President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Last Tuesday, January 20, 2015, President Barack Obama delivered his annual State of the Union Address. While his speech covered a broad variety of topics, such as economic growth, paid leave, cybersecurity, the war with terrorists, climate control, and much more, rhetorical strategies were abundant throughout. Including many facts and statistics in his speech, Obama continually appealed to the audience’s sense of logic as well as emotion. For instance, when addressing the topic of the war with terrorists, he stated that “six years ago, nearly 180,000 American troops served in Iraq and Afghanistan, [and] today, fewer than 15,000 remain.” Obama strengthens his argument through the addition of this statistic as facts are difficult to dispute. By adding this statistic, Obama not only shows one of the accomplishments during his time in office, but also appeals to the audience’s emotion, further convincing the audience of his character. Bringing back 165,000 troops–father’s, mother’s, son’s, daughter’s, loved one’s– back home to America creates a sense of gratitude and appreciation from within the people directly affected, as well as many more. By pointing out this fact and appealing to the audience’s emotion, Obama is likely to gain more supporters of his efforts. Furthermore, Obama points out that “America is number one in oil and gas,” as well as wind power, and that because of the “lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, […] the typical family should save $750 at the pump” this year. Since saving money is a big plus for many Americans, Obama wins more support for his legislative priorities as he proves the benefits he brought to Americans during his presidency. By including these statistics, Obama appeals to the audience’s logical sense, and by doing so, he strengthens and earns more supporters for his presidential goals and work.
Additionally, Obama makes another pathetic appeal, arousing feelings of patriotism and hope, through his repetition. Towards the end of the speech, Obama points out “the example of our values.” Through three paragraphs, he points out that “As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened […], “ “As Americans, we have a profound commitment to justice […]”, and “As Americans, we cherish our civil liberties […].” Obama identifies three basic values-human dignity, justice, and civil liberty- that America was founded upon and expands on each and shows his actions as president that support each value. By repeating the phrase “As Americans” with each paragraph, Obama reminds the audience of the values–American values– he is upholding. He reminds them of the great country we live in, the values that we are founded on, evoking a sense of patriotism within the audience that ultimately helps him earn more support for his actions, since of course, they are actions based off the values that America was founded upon.  Obama also states “I still believe that we are one people. I still believe that together, we can do great things, even when the odds are long. I believe this because over and over in my six years in office, I have seen America at its best.” Obama’s repetition of the word “believe” evokes a sense of hope and aspiration. With the multiple examples of “America at its best” Obama includes following his statement, the audience realizes that America, no matter the challenge, will overcome. The encouragement and hope that Obama offers through his words boosts audience morale and shines a positive light on Obama’s legislative actions and remaining term as president. Though there are many examples of Obama’s rhetorician skills, the way he uses statistics and repetition to appeal to the audience’s logic and emotion demonstrate the profound effect Obama’s rhetoric has on the audience.


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