The Oratory of Condoleezza Rice

  • Clodagh Harrington
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


This chapter will focus, through the Aristotelian lens, on speeches that Rice made at key moments in her career. It will examine how her calm, informed, academic delivery style brought some credibility to an administration that was struggling with the political consequences of its foreign policy decisions. Her unswerving support for the President and his decisions brought its own set of consequences. However, her 2012 Republican National Convention speech offers a measure of the respect that the GOP maintained for her. She may have been clear in her insistence that she had no desire to run for the presidency herself, but there is no doubt that she possessed the necessary oratorical skills for the role.

During the challenging years of the Iraq war, Dr Rice was often considered the respected, if not always agreed with, mouthpiece for the administration’s controversial foreign policy decisions. A gracious, charming but no-nonsense realist, Rice created a clear distance between herself and her neo-conservative colleagues. Considering her speeches through the prism of the Aristotelian traditions, her impulse veered towards logos (logic) and ethos (persuasion) based on her personal credibility. Clearly her academic background served her well here, as her ability to collate and comprehend complex information for her speeches was evident. Her character did not lend itself to rely on the emotional option of pathos, and yet some of her finest speeches made reference to her childhood in segregated Alabama. By inserting only the briefest of mentions to her hugely appealing personal story, she succeeded in repeatedly delivering a powerful message.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clodagh Harrington
    • 1
  1. 1.De Montford UniversityLeicesterUK

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