Masaryk university faculty of education



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With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph -- so help us God.

I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.

Though the United States was attacked in both cases, the final choices pertaining to vocabulary, topics and the declaration itself are vastly different, suggesting the importance of historical precedent and the overall political and social support of the audience.
    1. Truman versus Nixon


Both conflicts took place away from the American soil in Southeast Asia, in Korea the case of Truman, in Vietnam the case of Nixon. Both conflicts occurred during the Cold War era, facing a common enemy, communist infiltration. American troops had already been involved in both conflicts, and both presidents communicated to the audience the reasons for further involvement. Though Nixon’s conflict was called the Vietnam War while Truman’s conflict was always referred to as a police action, both eventually gained the momentum of war.

Indeed, these similar conflicts yielded quite similar results, portrayed in chart 9.4, in terms of the distribution importance of each topic. Seven out of nine categories scored the same or very similar (less than 5% difference) results, indicating similar approaches. They differ in steps that failed. Completely ignored by Truman, they were used heavily by Nixon, who profited from the failures of the two previous Democratic presidents, blaming them for how things turned out in Vietnam.



Chart 9.4

Similarities also occur in chart 9.41, on Truman’s and Nixon’s deictic pointers, which are virtually the same, placing all actions within their time and place. This is because both presidents had to gain the approval of the American public for further costs and casualties, which was not an easy task, particularly for Nixon.



Chart 9.41





As for vocabulary choices, both speakers refer to the enemy in terms of communist aggression. The following example notes further similarities, even in the beginning of the speech, as in syntax. The length of the speeches is also comparable, Nixon used over 4,000 words and Truman over 3,000 and they both include different discourses in their speeches, reading extensively letters or reports from other speakers.

Truman

Nixon



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