Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Obama and Speeches


We are continuing our analysis of political speeches. For our next class, take a look at two things.

1) Choose an historic speech from this list:
American Rhetoric Top 100 Speeches
You will use this speech as the subject of Paper #1.

2) Watch the Obama speech here on Thursday night. (You will have to download some software to view this speech. The speech will also show up on YouTube and other major news outlets, so try there if you cannot download the software.)

Post a reply, commenting on a moment that resonated with you, that seemed to have high rhetorical impact. Please also include the time marker of when that statement in the speech was made.

33 comments:

Megan Funkhouser said...

The moment that resonates with me from Senator Obama's speech was between 3:45 and 3:55: "We had a very simple idea... that change is brought about because normal people do extraordinary things...and so we want to open up...join in the effort to take America back". This quote in particular had an impact because it focused on how important a sense of community is and how each individual can do his/her part to help a greater movement, in this case taking back America. The simple but powerful word choice allows everyone to connect and want to become a part of Obama and the Democrat party.

alexcohen said...

The moment that resonates most with me is at 2:20, "If i'm not mistaken, Hillary Clinton rocked the house last night." Originally, I was in support of Hillary Clinton so when she lost the primaries I found myself in the group of Democrats on the fence between McCain and Obama. For the Democratic Party as a whole, the division between Clinton and Obama supporters severely split the support and I worried that the number of Democrats who wouldn't vote would be on the rise due, simply, to confusion and disappointment. A few weeks ago rumors began spreading that Clinton was going to support McCain just to spite Obama but her eventual support of the Obama campaign helped to ease the tension in the Democratic Party. The two of them working together, finally, is a big sign for the election to come.

Nicole said...

I wasn't able to catch the speech live, and I've spent a maddening amount of time searching the Democratic National Convention site, youtube, cnn, etc, for a full video of the speech to no avail. I've found a text copy, and can post a comment using that if necessary, but if following commenter happens to find another site with it I'd appreciate the link or directions to it. Thanks!

matt mccormick said...

I think the speech Alex and Megan are referring to isn't actually his acceptance speech. That speech was made earlier in the convention, while his acceptance speech was made tonight. So maybe the acceptance speech will be posted soon.

Aaron Cheney said...

Before I say anything, I think that it is important to say: there was no real single moment that stood out to me, unless you consider the entire speech a "moment."

One moment, however, that spoke to me occurs from 19:50-20:20, where Barack Obama says the following:

"Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the last 30 years, and John McCain has been there for 26 of them. In that time, he's said no to higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars, no to investments in renewable energy, no to renewable fuels. And today, we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Sen. McCain took office."

This is an interesting statement, especially the ending comment, because this technique he uses associates Sen. John McCain with higher dependency on foreign oil by insinuating that he has been in office for 26 of the 30 years that Washington has been concerned with the amount of oil we receive from overseas. True, there are many things about Sen. Obama that I am very enthusiastic about; however, his inability to really nail the point home with a concrete proposal or plan has failed to impress me. This, in addition to many other vague statements about how we cannot all agree on abortion, or gay marriage, but how we can some to some type of middle ground as people (neither democrat nor republican, libertarian, independent or other), to me reveals his weakness in proposing real solutions to these problems he addresses. For example, what does the fact that "we import triple the amount of oil as the day that Sen. McCain took office" have anything to do with, well, anything?! Sen. John McCain is one of 100 Senators on Capitol Hill, and this statement places the burden of blame on his shoulders.

Many great things about Sen. Barack Obama; this is just not one of them.

And if you are having trouble finding the speech, you can go to npr.org and get the audio from there directly.

Nicke Richie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Kennedy said...

Obama's acceptance speech delivered this evening- fittingly enough scheduled to coincide with the 45th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech- is certainly the most stirring speech of this election cycle, and perhaps one of the most masterful speeches delivered within recent history. After years of hearing Bush awkwardly stumble through hollow and lifeless addresses it is truly refreshing to hear a political candidate with so much charisma, charm, and fervor. Obama's eloquent reflections surrounding the meaning of the American spirit (3:30) strikingly present a nation in change. Within his speech, Obama continues to emphasize the differences that make him so appealing to millions of voters, namely that he is not a part of the "established Washington elite". He best captures this angle of his campaign best in the statement "Change is coming not from Washington, but to Washington". Obama's compelling choice in diction and eloquent delivery effectively renders him as the face of change and progress within our nation.

matt mccormick said...

