Rhetorical Analysis of Obama Speech Essay

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23 November 2008
Rhetorical Analysis of “A More Perfect Union” Speech
The speech titled “A More Perfect Union” was delivered by Senator Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 near the historical site of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The speech responds to the video clip of Barack Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, making racially charged comments against America and Israel. The pundits and various news media outlets played the clip repeatedly on the television, radio, YouTube, and podcasts.

First, the Senator’s speech attempts to address the nation on their concerns of his affiliation with Reverend Wright. Second, the
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Furthermore, Senator Obama uses ethos to gain credibility with his knowledge of social issues that pervade our society today. He states, “The most segregated hour of American life occurs on Sunday morning” (Obama, par. 12).

He acknowledges that the resentments of the black and white communities “aren’t always expressed in polite company,” but these resentments are manifested within our society in destructive ways, like racism (Obama, par. 31). The audience feels that he is knowledgeable and credible on the immediate topics affecting our future and our daily lives.

Ethos is also applied on a spiritual level by mentioning his present faith and making Biblical references. He states that “more than twenty years ago [he was] introduce[d] …to Christian faith [with] obligations to love one another, to care for the sick and lift up the poor” (Obama, par. 13). He noted how “black people merg[ed] with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, [and] Ezekiel’s field of dry bones” (Obama, par. 16).

Senator Obama is altering the language. Christians did not exist in the Old Testament story of Ezekiel, but Senator Obama is effectively connecting with every major religion. Simultaneously, he is reaching out to the secular world as well. Being cognizant that everyone does not actively practice a religious faith, Obama chooses stories that
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