Monday, November 3, 2008

Election 2008




Please post a brief comment analyzing one rhetorical moment from the election of the next American president. For example, you could take a moment from the concession or victory speeches. You can consider any aspect of the rhetorical performance: word choice, delivery, body language, etc. Two or three sentences is fine. To post, hit "comments" in the small type after this post. Click the circle for "Name" and write your name in--you do not need to be signed in or have an url. Please post your comment by Friday 5pm.

24 comments:

Veronica Li said...

I was surprised at how upbeat McCain and Palin seemed before his concession speech. They smiled and waved at the crowd, and I felt that was a gracious gesture, and a noble one that gives the impression of it not being truly a defeat, but a promise to all that they are working towards a common cause.

Ariana Borgaily said...

At the very beginning of his speech, Obama talks about the US not being just a bunch of individuals but a collective Untied States of America. This is my favorite part of the speech. The delivery is so powerful. The way he quickens his pace and shortens words adds to the overall effect of this part in his speech. It made me proud to be an American and want to unite with the rest of the country. These past few months have been about choosing between a democrat or a republican. it divided the nation. Obama made it clear at this point in his speech that he plans to unite the United States. His message and his delivery serve as a reminder that Obama is going to take care of the ountry in the next four years.

Elise Gibbs said...

I felt that the most memorable moment of John McCain's concession was when he says "The failure is mine, not yours." I thought this was powerful, which can be seen through the cheers of his name that followed. I found it very interesting that he said that because I feel like it was a truly grateful and humble thing to say, and it was an effective rhetorical move because it probably caused a lot of people who disliked John McCain to at least have a little more respect for him, and also lessened the feeling of failure in those who supported him. It also took some of the "failure" away from the GOP and put it on him as a person, which was an effective rhetorical move in terms of advancing/lessening the blow to the GOP.

Election2008 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
courtney clayton said...

Sen. McCain seemed defeated and somber in his consession to Sen. Obama. His smiles did not seem fake, but he definately looked like he was forcing himself to be upbeat. His speech was gracious and genuine in tone and word choice. "I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you." Ofcourse, a quote like this is expected, but McCain really came off like he meant it to me.

James Samuelson said...

I think Obama's speech was amazing. My favorite part was when he broke his oration to smile to the side as the crowd started to chant "Yes, we can!" It was such a genuine moment that really revealed how happy and inspiring he is. He also touched on a powerful point when he said "I am your president, too" to those who chose not to vote for him. That simple, informal phrase does more to create unity than a thousand abstract words ever could.

Sarah Itani said...

Barack Obama starts his acceptance speech by stating that "if there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where anything is possible [...] tonight is your answer." The strength of this statement is magnified by the confident smile that President Obama has on as he delivers these powerful words. The power of this politician's rhetoric are not his words but rather the small things he does while speaking that are not captured by a transcript. Such an action was his heart-felled smile expressed while speaking about his family and the support they have given him.

elliott byers said...

I feel that John McCain was extremely classy during his speech. He took responisibility for not winning by saying the failure was his not the voters. Also I feel the manner in which he genuinely congratulated Barack Obama was very nice. You could tell that McCain wanted to win very bad but that he just ran into an unstoppable opponent. As a McCain supporter I am very proud for the way in which he handled himself. The idea that leading up to the election both candidates attacked eachother yet once a decision was made the loser was able to graciously accept defeat shows how both were truly trying to do what was best for America.

Robin Thomas said...

Obama's got a lot of responsibility on him now. He's been the focus of more media attention than just about anyone else, he's viewed as a representative of African-Americans by many, and he generally carries a lot of hopes and dreams. What a rough position to be in! I certainly appreciated the pragmatic tone of his speech. Obama didn't spend too much time thanking everyone or talking about how his victory was so great. Rather, he encouraged everyone to maintain their perspective, acknowledging that he would make mistakes. What struck me the most was his emphasis on honesty and openness. He seemed very sincere and humble when saying that if he could guarantee anything, it would be his effort to not veil himself from the nation and to remain receptive to all criticism. Usually, politicians seem to flaunt the honesty thing, but not necessarily the acceptance of criticism.
McCain's speech was great, too, if not a little long. I was impressed by how sincere he seemed as well, and how incredibly respectful his speech was. There were no hard feelings, and in fact, both Obama and McCain seemed to be stressing the importance of unity among the nation's citizens. That's a really beautiful thing; there wasn't any "now that our side has won, we can really get stuff done!"
I'm excited to see where the next four years take us. If Obama really does live up to the honesty and openness he's promised, then I think the nation will do very well.

