① Obama Political Speech Analysis

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Obama Political Speech Analysis



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President Obama Speaks at the General Assembly

He did this while standing in front of a building which was built by black slaves during the period of slavery. This indicated that as a global leader, he recognized and represented people from all races, including the black and whites. His inauguration came at a time when the nation was undergoing hard economic times and the people were in low spirits, ready for a new leader who would bring change into their nation. His speech was very artistic. While giving it, he made use of several rhetorical strategies that helped him to mesmerize and persuade his audience. Being a philosopher, Obama used the rhetorical appeal by taking his experiences alongside his vast knowledge of political and legal issues to demonstrate his competence.

For instance, the president effectively used pathos, a rhetorical device meant to appeal to the emotions of his global audience. This is a sentence composed of three well-defined parts which increase in size, magnitude, and intensity. The words were spoken at a time when America was experiencing hard economic times and thus, such words brought a calming effect to his audience.

It indicated that he connected very well to his audience who consisted of people from different races as well as different social and economic backgrounds. This was also meant to put emphasis on his passion towards his nation. It also demonstrated his oratory skills as the words easily created a rhythmic effect. The president also used a lot of poetic words in his speech. Such words ignited the imagination of his audience. In another part of his speech, the president talked about calling his grandfather who was crying. By doing this, he was able to establish an emotional bond with his listeners. His speech was also composed of short but precise sentences.

His speech was also characterized with references of all Americans. He also used religion to this effect. America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace Obama par. Such pronouns also made his speech more informal, a factor that would strengthen his relationship with all the Americans. This could indicate that the speech was mostly about the people he was nominated to serve rather than himself as an individual Obama par.

He was able to use the rhetoric of logos in order to appeal to his audience. By using facts and figures while delivering his message, Obama demonstrated that he was well aware of the history of his nation. Obama was also able to develop his ideas effectively. He demonstrated a lot of honesty in his speech inand did not shy away from the unrelenting problems that affected our country. He recognized and established the relationship that he had with people who were superior to him, giving credit while positively criticizing their flaws. For instance, he expressed gratitude to the former US president Bush for serving the nation as well as his support through the transition period, pointing out the flaws that the nation experienced during his regime.

Obama stayed up until am Sunday night working on the speech, and continued to work on it Monday and in the early hours of Tuesday. He sent his final draft of the speech to Favreau and campaign strategist David Axelrod. Obama later said that as he wrote the speech, he tried to ensure that his mother, Ann Dunham , would have trusted its sentiments. Obama's speech began by quoting the preamble to the United States Constitution : "We the people, in order to form a more perfect union Obama described his own family history—stating that "in no other country on Earth is my story even possible"—and connected both his multicultural background and his campaign with the American motto, " out of many, we are one ".

He mentioned that he achieved primary victories in "states with some of the whitest populations in the country" [2] and in South Carolina , where he won with the support of white and black voters. I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church?

Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely—just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed. But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country—a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America Obama went on to say that Wright's views were "not only wrong but divisive Arguing that Wright and Trinity United Church of Christ had been misrepresented by "the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and YouTube", Obama spoke of Wright's service to the poor and needy, and of the role Wright played in Obama's own journey to Christianity.

Obama stated that, like other black churches , Trinity contained the full spectrum of the black community: "the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America. I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother —a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love. Emphasizing that he was in no way justifying or excusing Wright's comments, Obama said that to dismiss Wright as a "crank or a demagogue Obama then invoked the history of racial inequality in the United States, first by paraphrasing a line by William Faulkner : "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past. Even blacks of that generation who, like Wright, surmounted obstacles to succeed in life often remained bitter and angry about their experiences with racism.

That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright's sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races. Obama then shifted to an expression of what he called "a similar anger" in the white community based on resentments over busing , affirmative action , and the way in which fears about crime are often met with accusations of racism.

Obama stated that these resentments were rooted in legitimate concerns, and that dismissing them as misguided or racist only widened the racial divide and increased misunderstanding. Obama described the resultant situation as "a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years. To that end, he called for the African-American community to "[bind] our particular grievances—for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs—to the larger aspirations of all Americans" and for the white community to acknowledge the "legacy of discrimination The profound mistake of Reverend Wright's sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It's that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country—a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old—is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past.

Obama then presented a choice to his audience. On the one hand, the country could continue to address race "only as spectacle—as we did in the OJ trial —or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina —or as fodder for the nightly news. Obama concluded his speech by relating an anecdote about a young white woman who organized for his campaign in South Carolina and the personal connection she made with an elderly black volunteer.

