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Andrew Sheperd’s Speech in “The American President”, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 744

Essay

“The American President” (1995) is a romantic comedy in which a fictive President of the United States, Andrew Sheperd, falls in love with environmental lobbyist Sydney Allen Wade. His relationship with an activist who once burned the American flag allows the opposition to step forward and accuse him of character flaws and lack of commitment to American values but the President remains passive and refuses to respond to the accusations. However, after thinking about his situation for an entire night, he impulsively decides to deliver a speech in which he responds his opponent’s accusations and decisively announces his new policy.

At the entrance of the President into the press room, the audience, formed by journalists, and is astound because the President was not supposed to deliver a speech that morning. The President makes his appearance unexpectedly. He salutes the public in the flashes of cameras and the surprised comments of the public, who rises to greet the President. The President opens his speech by making reference to Senator Rumson’s remark regarding his character. In his introduction, the President establishes his authority as superior to Rumson’s y stating: “I’ve been here three years and three days”. The audience, most likely, knows since how long Andrew Sheperd was President but by accentuating it, the President suggests that he has more knowledge on the topic, namely, the degree to which the President’s character matters.

The speaker posture is appropriate for his role as a man with power and distinction. He stands straight, with his shoulders pushed back and his chin forward. The president has a correct poise and, although not military, but rather, relaxed, his posture is perfect for a man who delivers a speech because he imposes respect.

The President is obviously an erudite speaker who did not need a long time in order to think about his speech.  He does not read his words, nor does he hesitate. He is polite and formal, though he also tries to approach his audience by addressing them directly and with familiarity: “If you can answer that question folks, than you are smarter than I am”. Also, in using the plural form of the first person, “we have serious problems and we need serious problems to solve them”, he establishes his own position as one of America’s citizens and therefore, tries to win the audience’s sympathy.

The President does not make large gestures. However, he moves naturally and supports his words with hand gestures. In order to make a point stronger, he strikes the desk in front of him with the index finger. President Sheperd maintains eye contact with his audience at all times. However, his audience is not only formed by journalists, but also, by all the citizens who look at him on the TV. Thus, he establishes eye contact with them by looking directly into the camera.Though his speech is passionate, the tone of the President is calm and serious, so as to win the confidence of the audience. His tone becomes more aggressive while he presents his arguments against Bob Rumson’s becoming President. When he changes the topic and talks about the loss of his wife, his tone becomes nostalgic and sad. Finally, the tone of his voice becomes objective and unaffected as he talks about the bills he plans to pass. At all times, the president seems confident and undisturbed. The reaction of the audience to his speech is rather late because they seem still shocked by the unexpected and unusual speech.

In my opinion, this is a great speech because it combines a personal and a political answer to Senator Rumson and to the entire country. The Senator attacked him personally in order to obtain political advantages. The President’s answer involved both the political and the personal dimensions of the problem. At all times during the speech, the President  was in control and allowed only  a slight degree of emotion to transpire form his speech, enough to raise the sympathy of the public, but not so much as to be inappropriate. Thus, the President’s speech is the reflection of his brilliance, which was mentioned by Sydney at one time in the movie and needed to be impressive and concluding, as it represented the climax of the movie. The speech showed that the President made up his mind concerning his future actions and, and through it, the President solved his image problem.

Works Cited

The American President. Dir. Rob Reiner. Perf. Michael Douglas, Annette Bening,Michael J. Fox. Columbia Pictures, 1995, DVD.

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