Amaechi Morton said...

Obama immediately connects with viewers when he says, "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer." This was a very powerful statement. After hearing that I felt that despite obstacles that will occur, whatever I want to achieve I can. Obama connected with viewers emotions immediately. This gave viewers a thought of hope.

Raymond Braun said...

I think Barack Obama's victory speech will go down in history as a paradigm for successful political rhetoric. I was incredibly moved by the content of his words as well as his delivery.

I like how he attributed his win to the hard work of his many supporters. He said, "But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you," acknowledging that part of what made his campaign so revolutionary was the way in which it excited and mobilized so many diverse people hungry for a different type of politician.

At the same time, he reached out to those who didn't support him in what I considered a very classy gesture. He said, "And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too." I like how he told them that he also needs their help in order to accomplish the goals he articulated in his campaign. This is consistent with his mantra of uniting people to effect change.

But of all the successful rhetorical decisions Obama made in his speech, I think his use of anecdote was the most powerful . Everyone can connect to a story, and the way he described Ann Nixon Cooper's life was moving. Using Nixon Cooper as a symbol to show how much change has occurred in the past 106 years -- and to challenge us to consider what change may be coming in the next 106 years -- was very effective.

Paige Farmakis said...

The beginning of Barack Obama's victory speech when he first appears with his wife and kids truly represents the saying " a picture is worth a thousands words." It is reminiscent of Martin Luther King and his "I have a dream speech." Obama represents change in America, and starts his speech by addressing America as a whole, trying to inspire those that there should be no more doubt. Obama's speech has a consistent pace, but his words are short and emphasized. This draws attention to his emotions and the meaning behind each word he is saying.

Victor Haug said...

McCain and Obama handled defeat and success well respectively. McCain was gracious in defeat, wishing the country well under the leadership of Obama. His gestures to the crowd urging them to see the matter in a less negative light was classy and revealed a lot of character (as if we needed further proof of the soundness of his character). Obama was humble in victory and classy in complimenting of McCain.

rachel lindee said...

Throughout his concession speech, John McCain utilized optimistic language to exude a sense of pride and confidence despite his loss. In contrast to the competitive and oftentimes aggressive presidential debates, McCain’s final stand on the podium was exactly that of a valediction of satisfaction, or at the very least, a successful fa├žade of satisfaction with his less than desirable outcome. Firstly, McCain offered his praise and commendation for his victor and made a clear attempt to allay the audience’s anger whenever the words “Barack Obama” were mentioned. To further prove to America his lack of animosity towards his adversary, McCain bridges a reference to Booker T. Washington with his pride in the lengths America has come to having an African American as president. Furthermore, he pledges to “help him,” offering his “goodwill to come together and bridge our differences.” These words of union starkly contrast those often employed by both candidates throughout the debates. Noticing this transformation in attitude, from adversary to ally, an audience member may easily believe in McCain’s apparent support and confidence in Barack Obama, and furthermore, confidence in himself despite his loss.

cdonnelly said...

John McCain's speech was very gracious and left no feeling of animosity toward Obama. However, although it's important that McCain mentioned the historic significance of Obama being the first African-American to be elected president, he seemed to over-emphasize this fact. Every time McCain spoke of Obama's success, he equated it with the stuggles and victories of the African-American community as a whole. At times, this seemed to almost undermine Obama's success as a person independent of his race. It also could be seen as an "excuse" for McCain: he was up against factors so historic/important in scope that the campaigns really weren't on an equal playing ground. I don't think that McCain's speech was in any way bad or offensive, but I definitely noticed how he used this tactic to mitigate the pain of his own loss, and to refrain from having to actually congratulate Obama as a person.

CEE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maya Amoils said...

I like how Obama opened with a broad, inspiring statement in his speech: "If there's anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of Our Founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer." The statement was very rhetorically effective because of how of its repetition and by how it is followed by a short, clear, and powerful statement: tonight is your answer. Moreover, I like how Obama moved from these sweeping notions about our country and our future to very specific details...to thanking his wife and his children and even the puppy that will be accompanying them to the White House. This statements helped to humanize him in the eyes of our population.

savyg said...

In my opinion one of the most powerful moments in Obama's speech was his conclusion. The anecdote that he provided about the old woman who has lived through so many stages of America had a large impact on me. He talked about all the changes this woman has seen, from civil rights to the women's suffrage movement, and linked that to the possibility that America is presented with again to change. Sometimes when politicians add stories I get the impression that they are using a tactic to seem personable. However, Obama's anecdote instead augmented his argument by providing concrete evidence to the idea that the world can change. The story itself and his manner of storytelling was greatly inspirational.