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children. But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins. The minute [6] speech as actually delivered [20] was essentially the same as the prepared text of the speech that had been distributed to the media, [2] except for some minor differences.

Reaction to Obama's speech was swift and widespread in the United States. Politicians, news media, members of the political punditry, academics, and other groups and individuals quickly weighed in on its significance and effectiveness. In the days following the speech, commentators debated among other questions its possible importance to American history, the extent to which Obama did or did not succeed in pushing questions about his association with Jeremiah Wright to the side, and the overall effect the speech would have on Obama's campaign and the contest with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. The speech achieved immediate popularity on the video sharing web site YouTube , garnering 1.

The response to the speech from Democratic politicians and activists was largely positive. Some characterized the speech as "honest", while others speculated about its possible significance for race relations in the United States. Obama's only remaining opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton , as well as past Democratic presidential candidates, offered thoughts on the speech soon after it was given. Clinton said that she had not seen or read the speech, but that she was glad he had given it: [3]. Issues of race and gender in America have been complicated throughout our history, and they are complicated in this primary campaign There have been detours and pitfalls along the way, but we should remember that this is a historic moment for the Democratic Party and for our country.

We will be nominating the first African-American or woman for the presidency of the United States, and that is something that all Americans can and should celebrate. When asked a week later about the controversy about Obama's pastor that prompted, and was addressed by, Obama's speech, Clinton answered, "He would not have been my pastor. You don't choose your family, but you choose what church you want to attend I just think you have to speak out against that. You certainly have to do that, if not explicitly, then implicitly by getting up and moving. Senator, former candidate and future President Joe Biden called Obama's speech powerful, truthful, and "one of most important speeches we've heard in a long time.

The speech played at least a partial role in the decision of New Mexico governor Bill Richardson who was, like Biden, a former candidate, and one whose support was heavily courted by both Clinton and Obama given that he was the country's only Latino governor to endorse Obama for president, on March 21 in Portland, Oregon. According to The New York Times , Richardson had decided to endorse Obama a week earlier prior to the speech , but "his decision was bolstered by Mr.

Obama's speech on race in Philadelphia. While endorsing Obama in Portland, Richardson said that "Senator Barack Obama addressed the issue of race with the eloquence and sincerity and decency and optimism we have come to expect of him He did not seek to evade tough issues or to soothe us with comforting half-truths. Rather, he inspired us by reminding us of the awesome potential residing in our own responsibility.

He called it "unconvincing", chastised Obama for comparing insensitive racial comments made by his white grandmother with the comments made by Wright, and asked "Why didn't Senator Obama stand up in the church and denounce [Wright's] hateful statements or, at the very least, argue privately with his minister? Jesse Jackson —who, prior to Obama's campaign, had come closer than any other African American to winning a major party's presidential nomination—said that the Obama campaign had been on the verge of being derailed by racial fear stemming from Wright's comments and previous remarks by Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro that Obama would not have come so far had he been white.

This time we're going to higher ground. Democratic consultants and strategists also evaluated the importance and effectiveness of the speech. Stephanie Cutter , John Kerry 's spokesperson in the presidential campaign , suggested that "no other person in this country, black or white, could have given a speech like that. Prominent Republican politicians reacted to the speech as well. Huckabee argued that Obama "handled this about as well as anybody could" and suggested that it was "a very historic speech.

Sometimes people do have a chip on their shoulder and resentment. And you have to just say, I probably would too. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain also offered a warm reaction to the speech during an interview with Chris Matthews on April 15 at Villanova University , describing it as an "excellent speech" and "an important statement that he had to make at the time", and saying that "it was good for all of America to have heard it. Condoleezza Rice , the top ranking African American in the Bush cabinet , responded to the speech on March 28, saying, "I think it was important that he Obama gave it for a whole host of reasons.

The political strategist and former executive director of the Christian Coalition of America Ralph Reed argued that Obama should have gone much further in his condemnation of Wright. He saw the speech as "an enormous missed opportunity to really assert as a very articulate and capable African-American leader how damaging Wright's expressions of hatred and animosity are to the African-American community itself. In a speech before the American Enterprise Institute , former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich responded directly to Obama, who he said "gave us a very courageous speech.

But if anger is a self-inflicted wound that limits us, it is a very bad and a very dangerous thing. And we have to be very careful about the role that anger plays in our culture. An editorial in The New York Times praised the remarks, saying, "Senator Barack Obama, who has not faced such tests of character this year, faced one on Tuesday. It is hard to imagine how he could have handled it better. Chris Matthews of MSNBC referred to the speech as "what many of us think is one of the great speeches in American history, and we watch a lot of them.

