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Analyzing The Effectiveness Of President Obama’s Rhetoric

1397 words - 6 pages

Once more, President Obama presented the annual State of the Union Address to the American people. For the most part, Mr. Obama focused on the issues of immigration and health care reform, wages, energy, infrastructure and education; all the while particularly stressing the value of hard work. Like any other discourse, his speech employs various rhetorical devices as well as the elements of the “rhetorical triangle”: ethos, pathos and logos. Thus, in order to gauge the effectiveness of Mr. Obama’s address, one must examine the speech wholly on a rhetorical level, making sure to ignore any personal political views and notions of inaccuracy. Arguably, it also seems that of his various methods, the President’s most effective strategy was to mention personal anecdotes of people planted within his audience. Basically, it appears that the various rhetorical strategies utilized by President Obama in his address were mostly effective; while still, of course, holding some notable flaws.
Of all of the rhetoric presented in his address, it seems that Mr. Obama’s most effective strategy
was his usage of anecdotes. These instances seem to serve as great instruments for the performance of a variety of rhetorical functions. This is first demonstrated in the President’s reference of the first and second ladies; who he says, “ helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years” and, “encouraged employers to hire or train nearly 400,000 veterans and military spouses.” Having introduced the notion that the government can serve as a benefactor to the public, Mr. Obama then proceeds to note that, “[t]aking a page from that playbook, the White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit, where already 150 universities, businesses, nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education and to help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus.” This instance is noteworthy, as the metaphorical phrase, “taking a page from that playbook” helps to transition from the successes of Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden to those which were a result of his administration’s efforts; thus demonstrating the effective quality of the President’s employment of personal examples. By extension, this example demonstrates the effectiveness of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric, as it depicts his successful introduction of various thoughts, and therefore, indicates his overall mastery of speaking.
Such instances, in which Mr. Obama refers to individual persons planted within the audience, also effectively provide strong pathetic and logical arguments. Take, for example, Cory Remsburg, a former American soldier who was gravely injured by a roadside bomb while on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The President started the anecdote by building up the audience’s sympathy for the Army Ranger by portraying him as both a relatable, and an exemplary person, saying that, “[h]e was a strong, impressive young man, had an easy...

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