After closely analyzing the structure of two Presidential Inaugural Addresses made by President Obama and former President George W. Bush, the perspicuous rhetoric of President Obama reigned supreme. Barack Obama delivered his Inaugural Address as the first African American president of the United States. However, he did not dwell on the social and historical significance of his election. Instead he remained humble, focusing on illuminating the social, political, economic, and environmental issues threatening our nation, and establishing himself as a member of the general masses. Implementing a calm, confident, and hopeful tone allowed Obama to reassure the people of his loyalty and determination to improving our country.
Without a doubt, rhetoric is almost always linked to the political world and the individuals who operate within it. For hundreds of years, presidents have been utilizing rhetoric to make their points and to outline their positions on important issues before the nation. President Obama certainly used many forms of rhetoric and rhetorical devices during his long journey that eventually ended at the steps of the White House, and he did not stop there. During his inaugural speech, President Obama put to use many, if not all, of the methods of rhetoric. To begin, the five parts of the rhetorical cannon, invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery, all played a part in the grand scheme of President Obama’s speech. Next, the President appealed to the audience’s emotions and made points logically, all while maintaining his own credibility. Finally, the audience and venue came together to create a space and atmosphere that was hospitable for the President’s speech. President Obama’s use of all aspects of rhetoric came together to form a complete, concise, and, effective speech.
Starting from the basics with the first piece of the cannon, invention, it is clear that politicians, including presidents, put their ideas together for speeches prior to standing in front of a podium to deliver them. President Obama had a lot of ground to cover with this speech, and he did not have much time to do it. He needed to be strong, yet humble; patriotic, yet welcoming of other cultures; ambitious, yet realistic. To accurately express all of his ideals and perspectives while fulfilling these qualities, President Obama had to refine the invention of his speech in order to make it effective.
Although the setting was very ceremonial, calling for a more epideictic form, the speech was still political, and therefore was also of the deliberative genre. Coinciding with the epideictic genre, President Obama spoke in the present, touching on issues that are pressing the nation, like the economy and wars. However, keeping with the deliberative, he identified how he planned to address many of the issues.
The next step of arranging the key points of the speech is crucial if the greatest effect is to be achieved. President Obama chose to organize his ideas with a general theme that ran the length of the speech. The theme of returning to the ideals of the founding fathers touched every aspect of the speech: the war, the economy, and foreign relations. By doing this, the President made his speech more cohesive and easier to follow.
President Obama’s words met all basic aspects of good style; they were correct, clear, and appropriate. He avoided all blaring grammatical flaws and he used a combination of complex and simple sentence structures to add variety to his speech. He chose words that are used every day, and therefore easily understood by the general public. President Barack Obama not only met, but also exceeded, these standards of style.
Masters of rhetoric have long taught and emphasized the importance of memory in speech giving. Not only does memorizing a speech increase a speaker’s credibility, or ethos, but it also adds to an image of organization and preparedness...