade’s end, JFK led the audience down a logical progression of US space program achievements that made this goal seem to be a possibility then a probability. He discussed rockets being built, the number of US crafts in orbit, and the extraordinary pace of NASA developments and discoveries. This set the stage for JFK’s promise. Without these details, JFK would be asking the audience to buy in to his blanket statements. JFK's use of vivid imagery and common language helped the audience understand his plan.

JFK asked for the audience to believe in him, the country, and themselves as the US worked to catch and pass the Soviets.

Hunter Lewis said...

It's hard to find a good starting place for my comments on this speech. JFK is just so enjoyable to watch, I almost get lost in what he has to say.

Overall I think this was a challenging topic to speak on. At that point in history, the US was, as JFK put it, "behind" other countries in our developments. But we would not stay there. It is almost interesting to see what JFK predicted and how our space program and country really did evolve over the next couple of decades.

It is hard, though, to really criticize this speech. As a President, JFK has to appeal to such a large and diverse audience. There really is no way to please everyone. So how do you solve this problem? Make overarching and bold statements. JFK made promises, none of which were specific, but all of which were positive. He promised our country would not stay behind for long, he promised that we would continue invention and innovation, he promised that we would master space.

The key to the success of this speech, however, was to level the playing field. JFK had a family history and name for himself long before he became president. To avoid sounding as if he was talking to the audience as opposed to talking with the audience, he needed to convince the listeners that he was one of them. I think this is why he spent such a large portion of his speech on American history. He really wanted to relate how great "we" are as a whole body, himself included. He also used words such as "we" and "us" to describe everything that America would do together. In the end, he painted a great picture of one nation, working together, towards a common goal of progress and space exploration.

William King said...

My comments will echo some of what has been posted above, so I will try not to reiterate too much of what has already been said.
Kennedy (or his speechwriter) immediately developed ethos by giving shout outs to Rice University, Houston and Texas generally, and quipping about the oppressive heat (the “Why does Rice play Texas” line was pretty clever). In doing so it made his speech all the more accessible. He was no longer the President, but a leader of the people, a populist cheerleader of sorts. He was not issuing a declaration from on high - he was giving a call to action as a fellow citizen.

As for logos and pathos, Kennedy appealed to something in the American cultural character that seeks to find adventure and overcome obstacles. But I also tried to keep in mind that the context of this speech, given in the middle of the Cold War, adds perhaps a more tangible rationale and appeal. The goal for Kennedy’s administration was not just advancing humanity in the long run – it was beating the Russians. It was a matter of national pride and national security draped in images of American triumph throughout the ages. “We need to show the Russians our technological prowess and it's going to cost a lot of money” just doesn’t sound as good as “Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first.”

I was somewhat surprised that JFK directly addressed the huge cost of the program by offering a kind of “per diem” argument a lawyer would give to a jury when asking for damages. Several billion dollars doesn’t sound so bad when it’s framed as 50 cents a week, or as the yearly national consumption of tobacco products (back in a time when everyone smoked, of course). He masterfully transformed the big into the small, the incomprehensibly huge into the manageable. He made the space race all the more understandable and acceptable to the nation.

As for other speech techniques he used, I was really struck by his cadence – it was almost hypnotic. After every 5 to 8 words he took a little pause and then emphasized the first syllable of the next word. It’s almost like the speech was written in iambic pentameter. The effect of this is that the previous line has a little time to sink in, which is particularly effective since each line is almost poetic in its construction.

Last, when you listen to political speeches nowadays, they're mostly tripe designed to make good soundbites. It sure would be nice to hear a speech like this every once in a while.

Patrick Sheridan said...

This is a speech that we all have heard a clip from. But that clip, an appeal to pathos, is a part of a greater speech with more elements. First, JFK does a fantastic job of establishing ethos. He is talking about a proposal that will hugely shape geopolitical relations and the exploration of other worlds. Yet he still focuses on the place where he is giving the speech. He refers to his honorary professorship at Rice and he praises the college, city, and state: “At a college noted for knowledge, in a city noted for progress, in a state noted for strength, and we need all three.”