Jonathan Alter of Newsweek said that "Barack Obama didn't simply touch the touchiest subject in America, he grabbed it and turned it over and examined it from several different angles and made it personal. Just steps from Independence Hall in Philadelphia, he rang the bell hard and well. Writing in The Wall Street Journal , Peggy Noonan called the speech "strong, thoughtful and important", and noted that its rhetorical style subverted the soundbite -driven coverage of contemporary news media.

Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris of The Politico said that "[t]he Philadelphia speech offered lines calculated to reassure all the groups with which he is most vulnerable. Then came Wright. It is so far above the standard we're used to from our pols. Senator Obama's speech on Tuesday was a brilliant effort to deflect attention away from what remains the core issue: what did Obama hear, when did he hear it, and what did he do about it? The answers, as best we can tell at this stage, is that Obama heard some very harsh things said from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ; that Obama heard them said a long time ago and probably repeatedly; and that he did little or nothing about it.

This from a man who tells us at almost every stop along the campaign trail that he has the "judgment to lead. Ben Smith at Politico compared the speech to Mitt Romney 's earlier campaign address regarding his religion: "A smart colleague notes that this speech is the polar opposite of this year's other big speech on faith, in which Mitt Romney went to Texas to talk about Mormonism, but made just one reference to his Mormon faith. Obama mentions Wright by name 14 times. Dean Barnett of the conservative journal The Weekly Standard wrote a piece subtitled "Answering the question no one asked", saying:.

The fact is, Barack Obama opted to remain in this minister's company for more than six years after that sermon until partially distancing himself just last week in the heat of a presidential race What the analysts who are gushing over Obama's sentiments regarding race relations are missing is not only did Obama fail to accomplish the mission he needed to, he didn't even really try. He made no attempt to explain his relationship with Wright and why he hung around a man who habitually offered such hateful rhetoric. Obama instead offered a non-sequitur on race relations. Obama's speech on racism was as great a speech as ever given by a presidential candidate, revealing a philosophical depth, personal authenticity, and political intelligence that should convince any but the hardest of ideologues that he carries unmatched leadership potentials for overcoming the divide-and-conquer tactics that have sundered Americans since the first slaves arrived here in chains.

In a moment of rare straight-faced sincerity, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show finished his otherwise-typical satirical coverage of the speech by calmly stating: "And so, at 11 o'clock AM on a Tuesday, a prominent politician spoke to Americans about race as though they were adults. Conservative The New York Times columnist Bill Kristol rejected Obama's call for a discussion of race in America, saying: "The last thing we need now is a heated national conversation about race.

Obama's speech is the most remarkable utterance on the subject by a public figure in modern memory. It will take some time for this speech to settle in to the nation's political consciousness but it's unlikely to stop a potentially divisive conversation that has already begun. Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer dismissed Obama's speech as "a brilliant fraud" that failed to either properly pose or frankly answer the question of why someone who purports to transcend the anger of the past would remain in a congregation whose pastor epitomizes that anger; he referred to the speech as an "elegantly crafted, brilliantly sophistic justification of that scandalous dereliction. Not surprisingly, most liberals loved the speech and many conservatives—though not all—lambasted it.

The only point of agreement I found is skepticism that it will help Obama with white, working-class voters, sometimes short-handed as Reagan Democrats. After Obama had secured the Democratic nomination, journalists continued to refer to this speech when analyzing the role of race and racial attitudes in the presidential contest. Political scientists and other academics also offered initial evaluations of the speech. While generally agreeing that the speech was quite significant, there was debate about what effect it would have on the campaign. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia said that it "was a serious speech about the incendiary topic of race in America. Congressional scholar and Brookings Institution senior fellow Thomas Mann [59] argued that Obama gave "an extraordinary speech—not because of any rhetorical flourishes, but because it was honest, frank, measured in tone, inclusive and hopeful.

Donald F. Kettl of the University of Pennsylvania called the speech "stirring" and noted that, "rather than put race behind him, [Obama] put it more at the center of the campaign. Some political science professors questioned whether Obama's speech would have the effect he hoped for in terms of distancing himself from the controversial comments made by Wright and allaying the concerns of a number of white voters. The political scientist and former North Carolina Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Michael Munger called the speech "brave", but said that Obama was "being naive". Munger argued that "[a] black candidate named Barack Hussein Obama can't have questions about his patriotism, and commitment to America, not if he is going to beat a genuine war hero" a reference to John McCain and the general election.