Thanks for the link. The part of his speech that really hit home for me was from 32:25 until 33:40. Senator Obama stated:

"The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America they have served the United States of America. So I've got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first."

I think that this part has such an impact due to the fact that he is addressing the issue of a national unity that transcends party lines. Ever since Bush won in 2004 and the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, our government has been at a relative stand-still in terms of getting large-scale measures passed. Additionally, the Democrats alone have had trouble with party unity until recently. So, it is Senator Obama's attempt to create an illusion of not only Democratic unity, but national unity that makes an impact. He isn’t directly saying that he will be the one to bring that about, but in calling out McCain, he sets a new standard. Also, Obama might be playing at one of McCain’s previous campaign slogans: “America first.”

Eric Inamine said...

For me, the most memorable moment begins at 5:44 when Obama begins talking about his idea of the American spirit. His belief in America's strength to continue pursuing their dreams illustrates the optimism and hope he has in the United States. His blunt criticism towards Bush demonstrates his dedication and determination to see American grow as a prosperous nation.

lorraine grace said...

A rhetorical moment in Obama's speech that stood out to me was at 2:50. He starts talking about how he's seen change in America at about 2:20 but at 2:50 he mentions that he has seen change in his campaign because young people are voting, people who normally vote republican are voting democrat, women are reaching for the ballot, and so on. I thought it was really interesting how he had worked these groups of people, which he still needs to secure more votes with, into his speech. I thought it was especially smart of him to say he had already gained their votes since people in those groups who are unsure of voting for him probably would feel more comfortable or more compelled to vote for him if they knew other people in the same category were too. Also, I noticed they played country western music after the speech and I thought that was interesting too because I feel like that was probably meant to appeal to conservatives that would normally vote republican.

Lauryn Togioka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lauryn Togioka said...

The moment that I believe that has high rhetorical impact was between 7:56 - 8:27. Obama describes "This country is more decent than one where a woman in Ohio...finds herself one illness away from disaster after a lifetime of hard work...more generous than one where a man in Indiana has to pack up the equipment...watch it shipped off to China." He uses these examples to depict the many hardships that people have had to recently face under the Bush administration. By doing so, Obama is illustrating a picture in our minds that can be associated with the last eight years. Images can be the most effective way to persuade an audience. This use of imagery leaves a negative connotation with the Bush Administration in viewers minds. Also, by saying that these are the errors of the Bush Administration and the Republicans Obama is stating that under his administration he will return the country back to a better state. This remains consistent with his campaign for change.

Robert Thorpe said...

For me, the most important thing for a candidate to show is that he/she has a plan that can translate from simply trying to get elected into a real life situation. At(27:07) Senator Obama impressed me because I began to be more assured that he had a real plan. At this time he says that the way he is going to fund his programs was by closing corporate tax loopholes, changing out of date programs to be economically efficient, and by eliminating programs that don't work anymore. Though this is a very vague plan that may or may not work, the fact that Obama had the courage to even attempt to show how he was going to increase the government supply of money without raising taxes impressed me. To state these plans was risky, which is why this point in the speech was the most memorable for me.

Marissa DeCoteau said...

The most memorable part of this speech to me is around 20:37 when he starts with "Let me spell out exactly what this change will mean if I am elected president..." until 22:18 when he separates himself from Washington. I like this section because he is stating exactly what he intends to do if he is elected into the position he is running for. Then he unites himself with his audience at the end of that segment by saying "We will do this" and he distinguishes himself from the current government now by starting the next part of the speech with "Washington's been talking about our oil addiction for the past 30 years..."

bryanberens said...

A moment that I found rhetorically significant was the section from about 15:00 to just after 16:00 when Senator Obama discusses his grandmother. He mentions that he learned the value of hard work from her, a trait she possessed despite the fact that she was often passed up for promotions because she was a woman. Obama understands that he must bring many female supporters of Hillary Clinton back into the fold. By showcasing his close relationship with his grandmother and his concern for gender equality, he takes a step toward accomplishing this task. He concludes his section on family heroes by refuting John McCain's claim that he is a celebrity in such a way that he again identifies himself as a man of the people.