The logos of the speech is especially creative. To depict the urgency of his call for a space program, JFK condenses human history to 50 years and chronologically makes his way to the present controversy, making it seem as if America only had a few hours to act. He attacks the doubters by elaborating the accomplishments that the program has already made, emphasizing in measurements designed to impress the audience by their size. Finally, he tells a story about how the end result might look. JFK goes into minute detail about the future rocket and its journey to the moon and back, telling the story of how the goal will be accomplished.

The pathos of the speech is really the greatest part. JFK appeals to the best that is in the human race. He seeks to invoke a pride and determination in his listeners as part of a human race that strives towards difficult goals. He invokes Texas pride in toughness: “This city wasn’t built by those who rested and waited to look behind them.” And he touches on a the pride of all humans with the famous line: “[Why climb the mountain.] Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”

Joy Tull said...

observations make up the majority of my response this time because as the speech continued I didn’t want to forget the moments of clarity I had while the president was speaking.

you’re at a university for smart people, in a city of progress, in a state of strength and you’re exactly what we need. i’m betting this is what Osler meant when he said JFK starts off with a “Elis, Happy City” greeting.

he then moves on to frame the lens through which he wants the audience to hear his speech. which is both brilliant and essential. there are a multitude of societal events and occurrences that the speaker can focus on and what they chose will set the tone for how the audience hears. by focusing on the incredibly fast pace of development and the graduates place at its precipice, it lets them hear through the lens of playing a vital role in the future. they decide where we go from here.

(paraphrasing) he says look at what we can do: we can stop being ignorant. look at all we don’t know, look at all we have to gain knowledge, and yet look at all we still don’t know.

(side note: if the world was 50 years old - who knew jfk was a young earth catholic?)

we’re on the fast track. you are at the greatest time in history: the world has started turning inexplicably faster and although it’s scary to think about a world going so fast it flings you off. but lest you ask the world to slow down, think about it before continuing on, recognize that the world won’t stop, only you will. where you come from is good stock and they would not want you looking back as an excuse to stave off moving forward.

no leader stays behind. we are on the precipice of yet another tork in the power that’s continuing to spin this world faster. we’ve been the leader in the last 3 turns, and as we head into the opportunity to make the top spin faster, we have a choice to make. continue in the historical greatness that precedes us. become the historical accomplishments that are to come. or be caught standing in awe at how fast the world is spinning while being left with no part in moving it faster.
everyone’s watching the next frontier. we’ve told everyone we’ll get there first because what we have is the best there is to offer.

(side note: weapons of mass destruction in space? maybe those are the ones rumsfeld was looking for in the middle east.)

okay, paraphrasing over for the moment because I think it’s important to point something out here. it’s easy to get caught up in the promise and expectation of the speech, which makes it even easier to miss the incredible contradictions in his hyperbole. or maybe they aren’t contradictions. maybe he simply meant to point to places where Americans can and must be better than their former selves. which is also very inspirational – to say to a group of people full of knowledge who feel as if they’re on the edge of busting into life “others before you have made mistakes. learn from them so you can exceed their best efforts because you will not have the weight of their mistake ”. for example, while discussing the presence of moral right on our side, he uses nuclear energy as an example. the irony that he is speaking to the only country in history to use a nuclear bomb on another country and yet he is invoking americas moral obligation to ensure the exploration of space is accomplished for peace. it looks like the recent past of devastating injustice is being ignored.

Joy Tull said...

(mine was too long to fit into one, so this is the to be continued portion)

why does rice play texas? because it’s hard. and it measures the best of our energies and skills. through out his speech he builds his credibility as a speaker, and it seems like that's usually where he adds in the comical notes that make us all keep listening to speakers in general.

he evokes the best of america while similarly accessing the positive feelings we have for historic moments in america history: cape canaveral, john glenn, orbiting earth with satellites. our sattelites weren't first, but they were far more sophisticated and provided far more information than the ghetto soviet satellites. ours are better, because we continue to strive for the best and even though we’ve had failures, so has everyone else. on the backs of our failures, are our greatest achievements which become the greatest accomplishments of humankind. i can't think of a better way to address criticism - use previous difficulties to point to the sucesses they lead to.


