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Rhetorical Analysis of Obama Inauguration Address - Essay Example

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"Rhetorical Analysis of Obama Inauguration Address" paper focuses on the inauguration speech of Barack Obama that was destined to be a disappointment. It was delivered to huge crowds in the National Mall just outside the US Capitol in 2009 and marked an extraordinary moment in the history of the US…
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Rhetorical Analysis of Obama Inauguration Address
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Download file to see previous pages Not only was the Republican regime of the two Bush Presidents now formally over, but for the first time in history an African American man was taking on the highest and most powerful role in America, and arguably also in the modern world. The weight of history on his shoulders was very heavy, and expectations from all around him were impossibly high. He was no doubt well aware that this speech would be broadcast across the world and closely analyzed by supporters, opponents, and other observers, and he very probably had a team of advisors and coaches helping him to get the content and tone just right, trying to meet as many conflicting expectations as possible, without antagonizing rivals or causing alarm. In the end, the speech was indeed a sort of disappointment since it dwelt on some hard issues in modern American society and was delivered in a sober and downbeat tone. The disappointment was deliberate, and a good strategy for setting a new agenda in American politics.

Overall, Barack Obama’s inaugural speech largely succeeds in meeting the needs of his American audience, especially in terms of logic and character. When he uses a more emotional approach, these parts of the speech are less successful, but this is largely due to the highly charged emotional nature of the campaign which led up to his election. This paper will look at each of these three areas, ethos, logic and pathos in turn.

Barack Obama chooses to start off the speech with an emphasis on ethos, or more precisely on his own feelings and his relationship to the audience. The opening address “my fellow citizens” avoids the more nationalistic address “my fellow Americans” that other presidents have used, and stresses instead the idea of citizenship which can be of America, or of mixed heritage like his own, or indeed of the whole world. The feelings that he confesses in the opening paragraph suggest modesty and humility: “I stand here today humbled …grateful … mindful …. I thank President Bush…” (Obama, 1). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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