Juan.Espinoza said...

I witnessed history being made this evening in the Annenberg School of Communication. Senator Barack Obama delivered a powerful and reassuring spectacle as he spoke words of inspiration during his presidential nominee acceptance speech. I sat through the entire speech gazing at the t.v watching clips of my life flash before the screen, while Obama’s words resonated through the screen. I believe that almost entirely throughout his speech he favorable used rhetoric in establishing a connection with the audience as he presented past history of his life and current problems most Americans face. The part where he spoke about his grandma was especially moving, and well said, as I immediately reflected upon my life, and the people that are currently making sacrifices for me to be here. Taking a step backward to the beginning of the speech, Obama efficiently begins the speech with a soothing calm that is abruptly broken with a loud “ENOUGH,”(7mins. In) that sets the tone for the rest of the speech as he opens up the possibility for a new chapter in American life, for change. His attacks on Bush were clever and eloquent, making them fall even better with audiences, such as “taking a ten percent chance on hope” (about nine minutes in). He does this throughout the entire speech, creating witty and humorous commentary that both sets a balance to the seriousness of the issues at hand, and boosts the stamina of inspiration he holds in his speech. An example of this is when he talks about “the poor pulling theirboots out of poverty even if they don’t own boots.” Lastly, in his closing statements, he uses negation in a powerful close, “We cannot turn back, America we cannot turn back, not…not…not, let us keep that promise…” This especially helps his purpose in proving that what has began cannot come to an end, and that this inspiring movement cannot be held back, and so we as American must keep our “promise” for hope, and elect that “change we want to see”. Bravo Obama!!!

James LaPlant said...

A powerful moment for me occurred from 9:40 - 10:22, when Obama cites examples of hardworking, dedicated, and patriotic Americans performing acts of an extraordinary nature:

"A nation of whiners? Tell that to the proud autoworkers at a Michigan plant who, after they found out it was closing, kept showing up every day and working as hard as ever, because they knew there were people who counted on the brakes that they made. Tell that to the military families who shoulder their burdens silently as they watch their loved ones leave for their third or fourth or fifth tour of duty. These are not whiners. They work hard and give back and keep going without complaint. These are the Americans that I know."

By citing these examples, Obama attempts to win over the hearts of the American people by appealing to our sense of patriotism. Senator Obama seeks to remind us of what we stand for as a nation by providing rhetoric of Americans going beyond their "call of duty", either by showing up at their job even after being relieved of their duties because they believe it is necessary, or watching a loved one serve continuous terms in life-threatening situations. It is extremely effective, as it instills in the audience a sense of national pride.

kbrit4 said...

One moment that resonated with me near the 2:40 mark did so for a bit of an arbitrary reason. Still, when Obama was talking about who spoke the night before, he mentioned Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and then Ted Kennedy.

"To Ted Kennedy, who embodies the spirit of service..."

I mean its always nice to associate yourself with one of the most popular political families of the last century, but especially helpful when the specific member is recovering from an ailment. I think its nice sympathy points.

Jon said...

I feel like Obama's speech was full of memorable moments with high rhetoric impact. He seemed to grasp the audience's attention the most efficiently through the use of personal anecdote or real life example. This is able to attach real life human emotions onto these political ideas that have gone bland from the constant political tug-of-war that it has undoubtedly endured. He seemed to resort to these real life examples liberally, with a consistent positive response from the audience.

One particular moment was between 25:50 and 27:00. Obama begins by telling the story of his mother, "arguing with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying from cancer." He then goes on to list sick/family leave, bankruptcy, social security and equal pay for equal days work and says passionately that "Now is the time." Obama achieves in capturing the audience with his emotional anecdote and then synchronizing it with those social issues to make the delivery memorable.

Steve said...

One of the moments that I found particularly moving starts just before 28:00, where Obama tries to draw a line between what is the government's duty and its citizens responsibilities. It feels today that... time after time people are willing to point the finger at the government rather than see what is truly at the root of the problem. To use his example, how many less gangs, or juvenile delinquents, or young criminals would we have if parents made an effort to spend more time with their children? Is it the government's responsibility to not only take care of you when you're sick, when you're retired, when you've been disabled in one way or another, but also ensure that you can be a bad parent and still have your kids turn out well? It was an interesting inclusion in his speech because it's something that forces us to analyze ourselves. Is there anything that we could have done, or not done, that might have had an impact on a problem such as global warming? In a way Obama's saying that although he will bring change to Washington, we must also bring change to our daily lives.

michael Strauss said...