he runs through the incredible accomplishments that have resulted from our work thus far (we can warn for hurricanes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters) while reiterating the benefits to come (Houston will become the center of the economic benefit of this kind of effort). it’s a gifted speaker and well planned speech that both addresses the problems and benefits of something historic like reaching the moon, that faces both great promise and serious opposition.

he then goes on to attack the budgetary concerns without saying “it’s ridiculous to claim that going to the moon doesn’t warrant the resources we’re expending” without ever saying it. instead he simply makes an incredibly apropos comparison: reaching space v. cigarettes.

he doesn’t shy away from the difficulties of the mission – he uses them to his advantage. he basically says it’s ridiculous to try and do what we’re doing, it’s hard, it seems impossible, and yet we will succeed. what’s implied is what the hearer adds “because we’re American, and it’s what Americans do” and it rings true in the spirit of every American, even though jfk never says the words himself.

awe inspiring. let’s go mars. i mean the moon.

p.s. pete was dead on in his ethos, pathos, logos evaluation. he was so good in fact that he caught some stuff i completely missed - calling himself a professor? good catch pete.

Phil Bean said...

Well, here's my second attempt at writing since my computer crashed while writing the first one...

JFK started out by expressing ethos - he talked about how Rice is known for it's knowledge, Houston's known for progress, and Texas is noted for strength. Every Texan loves to hear how great his state is, so this surely won over much of the audience within the first minute of the speech. But he followed that ethos statement with a powerful statement which foreshadowed where the rest of the speech was going when he said "We stand in need of all three", referencing knowledge, progress, and strength. It was a kind of call to action letting the audience know what he wanted to accomplish before he even got to the topic of his speech.

I also noticed how JFK very often spoke in 3's, grouping terms or ideas in groups of threes. I'm not sure if that's a literary technique or what, but it seemed effective. It provides a short list that is not excessively long and boring, but not too short so as to make it not a list anymore.

He also used pathos well by appealing to the Americans as being leaders. He described how we were falling behind Russia in the space battle and how it could affect several other parts of society. Most Americans would feel a call to action when they heard that we were losing to Russia, because Americans generally hate to be anything but the greatest country in the world (which we are).

I thought the most famous part of the speech is famous for a reason - it is compelling and explains succinctly but memorably the reasoning behind the space plan that JFK wanted. First he appealed to football fans in the state by asking, "Why the moon? Why does Rice play Texas?" That questions would make the average hearer understand the "why" of the space program. He followed it with the famous line, "We choose to do them not because they are easy, but because they are hard." It not only explains perfectly the reason for needing to explore space and be a leader in doing so, but it appeals to the audience in showing how we, as Americans, don't do things just because we are easy - we challenge ourselves to be better than everyone else.

Finally, I noticed that the conclusion was the most powerful part of the speech. It seemed to me that at that point, JFK truly knew what he wanted to say - maybe not the exact words, but he spoke passionately and from the heart and he didn't look down at his notes. At that point he captured me and felt a connection with him, and felt that he truly believed and cared for progressing the space program. It made me care too, even though I wasn't born until 20 years later.

Drew Pate said...

I haven’t heard much of JFK actually speaking so this was interesting to watch for me. JFK had me sold as soon as he said that Texas is a state noted for strength. This was the first of many times that he did an excellent job of playing to his audience. He capitalized on the US fear of and competitive drive with the Soviets. It was only after he had played up America’s position as a leader, the importance of space exploration, and the need to defeat the Soviets that he even mentioned the costs of what he was proposing. I’m not entirely sure what the purpose of his speech was. If the purpose was to garner support and talk about the importance of space exploration, then there would be no need to go into detail about the costs of the program. However, it was effective to bring it up because it makes him appear honest and upfront about some of the negatives of the program. I thought that his bit at the end about Mt. Everest detracted a bit from everything that he had already set up. It may be true that a large part of why we explore space is because it is there and we don’t really know what we will find, but it is also true that it costs a lot of money and involves a lot more than one man choosing to climb Mt. Everest. JFK had already sold us on why we need to explore space, and I felt like this little tidbit should’ve been left out.

Travis Bragg said...

