The President facing an Unfamiliar Rhetorical Situation–1

In this episode (3 parts), President Obama is facing a partially hostile audience. However, the audience is not critical of the President because his policies are too liberal, but because they are not liberal enough. Chief among the partially disillusioned is Jon Stewart. Some quick background information. While Jon Stewart was initially very supportive of the President when he was first elected, Stewart has grown frustrated with the Presidents inability to pass climate legislation, the still high unemployment, a healthcare bill that was not comprehensive enough and the lack of immigration reform. It is within this context that President Obama appeared on the Daily Show.

President Obama must have known the rhetorical situation coming into the interview. While the audience and the interviewer are sympathetic to the President’s ideology, they are not satisfied with his performance while in office. For Obama, this situation is not one where he has to refute being a radical but one where he has to defend his accomplishments. The President handled the rhetorical situation very well. He remained calm throughout the entire interview even when dealing with tough questions, the President corrected Jon Stewart when he was wrong, and was defiant when questioned about whether he fulfilled his campaign promises. Overall, I think the President did well conveying his viewpoint and decision process to a skeptical audience. While the audience might not have liked his answers, by appearing on Jon Stewart’s show and taking tough questions from the quintessential disillusioned liberal commentator, President Obama showed he understood their point of view, which I think was important in helping to satiate his liberal base. To people who are disappointed that President Obama is not living up to your expectations, how do you think the President handled the rhetorical situation?


-Rob Gentle


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