He argued that Obama "had to distance himself far from Wright. Instead, he was brave. Hansen of the University of Pittsburgh noted that "the dilemma for Obama is that the more he talks about race being unimportant or transcended, the more important it will become to the media and voters' perceptions. Wright controversy behind him. Those skeptical of Obama are likely to continue to distribute video clips, and quotes of Obama's own words, to argue that his reaction was not sufficiently strong Historian Roger Wilkins suggested that no other presidential candidate had ever engaged in such an extensive discussion of race. He noted similarities in the political contexts of both speeches: "The men, both lawyers, both from Illinois, were seeking the presidency, despite what seemed their crippling connection with extremists.

Each decided to address [alleged connections with radicals] openly in a prominent national venue, well before their parties' nominating conventions". Wills argued that "Jeremiah Wright was Obama's John Brown " Brown was the radical abolitionist from whom Lincoln made a point of disassociating himself. For Wills, "what is of lasting interest is their similar strategy for meeting the charge of extremism Each looked for larger patterns under the surface bitternesses of their day. Each forged a moral position that rose above the occasions for their speaking. Houston A. Baker Jr.

Obama's "race speech" at the National Constitution Center, draped in American flags, was reminiscent of the Parthenon concluding scene of Robert Altman 's Nashville : a bizarre moment of mimicry, aping Martin Luther King Jr. In brief, Obama's speech was a pandering disaster that threw, once again, his pastor under the bus. Hendricks Jr. The New York Times reported that, within days of the speech, some religious groups and institutions of higher learning were "especially enthusiastic" about Obama's call for a racial dialogue.

According to the Times , "Universities were moving to incorporate the issues Mr. Obama raised into classroom discussions and course work, and churches were trying to find ways to do the same in sermons and Bible studies. Forbes was to preach the Trinity United Church of Christ Easter service which Wright had preached in the past, telling the Times : "It is nighttime in America, and I want to bring a word of encouragement.

Janet Murguia , president of the National Council of La Raza , said that she hoped that Obama's speech would help people "talk more openly and honestly about the tensions, both overt and as an undercurrent, that exist around race and racial politics. Others applauded Obama's call for a national dialogue on race, but hoped that words would be translated into action. Rabbi Michael Lerner , the editor of Tikkun and a founder of the Network of Spiritual Progressives , argued that "this has got to be more than a speech because these things don't just happen spontaneously There needs to be some systematic, organizational commitment to making this happen, with churches, synagogues and mosques working out a plan for continued dialogue.

Later in the presidential campaign, Obama cited his crafting of this speech as an example of a "gut decision". Speaking to journalist Joe Klein in October , Obama said that he decided to make his response to Wright's comments "big as opposed to make it small", and added:. My gut was telling me that this was a teachable moment and that if I tried to do the usual political damage control instead of talking to the American people like One of the crucial questions after Obama's speech was what effect if any the speech would have on voters in terms of their overall opinion of Obama and their willingness to vote for him in the remaining Democratic primaries and in the general election. Critical to these questions was the extent to which voters identified Obama with the views of Jeremiah Wright.

A Fox News poll taken immediately after Obama's speech on the evenings of March 18 and March 19 found that 57 percent of respondents did not believe that Obama shared the views of Wright while 24 percent believed he did share Wright's views. The poll also found that 35 percent of voters including 25 percent of Democrats and 27 percent of independents had doubts about Obama because of his relationship with Wright. The racial division was especially noteworthy, with 40 percent of whites expressing doubts in comparison to only 2 percent of African Americans. A CBS News poll taken two nights after the speech showed that 69 percent of registered voters who heard about or read about the speech felt that Obama "did a good job addressing race relations.

An equal numbers of voters 14 percent saw themselves as more likely to vote for Obama after the speech as saw themselves less likely to vote for him. These numbers are markedly different from the pre-speech numbers. The numbers were less positive for Obama when respondents were asked whether he would unite the country; only 52 percent said he would, a drop of fifteen percentage points from a poll taken the previous month. A poll taken by the Pew Research Center between March 19 and March 22 showed that, although 35 percent of likely voters said that their opinion of Obama had grown less favorable because of the Wright affair, it had not had a significant effect on the support for his candidacy; he maintained a 49 percent to 39 percent lead over Hillary Clinton among likely Democratic voters.

The survey showed that 51 percent of the public had heard "a lot" about Wright's controversial sermons, and 54 percent heard "a lot" about Obama's speech. Of those who heard "a lot" about the speech, 51 percent felt that he had handled the situation well, as did 66 percent of Democrats 84 percent of Obama supporters and 43 percent of Clinton supporters. Of those who had seen or heard the speech, 55 percent were satisfied with Obama's explanation of his relationship with Wright, and 44 percent said they were reassured about Obama's thinking and beliefs on the issue of race.

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