President Barack Obama made history by being America’s first African-American president. On 20th, January in the year 2009, he took an oath of office as the 44th president of America. On this icy day in Washington D. C, Barack Obama gave his inaugural speech after taking the oath of office.
He did this while standing in front of a building which was built by black slaves during the period of slavery. This indicated that as a global leader, he recognized and represented people from all races, including the black and whites. His inauguration came at a time when the nation was undergoing hard economic times and the people were in low spirits, ready for a new leader who would bring change into their nation.
President Obama’s thirty paragraphed inaugural speech was well written and read. His speech was very artistic. While giving it, he made use of several rhetorical strategies that helped him to mesmerize and persuade his audience. Being a philosopher, Obama used the rhetorical appeal by taking his experiences alongside his vast knowledge of political and legal issues to demonstrate his competence.
For instance, the president effectively used pathos, a rhetorical device meant to appeal to the emotions of his global audience. He started his speech by uttering the following words ‘I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors Obama par.1.’ Here, President Obama effectively used a tricolon. This is a sentence composed of three well-defined parts which increase in size, magnitude, and intensity.
The words were spoken at a time when America was experiencing hard economic times and thus, such words brought a calming effect to his audience. It indicated that he connected very well to his audience who consisted of people from different races as well as different social and economic backgrounds. This was also meant to put emphasis on his passion towards his nation. It also demonstrated his oratory skills as the words easily created a rhythmic effect.
The president also used a lot of poetic words in his speech. Such words ignited the imagination of his audience. This is seen when he says ‘because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatred shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace Obama par.2.’
Here, words such as ‘bitter swill of civil war’ and ‘lines of tribe’ create pictures in the imagination of his audience, thus creating a better understanding of the magnitude of the situation at hand.
In another part of his speech, the president talked about calling his grandfather who was crying. By doing this, he was able to establish an emotional bond with his listeners. His speech was also composed of short but precise sentences. Examples of such sentences, in his speech, include; ‘The enemy was advancing’ and ‘The capital was abandoned.’ By writing short sentences, he was able to hit the nail on the head. His speech was also characterized with references of all Americans.
For instance, the pronouns ‘we, ‘us’ and ‘our’ were evident in the most part of his speech. In fact, Obama opened his inaugural address by using the word “us” to signify everyone. He also used religion to this effect. This is seen in the following clause, ‘That we are a nation of different believes, but we are all united in the prosperity of America, we are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace (Obama par.3).’
Such pronouns also made his speech more informal, a factor that would strengthen his relationship with all the Americans. However the pronoun ‘I’ was minimal. This could indicate that the speech was mostly about the people he was nominated to serve rather than himself as an individual (Obama par. 7).
In addition, Obama’s speech was logically effective. He was able to use the rhetoric of logos in order to appeal to his audience. By using facts and figures while delivering his message, Obama demonstrated that he was well aware of the history of his nation.
Obama was also able to develop his ideas effectively. He laid out the appropriate strategies of the work that was needed to be done to restore America’s economy. He referred to many historical instances to apprecia ate the past and show America’s position at that time. This can be illustrated through the use of words such as “forefathers,” “ancestors” and “generations (Obama par.9).
The rhetoric of Ethos was also prominent in Obama’s speech. He demonstrated a lot of honesty in his speech inand did not shy away from the unrelenting problems that affected our country. He recognized and established the relationship that he had with people who were superior to him, giving credit while positively criticizing their flaws.
For instance, he expressed gratitude to the former US president Bush for serving the nation as well as his support through the transition period, pointing out the flaws that the nation experienced during his regime.
He also made several references to slavery and segregation. At one point, He talked about his father who was a black man and mentioned a time in America’s history when a man like him would not be served in public restaurants. Through the use of ethos, Obama was able to make obvious his moral values, proving to his audience that he was indeed the right person for the job.
Another important aspect of Obama’s inaugural speech is the use of kairos. This involves moving the right argument at the right time or seizing the moment. In his speech, Obama was seen to take advantage of any opportune moment while addressing his main concerns to comprehensively tackle a particular topic. This way, he was able to address his main topics exhaustively. He mainly addressed issues concerning, the economy, unemployment, and lack of confidence in America’s political system (Walker 8).
In conclusion, while some critics would argue that President Obama’s inauguration speech was less inspiring as compared to other speeches he gave during his campaigns, Obama was able to deliver an amazing speech during his inauguration. The use of rhetorical strategy facilitated in underlining his vision and message to the American people and indeed to the world as whole.
Through the extensive use of the collective pronouns such as ‘us’ and ‘we,’ in his inaugural address, Obama successfully signified his commitment to the transition of America into a new era of hope where all counted. By using the rhetoric styles, he was able to restore confidence in his audience who were going through tough economic times. The repeated use of these pronouns also left a lasting impression on his audience and fascinated them.
Through the use of kairos, Obama was able to address the main issues affecting America exhaustively. By using simple and brief sentences, he was clearly understood by the general audience/public. Obama was also able to capture the attention of his audience through the use of poetic words.
Indisputably, president Barrack Obama was able to convince his global audience that he was the right person to lead the country through the current crisis (CNN). He was able to achieve this in the most stylistic, convincing and relaxed way. It is, therefore, no doubt that Obama was able to maintain his credibility in his arguments during his inauguration speech.
Obama, Hussein. “Presidential Inaugral Address.” 2009. Web.
Walker, Danielle. “Obama’s Inaugural Address Response.” 2009. Web.