Thursday, January 24, 2013

Marko's Musings: The Second Inaugural Address



Barack Obama has done it again. I don’t mean his reelection, but rather something more special. Barack Obama has a gift. Barack Obama is an exceptional speaker. He is a word wizard. He is a master of the art of rhetoric.  Whether you like President Barack Obama or not, you have to respect him.

Obama’s four years in office have been anything but placid, but it is often said that the things that make you uncomfortable make you stronger. The most notable of things that made Barack Obama uncomfortable were the recession, reelection, hurricane Sandy, and the fiscal cliff. And although people have contrasting views on the man, it’s likely that Obama has learned something these last four years.

Obama used his weapons of choice in his second inaugural address. His weapons of choice seem to be the climax and the allusion. President Obama is deft in the use of rhetorical devices, and these two devices are no exception.

President Obama begins by stating the things that make us American. He speaks of the history of the United States, quoting the Declaration of Independence. It’s clear that Barack has learned a lot. He speaks of a journey, and adroitly ties it to the challenges Americans face today. He notes that we are a republic, a government by and for the people. He uses historical allusions to successfully bring us into his speech due to our identities as Americans.

The theme of history continues. The necessity for railroads, the necessity for schools and teachers, and the necessity for regulations on commerce were all important ideas in the past. Barack Obama is a smart man, and he probably isn’t just saying those things. Those ideas seem much like the ones we face today. The necessity for more roads and highways, the necessity for more teachers in inner-city schools, and the necessity for regulations of large companies are all ideas that have come up in the last four years. 

President Obama then transitions into the unification of Americans, which was also a recurring theme this year. This was President Obama’s “power play” in his inaugural address. We responded to Sandy together, and we solved issues of legislature together. We came to agreements regarding the fiscal cliff together as well. This was all done together. He states that we were made for the moment and we could seize it together. This was one of the times President Obama reached the height of his speech. Here, it is obvious why few people can do what President Obama does. He incorporates climax so easily.

I believe that this is where President Obama’s knowledge comes in. This is probably what he learned from his first four years as the President of the United States. He learned that no matter the topic, we have to do it together. It will require compromise, but it will allow us to seize the moment we are made for.

Of course this is not to say that the President didn’t mention his own ideologies, but few speakers can incorporate climax the way President Obama does. He reaches out to the people, unifies them, then builds up to points that are truly pivotal. This is why President Obama is a word wizard.

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