Obama’s Favorite Trick


Anyone who is familiar with Obama’s politics and had a pulse during the 2008 Presidential campaign should no doubt recognize his ability to use unifying tactics to great effect.  Speculators have widely asserted that Obama is one of the greater speakers of our time, drawing comparisons to great orators such as Martin Luther King Jr.  It is interesting, however, in the context of this Public Address course to break down his preferred tactics.

In an address made shortly after the midterm elections, when Republicans gained significant ground in the House  and the Senate, Obama spoke about the need to put aside differences and address the economic and security-related issues.  A familiar sentiment, no doubt, and certainly reflective of what one could argue is Obama’s favorite took -unifying language and cosubstantiation.  In stating that “we have a shared responsibility” to find solutions to problems facing Americans, he implies the divisions between legislators while simultaneously highlighting and boldfacing the facts that bind them together.

He next addresses the problems that must be faced by his “unified” audience, specifically the economy and national security, before touching upon the pieces of legislation which will be up for discussion in upcoming meetings.  Finally, he paints a picture of what might come to pass if the issues at hand are not successfully addressed by those in the legislature, evoking an almost tactile image of relying on “old ideologies and stale soundbytes”.  He finishes by hinting at the future and how it is dependent on cooperation in the present.

Based on this progression, I feel that the structure of this address clearly follows that of Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.  He establishes the need for republicans, democrats, and independents to work together to address certain issues, touches upon where solutions to those issues might be found, creates a kind of abstract visualization of a better future which results from cooperation, and rolls that visualization into a call to action.  Finally, there is the powerful closing line, which would make Humes proud: “We’re gonna have to think not just about the next election, but about the next generation.”

-Julia M.


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