During the other weeks, when there are several topics on which to write, I generally skim the posted comments to get an idea of what others are discussing. This allows me to tackle something different; or at least try to offer a diverse perspective on an idea already in the thread. This week, I took the opposite approach, because I wanted to approach the clip with fresh eyes and ears and this writing with a fresh mind. So I apologize in advance if this sounds repetitive of other posts.
Throughout the clip, I could not help but contemplate the staggering differences between that day and today. There we evident everywhere – the speech, the setting, the scene. Obvious examples were throughout the speech when JFK is discussing the technology they will use to accomplish this almost preposterous proposition of going to the moon. I liked that in bragging about certain technology he likened its accuracy to a shot being fired from Cape Canaveral and landing between the 40s – a 20 yard by 53ish yard sandbox. Today, we can fire a missile from the other side of the globe and land it inside the 0 of the 40 (or preferably squarely in that burnt orange bull’s eye). I somewhat giggled when I saw a man in the background smoking a cigarette while the President was speaking; but I lost it when I watched another man dig for his smokes, pull one out, search for his lighter, and then light up as though t’weren’t no big thang.
As for JFK’s Ethos, he walked into that stadium on that hot early Fall day with more initial credibility than any other person on earth could have mustered. Yet, he knew his purpose there was to convince the American people that this grandiose and hazardous adventure was one worth taking. So he used two mechanisms when starting his speech – one we talked about in class, the other more subtle. He started by using “we,” “our,” and the like which is typical for a Presidential speech, and a technique we discussed in class. I thought it was very savvy, nonetheless, to use these terms when discussing technology – “our collective comprehension.” Speaking to the farmer in the rural Midwest, JFK not only includes him, but also places him on the same plane of intelligence as the President, the other distinguished guests present, and even the scientists. The more subtle technique, given the seemingly enormous topic, was to start small, then grow. “We meet in a college … a city … a state ….” “We meet in an hour … a decade … an age ….” “The city of Houston … State of Texas … country of the United States of American. Throughout his speech, JFK also displayed integrity in the speech by acknowledging all of the pitfalls and disparagements of this plan – the financial burden, the extreme risk of human life, the fact that this may not work, even that the US was behind in the race of space exploration. But at each turn, he showed his commitment. This was obvious when towards the end of his speech he repeated the phrase “I think …” only to end with “It will be done.”
[continued in next post]

Travis Bragg said...

[continued from previous post]
This speech also oozed pathos. But it had to, again given the reason for the speech – to convince the American people that, although costly, this mission to the moon by the end of the decade was worth it. Towards the middle of the speech, JFK hit hard at the core beliefs of many Americans. He started with history and pride. He noted that our country was at the forefront of many recent scientific developments, and he challenged “this generation” to rise to that calling of our forefathers. He then discussed our race to the moon in terms of obligation. Our nation made vows [to whom?] – “no hostile flag of conquest, but a banner of freedom and peace” and “no weapons of mass destruction, but instruments of knowledge and understanding.” He mentioned “our obligations to ourselves and others” to solve problems “for the good of all men.” Because the hazards of space are not manmade, but “are hazards to us all.” When discussing the benefits of space exploration, he mentioned that satellites gave humankind unprecedented warnings of hurricanes and storms. This may have merely been coincidence; but I thought it interesting [and very savvy if intentional] given the particular location of the address. Again, speaking to the particular locale, he asks “Why the moon?” He answers, “Why climb the highest mountain? Why fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?” Perhaps inspired by the comment, a month and a half after the speech, Rice tied Texas in front of their home crowd, on the very field where Kennedy spoke. [Wonder if they will be so lucky when they open their 2010 season against t.u. in Reliant Stadium?]
The ethos and pathos were definitely present; but those were the easy components. JFK did a masterful job at establishing the logos of his plans. First, he set the stage with his “50 Years of Human History.” This is the standard by which we are to judge the scientific and other developments of humanity. It also allowed him to immediately address a concern of “some” → those wishing to stay where we were “a little while longer.” He did not focus so much on establishing the possibility of reaching the moon … and returning a human safely back to Earth, let’s not forget that. Rather, he focused on the possibility of failure. We were behind in manned flight. This was already costing a lot of money, and it would continue to cost more. But at each turn, he addressed and dealt with those fears of failure. We were behind, but we will be ahead and reach the moon first. It was costing money, but we will reap the benefits – job growth, university benefits, establishing freedom, etc. Yes we spent a lot on space travel, but its “less than we spent on cigarettes and cigars last year,” [as a man was smoking behind him]. Finally, he recognized this was an “act of faith and vision.” Moving from this possibility to more than just probability, to certainty, he began a series of sentences framed around “I think.” But he ended with “it will be done.”
My only real criticism of the speech, though it is a big one, is the horrible choice of story with which JFK ended. He told the story of George Mallory, who, when asked why he would climb Mount Everest, George replied, “Because it’s there.” First, there is speculation whether Mallory ever actually said this quote. Second, Mallory died in that attempt to climb Everest, and it is uncertain whether he reached the first assent before his death. Even if these two failings were not present, he ends a wonderfully crafted and well thought out speech with a logical fallacy – “Why do something? Because it’s there to do!” Really? Why risk millions of dollars and human lives in this insane task – because there’s nothing better to do? That was the end. Surprising given the speech, though not so much given the overrated standing of the speaker.

