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?
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?