George W. Bush September 20, 2011 Address to Congress
On September 11, 2001 the American nation was shaken with news of a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers in New York City. Fear and panic commandeered the spirits of American citizens as they awaited to hear if their loved one had perished, if another attack had been planned for somewhere else in the United States, and how their nation would rise from the ashes to face another tomorrow. Not only had their nation been attacked, but also the true measure of their freedom had been questioned. In times like these, the American people put their faith in their president. They rely on his leadership to instruct them on what to do next. This essay explores the context surrounding President George W. Bush's Address to Joint Session of Congress on September 20, 2001, and how the social events, people, and overall national fear helped to shape this address.
The evening of the attacks on September 11, the President addressed the nation in order to commemorate the attacks. No such attack of terrorism had ever been so deliberate and harmful to citizens as those that had happened earlier that day. The American people needed a strong leader to alleviate that fear. George W. Bush clearly addresses the issue of terrorism in his address: The search is underway for those who were behind these evil acts. I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them (Bush). Though President Bush addressed this issue, the fear of terrorism continued to grow. This slightly irrational fear comes from a couple different factors. One, that humans fear what they cannot control, and two, that they fear what is most readily available in memory (Myers). With the heartbreaking attacks on the World Trade Center happening only nine days prior, President Bush had to eradicate this everyday fear for the citizens of the United States in his address to Congress. The Democratic Party, prior to the events on September 11, had been planning a political attack, which was "designed to criticize the president for his tax cuts" (Packer, and Spring). However, after the attack, they instead had to spend September 12 in a bunker below the capital together for precautionary safety reasons. Not only for the men safely housed in that bunker, but also for all people nationwide, September 12 marked the first day of a passionate patriotism that united the nation together in such a strong way since World War II. People later recounted the small acts that average citizens did for one another after the attacks. Neighbors would hang flags in order to honor fallen loved ones, and people donated their time to help widows get back on their feet. The days and months following the WTC attacks truly unified the country in spirit as they bonded together over their shared loss and heartbreak (Denton). This immense patriotism can be seen in the change in President Bush's approval rating before and after the attacks. On September 7, his approval rating was around 51%, however, on September 19, his approval rating had skyrocketed to an astounding 90% ("Presidential Approval Ratings--George W. Bush."). This is the highest approval rating of any president of the United States. Therefore, as President Bush went to address the nation on September 20, his audience was ready to accept anything he had to say. They were ready to hear of patriotism and the beginning of the fight against the terrorists. The speaker, George W. Bush, had a large group of supporters. As seen in the previous paragraph, his approval ratings following the 9/11 attacks skyrocketed which led to a conservative shift after September 11 (Huddy, Leonie, and Standly Feldman). People continued to put their support in Bush and therefore were eagerly awaiting any information or...
Cited: Bush, George W. "Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the United States Response to the Terrorist Attacks of September 11," September 20, 2001. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
Bush, George W. "Address to the Nation." Oval Office, Washington, D.C. 11 Sep 2001. Address.
Denton, Jr., E. Language, Symbols & The Media: Communication In The Aftermath Of The World Trade Center Attack, n.p: 2004. Criminal Justice Abstracts. Print. 9 Feb 2014.
Huddy, Leonie, and Stanley Feldman. “Americans Respond Politically to 9/11: Understanding The Impact Of The Terrorist Attacks And Their Aftermath.” American Psychologist 66.6 (2011): 455-467. PsycARTICLES. Web. 09 Feb 2014.
Kleinfeld, N.R, and Connolly Marjorie. "9/11 STILL STRAINS NEW YORK PSYCHE: Poll Finds Widespread Unease and Lingering Fear of Terror ."New York Times 08 Sep 2003, n. pag. Web. 11 Feb. 2014.
Myers, David G. "Do we fear the right things?." (2001): n. page. Web. 9 Feb. 2014. .
Packer, Joseph Clayton, and Sarah E. Spring. "GEORGE W. BUSH, "AN ADDRESS TO A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE"." n. page. Web. 9 Feb. 2014. .
"Presidential Approval Ratings--George W. Bush." 2009.
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