Kristin Postell said...

This speech seems to inspire my classmates to write long and thorough discussions so there is not much more I can add. I think the greatest evidence of effective use of ethos, logos, and pathos is the warm fuzzy feeling this speech produces. JFK left me proud of my country and proud of our history. He brings hope and excitement to his audience as well as a very convincing argument. Even a gentleman behind him was inspired to dig a piece a paper out of his jacket pocket, tear it in half, and begin taking notes. I especially enjoyed when JFK described exactly what going to the moon would entail. He made sure that he put a very impressive image of a very large and technologically advanced rocket that could do an amazing feat. He described the feat in a way that not only made us picture it, but also be amazed. JFK sold the idea of going to the moon to the American people through logic and pride. What really amazes me is that he sold this very expensive government-funded program during a recession. He addressed this by (1) mentioning how many jobs it would create and the money it would put into the economy and (2) comparing the cost to what Americans spend on cigarettes. I think the analogy was especially fitting since much of the money spent on the space program got burned up or lost in space. The thing that JFK really communicated about the cost was that it was worth it. His speech clearly communicated that Americans had a lot to be proud about. JFK's speech illustrated the greatest benefit of the space program was the patriotism which turned out to be exactly what happened. JFK or his speech writers had an excellent understanding of how to use a speech to persuade. I will not painstakingly go through JFK's effective use of pathos, logos, and ethos since I would just be copying my classmates. However it was surprising to me how easy it was to spot them in JFK's speech.

On a final note, a lot of the positive feelings towards JFK by our generation were because of his speeches and his ability to inspire. During his presidency he had his enemies (obviously) and was called a communist. The parallels to the way people feel about Obama struck me while watching JFK speak. It makes me wonder if my kids will be watching Obama's speeches in their Oral Advocacy class.

blake whitcomb said...

It’s difficult to add analysis to what’s been extensively discussed in several previous posts. Kennedy has an amazing tone and cadence. That combined with his position as President would have been sufficient to hold the audience’s attention. I’m not even from Texas and the constant name dropping on Houston, Rice, and football made me smile with a sort of transferred pride. While his version of “happy city” was a tremendous hook, I thought the most compelling aspect of his ethos in the speech was the continued humility and humor he interjected into the spaces between his points.

The constant emotional pushes of the speech were pride and courage. I may be becoming cynical but these seem a little clichéd in an era of televised political speeches. However, when blended with the arguments Kennedy laid down, the effect was stunning. While the “march of progress” timeline breakdown was impressive, I thought the best arguments were those justifying the government’s investment in the program. Comparing spending on the space program to the money spent on the nation’s tobacco habit offered a sensible perspective to what must have seemed a startling sum in 1962. He also cleverly focused on the cost per week per person increase from forty to fifty cents rather than the lump sum. This point was followed by an elaborate description of a future space mission. Ten additional cents a week seems inconsequential next to Kennedy’s fantastic visions of propulsion, precisions, and adventure.

James Reed said...

