The American rhetoric of Presidents like Barack Hussein Obama and John F. Kennedy, who both served the United States of America are found in the corners of history. The inaugural speeches of Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy are given after reciting the oath of office as newly elected leaders of the country in the case of Kennedy and a second inauguration for the current commander-of-chief. The inaugural speeches of John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama are part of world history knowing that the United States of America is still the most powerful and influential nation in the world. Their voices in the inaugural addresses that they both delivered are very influential that even the younger generations could fathom. The similarities and differences of the two speeches run extremely deep. Both have used some of their spice in their written word, while following some of their great predecessors in theirs, such as Abraham Lincoln. In the case of Obama, he even uses some of Kennedy’s tactics in delivering his message.
There are four factors to consider in comparing and contrasting the inaugural address of both presidents, which include the aforementioned factors of historical perspective, manner of presentation, and the content and message the two presidents wish to convey. The inaugural address of each government leader is influenced by historical factors at the time it was delivered before the public. In case of John F. Kennedy, the speech was given when the country just won the Second World War via brave spirits of American fighters who redeemed freedom through death and agony because of the bloodshed. “To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge the loyalty that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny.”
On the other hand, Barack Obama delivered his speech amidst economic crisis that the country is facing with hopes of getting over it and further industrializing our economy as well. “Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.” In the first, America is enjoying the fruits of winning the war while in the second; the country is beset with economic problems that caused tremendous trials and difficulties as well as a growing national deficit. This is the reason why the tenor of Kennedy’s speech is focused on world unity against tyranny while the speech of Obama is geared more on economic progress within the country. The presentation of both inaugural addresses is very important and connected with each other well. This argument is more related in the first except that this is more detailed. It is undeniable that Obama is more eloquent compared to Kennedy that is why he received more applause from the audience (It seems like it after every word).
However, it can be gleaned in the way Kennedy presented his speech that he is more relaxed compared to Obama, perhaps, because the latter is facing more burden in saving the national debt, which the former do not have to consider as top priority. At the time when Kennedy delivered his speech, he is confident that the country is wealthy and even offered to help or assist those countries that are poor if permitted. Aside from that, the eloquence of Obama was given more meaning when the listeners who are present during the inauguration applauded him more; knowing that majority of the people believed that the residing President will surely save the country from economic crisis, something the government is “much better at than the people.” On the other hand, it was Kennedy who stressed that people should not think on what the government could do to the people but what the people could contribute to the country. “Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah-to (undo the heavy burdens… and to let the oppressed go free.)”
Coming to the content of both addresses, it is something that plays the largest role. Both men use many references to religion to explain the guidance of their work. As Obama states, “My fellow American, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction.” Many times Kennedy references this. It’s almost as if they are trying to appeal to a higher power to portray to the audience their mortality and normality. As heirs of the first revolution, Kennedy mentions that “Americans are willing to pay whatever it may be, just to advance the interest of liberty and freedom.” Kennedy is more concerned of world peace and unity in the sense that bloodshed caused by war should not happen again. On the other hand, Obama mentioned that the country couldn’t flourish long once it gives special treatment only the prosperous. “We must remember what was written on the Constitution, that all men are created equal.” Obama is appealing to the lower waged Americans as if the rich are the ones holding the population back.
He, like he also did in most of his campaign is attempting to appeal to the majority. Also, the way in which the speeches are given is similar. Both men, when coming to the middle of their speech when attention is highest, they repeat the same line of the speech as if to give it a higher importance. Kennedy spoke of “Letting both sides accomplish a goal”, while Obama spoke of the group of Americans as a whole stating the phrase, “We the people numerous times.” In resemblance, the two men’s speeches resemble that of the other’s as well as man other inaugural address. “Vice President Biden/Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice…”
This is a common way to address your colleagues before addressing the nation. They both talk of great feats that American’s have conquered, reminding everybody of the glorious triumphs. “The Patriots of 1776 gave us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people.” “It is our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began.” Really, the inaugural address is nothing more than a summary of what the new commander in chief is wishing to do in his term. It gives the nation a preview. Whether laid back and relaxed such as Kennedy, or a little tense in terms of Obama, really it all depends on the style. It is the message that is wishing to be conveyed. “Asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
Subject: Barack Obama,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 21 December 2016
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