two nine elevens

I’m teaching two argumentative writing courses this quarter, and went out web-surfing this afternoon for contemporary speeches with obvious rhetorical examples of pathos. I came across this 1998 speech by Bill Clinton, in which he attemps an emotionally-charged (and carefully, politically-timed) apology for the Monica Lewinsky affair. This passage particularly struck me as ironic:

I believe that to be forgiven, more than sorrow is required – at least two more things. First, genuine repentance – a determination to change and to repair breaches of my own making. I have repented. Second, what my bible calls a ”broken spirit”; an understanding that I must have God’s help to be the person that I want to be; a willingness to give the very forgiveness I seek; a renunciation of the pride and the anger which cloud judgment, lead people to excuse and compare and to blame and complain.

The date of the speech?

September 11th.

Now consider this: a sitting president of the United States not only admitting doing something wrong, but publicly renouncing that part of him that led to the mistake in the first place. What a difference three years makes, no?


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