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Apologia Analysis Essay Of William J Clinton 's Prayer Breakfast

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During his eight years as President of the United States, William J. Clinton had been allegedly involved in several scandals, although none as arguably infamous as the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The scandal concerned the concealed relationship between President Clinton, a married man, and Lewinsky, a twenty-one year old White House intern. Clinton had been publicly accused of having a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, an accusation he adamantly denied. Eventually, after an overwhelming amount of evidence was gathered against him, Clinton admitted to the relationship, but continued to deny that he had lied about it. On September 11th, 1998, Clinton again admitted his wrongdoings and asked for forgiveness. This speech given at a prayer breakfast to a large group of religious clergy is the focus of this paper. The situation faced by Bill Clinton, an analysis of the strategies he used, and an evaluation of its effectiveness shall all be studied.

The Monica Lewinsky scandal was the result of an investigation initiated from a lawsuit filed by Paula Jones. Paula Jones was a former Arkansas state worker who claimed that Clinton had sexually harassed her in a hotel in 1991 (Baker). Jones' lawyers, seeking to establish a pattern of behavior, questioned several women believed to have had a connection with Clinton. One of the women questioned, Monica Lewinsky, was believed to have had sexual relations with Clinton. When questioned, Lewinsky denied having such a relationship. Clinton also denied having an affair with Lewinsky when questioned. Despite the denials, further investigation commenced.

Clinton's testimony on the relationship was carefully examined by Kenneth Starr, an independent counselor for the Whitewater case, another investigation on the President. Starr had previously obtained tape recordings of telephone conversations between Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky in which Lewinsky described her involvement with the President. Finding a pattern of deception, Starr convinced the Attorney General, Janet Reno, to allow him to investigate the matter in more detail.

The President continued to publicly deny ever having a relationship with Lewinsky and dismissed any charges of trying to cover it up. In an address to the American public, Clinton said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never. These allegations are false" ("Special"). However, his speech to the public was not enough to quash the people's curiosity. Despite 30 newspapers calling for his resignation, President Clinton resolved to stay dedicated to his job (Barringer). In a press conference, when asked whether he considered resigning, he said "I would never walk away from the people of this country and the trust they've placed in me" ("Clinton").

While the public and the media continued to debate the issue, Starr remained persistent in building a case against Clinton. The biggest impediment in Starr's investigation was Monica Lewinsky's unwillingness to testify. However, on July 28, 1998, Starr obtained transactional immunity for Lewinsky in exchange for her grand jury testimony concerning the relationship between her and Clinton. During this time, she also gave up a blue dress which contained a semen stain that was eventually matched to Clinton's DNA ("Lewinsky's"). With all the mounting evidence against him, Clinton finally admitted in a taped grand jury testimony that he had had an "improper relationship" with Lewinsky. On August 17, 1998, Clinton gave a televised statement admitting that he had misled people about his relationship which was "not appropriate" ("Sources"). In this televised statement, he also asked for forgiveness.

Even though Clinton was asking for America's forgiveness, Starr was not about to let the issue rest. On the 9th of September 1998, Starr presented the now infamous Starr Report to the House of Representatives. The Starr Report was a 445 page report documenting the evidence against Clinton and the four possible grounds for impeachment: perjury, witness tampering, abuse of authority, and obstruction of justice ("Explosive"). It also contained explicit recounts of the sexual acts that occurred between Monica Lewinsky and William J. Clinton. After the House of Representatives had time to review the report, they would vote whether to hand it to the House Judiciary Committee. The committee would consider how much of the report would be made public and if Clinton should be impeached.

When Clinton delivered his "Prayer Breakfast" apologia on the 11th of September 1998, he was aware of dealings taking place in the House of Representatives. He knew that it was very possible that he would be impeached and his entire sexual history with Lewinsky be exposed to the public. Clinton delivered this apologia as a way to answer his accusers, reform his actions, and transform his persona in the eyes of the public. But, he also had to be careful not to reveal too much information that may be used against him. He was still a defendant in Paula Jones' lawsuit, which could have potentially cost him a fortune if he lost. And, he had to be careful not to give the House of Representatives clear reason to pass articles of impeachment, or even worse, convict him and remove him from the presidency.

Clinton had many issues to deal with when he delivered his speech on September 11th. One of the most overriding motives in delivering his speech was to transform his persona in the eyes of the public. He was about to be pulled through the mud and all his indiscretions with Lewinsky revealed. The last thing Clinton wanted was to be remembered in the history books in the way that Kenneth Starr projected him. Clearly, he had to convince the public that he had made a mistake and was trying to absolve himself of his errors. Clinton used the posture of seeking absolution through the tactics of bolstering, transcendence, mortification, corrective action and attack accuser.

Clinton begins the speech by welcoming the religious clergy to "this day to which Hillary and the Vice President and I look forward so much every year" (par. 1). He uses bolstering to identify himself with the clergy. Next, he says that he had been "up rather late last night thinking about and praying about what I out to say today" (par. 2). He is trying to identify with the clergy by invoking his own religious orientation. By showing that he's having a difficult time with this speech, he is also appealing himself to the ordinary citizen. Clinton uses bolstering to demonstrate that he is a normal person just like everybody else, even if he is the President of the United States. He continues identifying



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