I have to agree with Aaron, the entire speech was moving. One moment that I found rhetorically moving was at 28:45, when Obama stated that, "individual responsibility and mutual responsibility is the essence of America's promise." In other words, Obama is saying that every American is responsible for his or her actions, but together, as a nation, we are responsible for our movement forward into the future of improvement. This ideology says that if we all focus on our own improvement, together we will progress as a unit. Obama furthermore points the focus on the individual and audience by saying, "it's not about me, it's about you." This rhetoric strategy is the same strategy used by early movie producers to appeal to the mass audience. I think this is Obama's strongest strategy, to appeal to his crowd and give credit to his audience.

David said...

The point that most resonates with me happens about 14 minutes into his speech, the part about "You're on your own." Reflecting what the current regime imposes on our society and subtly juxtaposing that with his main philosophy, "Together, We Can" he provides a very powerful point about how now, more than ever, we truly need to think of the common man and stop limiting all the benefits to the upper class. Simply "pulling oneself up by the bootstraps, even if they don't own boots" shows no growth and leaves a good amount of the public sans a steady job. We should be making it easier for the public to profit from hard work, rather than focusing it all on the upper crust.

bltroy90 said...

Senator Obama speaks with an impressive rhetoric that has the promise of connecting with his audience. An important part of his speech is at 6:10 when he speaks of pursuing our individual dreams while still working as a whole. This particular segment of his speech helps to emphasize how Obama works hard for his own goals, and also how his goals are for the everyone's benefit.

Nicole said...

I must confess that my inability to vote in this election has caused me to become a bit lax about keeping up with events concerning the political candidates, therefore this speech is probably the first I've heard in its entirety. I was pleasantly surprised with the power it carried it as a whole, but one moment that truly stood out to me was the section concerning the comment "a nation of whiners" made by the advisor who wrote McCain's his economic plan, running from 9:41 to 10:22

After bring up the initial comment, Obama repeated "A nations of whiners" in a tone that expressed disbelief. Repeating it in such a way set him up for countering with his contrasting view of the American people, one that was much more positive. Obama selected examples of bravery and strength displayed by not only working class men and women, but by the military families that McCain so often is associated with. His insistence that "these are not whiners", but rather people who survive and carry on despite difficult times praises the people that the Republican's careless comment may have disappointed or even alienated. His finish was also very strong, "these are the Americans I know", which brought listeners back to the image of a strong, united America filled with people who do the right thing and endure hardship. This was powerful because people want to be a part of the America that Obama sees.

connor said...

The moment that stood out to me starts at 9:20. Obama is bashing the Bush administration and associating it with McCain. He basically tells the people that if they love the country, they won't let America repeat a 3rd team, obligating them to side with Obama.

Keely Flanagan said...

The moment that resonated with me the most was about 21 minutes f=through the speech when Senator Obama emphasized McCain's narrow focus on the past while contrasting that with his own hopes for the future. Finally, a candidate who is actually concerned with the future, which is really what matters. The words "We need a President who can face the threats of the future, not keep grasping at the ideas of the past" have continued to resonate with me even after listening to the speech a full night before. These words are enormously powerful, and send an urgent call to voters across America.

daniel said...

The moment that most significantly resonates with me in Sen. Barrack Obama’s , is at 33:49.

“I will restore our moral standing so America is once again that last best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future”

This selection from the speech stands out, because of the comparison with the previous statements of more specific issues. Ending it with this line crosses party lines as everyone voter and citizen supports “freedom…peace” and “a better future”. Meshing these general American standards and specific democratic issues make this speech seemingly acceptable to both parties.

TJ AUNER said...

The moment that resonates with me the most was at 10:50 when Obama said, "what does it say about your judgement when you say george bush has been right 90% of the time.... I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to take a 10% chance on change." This line grabbed my attention and stuck with me because clearly George Bush's policies over the last four years have not been working. This quote just proves the Obama campaign accusation that voting for McCain will be Bush term three. The second part of the quote ( 10% chance for change) also deeply resonated with me because like most of the country I am hungry for change, and saying that John McCain offers a 10% chance for change is catchy and will cause undecided swing voters to think twice before voting for him.

