Shhhh….don’t tell Mr. Williams that I actually just read a transcript of the speech instead of listening to it. But I read it in Obama’s voice so we’re even, right?
Anyways, I think this is the first time I’ve ever actually read or paid attention to a full state of the union address. Sure, I’d hear snippets of it here and there on Buzzfeed and whatnot, but I’d never really paid attention to how the rhetoric of the president really helps to enhance his points, despite any amount of bull**** he may or may not be trying to push/hide. Whether it be appeals to credibility, logic or emotion—Obama’s got it!
First of all, if it wasn’t for the rhetorical concepts of tricolons and parallelism in structure, I’m not sure what all of these speech writers would do. I’m not going to point out any specific instances because the whole freaking thing is tricolon upon tricolon and parallel sentence upon parallel sentence. While this style of writing may seem kind of juvenile from an analytical standpoint, we should probably not be looking through our English teacher glasses at this. It’s all psychological marketing. People expect the president to speak a certain way. They expect him to say even the most seemingly minute and caring things, such as talking about children, in a forceful yet poetic way. If he didn’t talk this way, pausing for applause every other word and exaggerating every concept, his public opinion and his ability to appeal to every member of the United States would be jeopardized.
Within all of these carefully structured sentences, Obama targets the emotions of this audience. While he does talk about obvious things like killings and children and whatever to draw some emotion, the story of Rebekah and Ben is his main well of emotion. Relatively near the beginning of the speech, Obama tells a story about Rebekah and Ben Erler, newlyweds who worked really hard, lost everything, and rebuilt themselves. Although I’m not sure if this story was fiction or not, Obama was indeed trying to symbolize the American dream through Rebekah and Ben’s story. He made this dream seem as if anybody could have it through his policies. He made people feel like they could make it out alive too. He gave them hope.
haha I used a tricolon. At first I thought the usage of this story was unnecessary, but now I see that it really isn’t. While Rebekah and Ben represent a small portion of the country in terms of diversity and all of that jazz, the hope their story radiates affects all Americans in similar situations. So the story might be a load of BS, but if it gets what it need to get done, who cares.