Erica Neville said...

I found it interesting how Obama mentioned Ann Nixon Cooper at the tail-end of his speech - and how stunningly effective it was. It was like he created a counter-argument against the popular assertion that America and its government can't be changed, simply by mentioning all the things that this woman has seen. Her age instantly makes people respect and look up to such a long-standing figure, and mentioning how she, 106 years old, came out to vote because she believed change was possible, is nothing short of inspiring. I believe Obama hopes to instill optimism and determination into the American people with this strategy.

Also, I enjoyed how he connected the century she has seen to the century in our future - really emphasizing thinking long-term, past our own time, and into the time of our children. I believe it may be a purposeful foreshadowing of things to come in his time as President.

Oh Obama. You give me goosebumps. Did anybody else wake up with a strange sense of hope for the first time since they realized Santa Claus wasn't real?

Mike Sanchez said...

The embodied rhetoric employed by President Barack Obama showcases his strength, aptitude, and certainty in a positive future. Obama never ceases his gaze on the American Population. The ability to avoid a lapse in his speech and outlook symbolizes an oath to not lapse in his judgment as the future President. By keeping his gaze on the American population, Obama showcases his service to the people: he will listen and rule as a democracy, and nothing less. Obama is willing to provide the justice that has been awaited by Americans for the past eight years.

Katie said...

UHOH I think this is late.. For Some reason I thought it was next friday!

What I found particularly fascinating about the presidential elections on Tuesday was McCain's concession speech. Once it was speculated that Obama was indeed going to win the presidential election, McCain spoke to the american people not solely about his own campaign and points of view, but about the future of this country. Against the barrage of 'Boos' that follow Obama's name, and the silence of his audience McCain he talks about his admiration for his competitor. Although he lost, he calls for his followers to come together under Obama because, as McCain explains, the bigger issue is the world that we leave our children--it's ultimately our efforts as citizens that make the biggest difference. The respect he gives Obama, and the simple way in which he clearly, honestly addresses his audience defines his performance. Through his rhetoric, McCain becomes the honorable loser.

Albert Lai said...

Ah, sorry, I do believe that I'm late.

One of the strongest rhetorical devices that Obama uses is the repetition of key phrases and the use of tricolon in his speech at certain times. For example, near the end of Obama's speech he repeats the phrase "Yes we can" to hammer in his examples of America overcoming any obstacle facing her . The repetition of the phrase is a short and pithy reference to hope and to the power of will. Ending on such a phrase, the motto for the entire campaign, is a powerful call to action.
Obama also uses tricolon to build up to his strongest point without disrupting the flow of his speech -- the strongest example being the ending to Obama's speech, where he sets up three statements -- that we will work for our children, that we will work towards peace, and, most importantly, that we, as Americans, can come to embody the belief that humanity can work together. Ending on the strongest and most optimistic example leaves the audience with a powerful sense of Obama's message, of accomplishment and hope for the future.

Alex Alvarado said...

I realize this is extremely late, I actually woke up to that realization today. I can only hope for mercy.

I found the most interesting rhetorical moment of Obama's victory speech was not something he said, but the initiative he took to bring his entire family on stage. I believe this was a strong statement, establishing that Obama will continue to uphold the family values he has so long supported. I think it was a move that attempted to reinforce that even now that he has been elected, he will not fail to fight for the things he said were important during his campaign.

jane lepham said...

I realize that this is a terribly late post, and I remembered needing to do a post immediately after Obama was declared president-elect, but I'm afraid I forgot to write one in the frenzy. I was surprised at how gracious McCain appeared in conceding the election to Obama, and thought he was very classy in carrying himself with such decorum and dignity. McCain adapted a slow pace of speech throughout his entire address, which I felt was reflective of his admission of defeat. Although somber in speaking of his own defeat, McCain did not blame his disappointment on others. The statement, "The failure is mine, not yours," evoked a lot of sympathetic sentiments from me, as I'm sure it did from other viewers. And although he did concede, McCain indicated that America was headed in the right direction for change, albeit not under his direction. McCain remained rather positive in his speech, congratulating Obama. I was very pleased with McCain's speech, but I believe that the audience at his address should have adopted his attitude. I feel as though the booing was uncalled for, even after McCain implied his disapproval at such attitude from his supporters. Although I admit that I would be upset if my candidate lost, I still believe that booing would not change the results of this election, and that we should remain gracious even in defeat.