Lea Williams said...

One moment that resonated with me and which i found to be a very effective example of rhetoric was a short passage around the 8 and a half minute mark. In this phrase Senator Obama appealed to the listeners empathy and patriotism by calling for a more compassionate government and giving the example of veterans sleeping on the streets. the implied connection is that veterans of all people should receive compassion from the government because they serve it. Obama also uses logos when he says "while a major American city drowns". The implied connection is to the disastrous relief efforts put out by the Bush administration when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

etown2890 said...

I would have to say the moment that resonates most with me was at 35 minutes into the speech when Senator Obama makes reference to the men and women serving our country. He said that they are not fighting for "...a blue America or a red America, but for the United States of America..." At this point in the speech he has brought together all parties, whether Democratic, Republican, or Independent, he was able to show us, or at least me, what America really stands for and that is unifying our people as one great nation. This was particularly moving because instead of wanting to debate with the other parties he was showing all of us that in order to achieve this "change" that we are longing for we must all come together and make it happen.

Victoria said...

Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention is probably one of the most powerful speeches I have ever heard. Obama did not pack his speech with details of his political proposal to convince his audience logically. Instead, he conquered his audience with a much more powerful tool-- the rhetorical device—through which he connected his audience, whether he/she was a Democrat, a Republican, or a Libertarian, to his promise to change. His emotional-stirring speech united everyone to a single identity – American.

It was hard to pick the “best moment” of this emotional-laden speech, for every moment Obama touched the deepest of my soul. The moment I found that was especially strong with his rhetorical devices was at about 42:02 to 42:03, where he stated:

This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores.

Here, grabbing the human natural interest to be a categorizer, Obama used the technique of antithesis to appeal to his audience. By juxtaposing contrasting ideas in a successive manner, he emphasized his point that a nation’s wealth, power, and richness cannot be measured solely by statistics, paving the way for the next part of his speech on what they should be:

Instead, it is that American spirit - that American promise - that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.

The parallelism employed here pushed his message forward with a greater degree in each clause until it had reached its climax. He further stressed his message on “American promise” with the following passage:

That promise is our greatest inheritance. It's a promise I make to my daughters when I tuck them in at night, and a promise that you make to yours - a promise that has led immigrants to cross oceans and pioneers to travel west; a promise that led workers to picket lines, and women to reach for the ballot.

Through the use of anaphora—the repeating of the word “promise” in each successive phrase—Obama amplified the effect of his message, imprinting his “promise” to each listener’s heart.
After the speech, who could resist Obama?

Asher said...

The moment in Obama's speech that hit home for me occurred between 6:15 and 7:35. Obama called upon the "American Dream", as it is an idea that many believe in, but few have truly seen as a reality. Obama addressed how throughout the history of this country people from all walks of life came together to defend the dream, only to see it slowly disappear before our eyes. We are now living in a time when it is almost too expensive to live- a time where families must decide between filling up the car and buying food, or between sending their child to college and paying the mortgage. As a new college student, I recognize these economic challenges because it was a huge sacrifice for my family to send me to USC. I also recognize Obama's point when he addressed the fact that Bush has done little to nothing to alleviate the problems currently facing the nation. His acknowledgement of the nation's problems and his notion to change them makes this moment powerful to me.

NeeCiiEffBaby said...

The moment in Obama's speech that hit home for me occurred between 6:15 and 7:35. Obama called upon the "American Dream", as it is an idea that many believe in, but few have truly seen as a reality. Obama addressed how throughout the history of this country people from all walks of life came together to defend the dream, only to see it slowly disappear before our eyes. We are now living in a time when it is almost too expensive to live- a time where families must decide between filling up the car and buying food, or between sending their child to college and paying the mortgage. As a new college student, I recognize these economic challenges because it was a huge sacrifice for my family to send me to USC. I also recognize Obama's point when he addressed the fact that Bush has done little to nothing to alleviate the problems currently facing the nation. His acknowledgement of the nation's problems and his notion to change them makes this moment powerful to me.