A president’s inauguration address can indicate his vision for his next term, rally the country, and make his play for the history books. President Obama’s speech had no soaring JFK moments and even extracting significant lines to discuss was rather difficult. The speech was unified by a “journey” metaphor and by repeating “We, the people.” The president brought God into the climate change debate, upheld the role of government as a collective entity of the people, made gay rights a part of our civil religion, and alluded to gun control without mentioning it in terms of “the safety of our children.”
Elected as the 44th president, Barack Obama made history being the first African American to be elected president of the United States. Barack Obama’s inauguration speech set a record for the amount of people there at any event in the nation. Obama delivers an uplifting speech to the nation filled with rhetorical devices and appeals that caught much American’s attention. One rhetoric appeal that Obama used was pathos. “Homes have been lost, jobs shed, business shuttered”, Obama said.
This is significant because this is a reason why Obama wants to make the United States a better place. This pathos appeals to emotion. Another rhetoric appeal that Obama used was ethos. “I thank President Bush for his service to our nation.” This means that President Obama respects what he did for the nation but now it’s his turn to come in and take the thrown. This ethos appeals to Obama’s respectfulness.
“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall…” The entire first half of the clause is an extended allusion. In this case Obama is alluding to the country’s two founding documents. The point of using rhetorical devices isn’t to call attention to the devices or to show how clever you are for using them. The point is to make your message powerful, compelling, and memorable so congrats to Obama for using them. Obama also uses figurative language like metaphor and parallelism. “Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace.” This is a metaphor said by President Obama with means change of movement.
The main point made in this paper is that president Barack Obama made history being the 1st black president to ever step into office in the United States. His speech had a lot of rhetoric appeals and devices in it which enhanced his speech. In keeping with Obama’s usual style, his inaugural address made effective use of rhetorical devices and figures of speech. He employed metaphor in reminding listeners that some inaugurations have occurred during “still waters,” while others occurred in “raging storms.” Similarly, he spoke of the “long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”
Obama used antithesis to highlight the country’s best values in saying that our economy depends “not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity . . . .” He also used that device to warn world leaders that “your people will judge you on what you can build, not on what you destroy.” It was a challenging speech, reminding listeners that we face difficult times, but calling us to face “icy currents” bravely. It was also a healing speech, embracing persons of different backgrounds and religions in the U.S. and elsewhere.