Posts Tagged ‘rhetoric’
Part one, in a two part series exploring the intersection of rhetoric and pragmatism in the politics of Barack Obama. Part two is here.
A lot of people watched the Obama inauguration speech waiting for what I found myself calling “the Kennedy moment.” They listened intently for that one line, that marvelous sound bite, that piece of undeniable wisdom, that defining sentence that helps us define ourselves just a little bit better in this troubled time. Obama’s best speeches have done this to great effect.
In the weeks since the inauguration there has not been much agreement on which, if any, one phrase settled in the minds of the nation as the sum of the entire speech. It’s likely that those who did find what they were looking for in his speech, found it in different places, identifying with various pieces of what was a complex and wide-ranging address.
For me, the line that stood out in Obama’s speech was not aspirational or inspirational. It was not a call to serve or a call to act. At best, it was a clarification – but an important one. One our nation has needed to hear and one that, for me, indicated volumes about how Obama will approach his work as president. Read the rest of this entry »
In recent weeks, much has been made about Obama releasing his first weekly address on YouTube. While I was glad to see Obama continuing to push traditional aspects of governing into new media realms, I was not that surprised to see him using YouTube. YouTube had been a key platform throughout his campaign, through both videos he released and an uncountable library of videos created by his supporters. It seemed obvious that he would continue to have a presence in the online video space after the election.
Obama, after all, was made for YouTube. He is a brilliant public speaker who comes off as composed and thoughtful in front of the camera and has the rare ability to translate the passion and energy that he presents live on stage into the more intimate setting of online video. Read the rest of this entry »
In early 2007 I was asked to write a series of blog posts for a youth conservation organization examining the intersection of service, civil rights, and the environment for Martin Luther King Day. In one of those posts I mused about MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech from the 1963 March on Washington. Actually, I mused on the way that MLK was introduced to the crowd gathered there on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The person who introduced King called him the moral leader of our nation.
When I was writing in early 2007 I commented on how striking this phrase was, because I couldn’t imagine any one person today being called the moral leader of our country. Moral leadership, at least on the national political stage, was all but absent. However, that same week a Senator from Chicago stood on the steps of Illinois’ Old State Capital (where Abraham Lincoln had stood before him) and announced he was running for president of the United States. At the time I didn’t know much about Barack Obama, but now, twenty months later we have all learned volumes about who he is and what he stands for, and I am beginning to hope that moral leadership may be on the rise again. Read the rest of this entry »