Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Barbara Jordan: Statement on the Articles of Impeachment

The Watergate scandal is an event that will be forever burned into the history of America. It will forever hinder the trust we, as American citizens, have for our leader because of the betrayal we suffered during Nixon’s reign; this is the view of impeachment enthusiast Barbara Jordan, who’s speech on the matter effectively persuaded her audience. In her “Statement on the Articles of Impeachment” speech she expresses to the chairmen of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee her standpoint and reasons as to why the president should be impeached. She effectively persuades her audience by connecting to them on a legal plain and thoughtfully transitioning to her main point and reasoning statements.

After connecting to her audience with her “We the people” statements, she transitioned to her implications stating the fact that the constitution allows the impeachment of the president at the time. “It is wrong, I suggest, it is a misreading of the Constitution for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office. The Constitution doesn't say that.” (Jordan 1) She’s implicating that even though the president was not convicted of the crimes he is accused of he is still not immune to impeachment. This is an effective strategy because she does not come out and say she wants to impeach the president, she lets you have your own thoughts in the beginning with her own spin on it, subtly projecting her opinions into the audiences thoughts.

Finishing off her speech, Jordan seamlessly goes on from subtly implying an idea, to thoroughly elaborating on her viewpoint of what has been going on politically during the time. “The President has made public announcements and assertions bearing on the Watergate case, which the evidence will show he knew to be false.” This is an impressive transition because her speech never tells you what to do, or tell you what to think; the speech allows for free thought on the subject, but gives some enlightening facts that will, more often than not, persuade the audience to see her side of the issue. All of these facts are actions of the president that showed him to be a liar to the press, the government, and the public. Evidence was given to put the president in an illegal situation, but not enough to convict; enough evidence, however, was given to prove the president was untrustworthy, which was her overall main point. She was not the only one who believed in this, which led to Nixon's resignation from office portrayed below in figure 1.

President Nixon leaving the White House

Figure 1. Nixon, Richard. "Nixon leaving the white house" August 9, 1974. Nixonarchives.gov. 5 Oct. 2010

Boiling it down to the basics, Jordan wanted an impeachment, whether she flat out said it or not. She presented this to the chairmen in a non-forceful but extremely effective manner. Smooth transitions, varying levels of implications, and a climax in an informative speech placed it appropriately in America’s top 100 speeches. Although Nixon was never technically impeached, he was well on his way. If there were any uncertain ears in Barbara Jordan’s audience, they were no longer so after her speech.

Work Cited
Jordan, Barbara Charline "Statement on the Articles of Impeachment". 25 July 1974. American Rhetoric. Web. 5 Oct. 2010