That was a very inspiring speech. After listening to it I’m ready to drop out of law school, join NASA and beat the Soviets. JFK was a master of inspiration and encouragement. His speeches were very eloquent, but at the same time they were easy to follow and to the point.
A theme throughout the speech was the idea of American exceptionalism. It seemed to be a reminder that if we just “rallied the troops” and put our collective effort behind something no task was unattainable, including the moon and beating the Soviet Union.
I thought the condensed timeline of inventions and innovations was a good illustration of the speed of discovery. It really put things in perspective and made crazy ideas, like going to the moon, seem not only realistic but inevitable. He also made the American people feel like it was their duty to be pioneers. He painted a picture that made it seem like being leaders and innovators is just what America does. Whether we like it or not, it’s in our DNA.
The whole “visiting professor” concept he brought out during the introduction was lost on me. I understand that he was trying to essentially teach the audience and was at a university, but in my opinion trying the professor angle was unnecessary. He’s the President of the United States of America. When he speaks he already has the audience’s undivided attention, and his words are given great weight and credibility.

James Hatchitt said...

I agree with Peter and Ashley on the ethos portion of the speech. The intiial paragraph on Rice Universtiy, the City of Houston, and the State of Texas was in there for the President to connect with the audience, to let everyone know he understood where they were coming from and where they wanted to go. Maybe I'm being backward, but I think Kennedy needed to do something like that. His Boston accent is much heavier than I would ahve thought. Instinctually, I was more skeptical of him because he was a Yankee. Weird.

Professor Counseller talks about "calling down the thunder" while you're speaking, the ability to arouse passion by becoming passionate yourself. I normally associate that with evangelical speakers and reverends like Al Sharpton and Billy Graham. It feels strange hearing it from a secular, political figure. I haven't listened to all of Bill Clinton or W's speeches, but I don't recall them being as passionate about the subjects. Maybe they were. But Kennedy definitely is sending that vibe. On the other hand, it really interrupts the flow when he has to constantly look down to check his written speech. I don't know what he has written there, but it wasn't helping. The words were flowery and poetic, but the delivery could have been better. The parts I thought he did the best sounded more off-the-cuff because he got rolling, he started expounding. I think that stuff really makes a difference when you're trying to move people, not just to persuade them.

As for logos, the President focused on America's role as a global leader and the necessity of maintaining that role in all areas, including space exploration. He talked about making sure space was going to be a frontier for knowledge, not as a strategic weapon or staging point for the Soviets. That kind of stuff gets you philosophically behind a collective goal.

Brad Kinkeade said...

He started off with a joke which I thought was funny but I didn't really hear anyone laugh. I still think that it was a nice way to start off on nice note allowing the audience to feel comfortable in the presence of the President.
He then used a sped up time line which helped everyone understand how much we have done in such a little amount of time and how we can make it to the moon. This allowed the audience to not only believe but feel like they are going to be a part of history
He uses fantastic language throughout but my favorite line has to be the "race for space." This is what people will take away from the speech and will be embedded in not only peoples mind's but their hearts.
I've always loved the ocean metaphor. This is something people can always understand.
I thought it was interesting when he talked about the miss use of space. And that we will not go unprotected. I'm not sure how this has actually played out in the future seeing as we now occupy an international space station with Russia.
He answers his own question, "Didn't understand the why should we go? " B/c Rice plays Texas. This really went over well in the college atmosphere. I didn't seem to mind that he answered his own question, it allowed the crowed to laugh and continue to stay emotionally involved in the speech.
When he talk about how 40 satellites orbit earth. I can't imagine how many satellites we have now, but it allowed the audience to grasp the type of progress is being made and that we want to be ahead of the cure (or at least ahead of Russia).
He talked about the amount of money being spent. Space expenditures are less than we spend on cigarettes and cigars. I don't think we can say that now with billions we spend on the space program. But it is interesting now when you put this speech against the one the President just gave and how we are looking for cheaper alternatives to continue space exploration.
I thought the end was fantastic, "Why did he want to climb it, because it was there." This was really at the heart of the message; yes, there will be things we learn from this "space race" but ultimately we just want to get to the moon first to beat the Russians. Instead of trying to hide this reasoning he embraced it and so did his audience and the rest of the American public.