A Rhetorical Presidency: Literary Analysis of Barack Obama's Use of Rhetoric During His 2008 Campaign

Essay by bpfoster87University, Bachelor'sA-, December 2011

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The way the public is persuaded during presidential elections is a topic that will be relevant now and into the future. Persuasion is a politician's best friend and is an art that is to be perfected if a candidate is looking to win an election. A person's rhetoric is the means by which they go about persuading the public to agree with their positions. Aristotle defines rhetoric as "the faculty of discovering in, any particular case, all of the available means of persuasion" (online). Elections are won and lost based on how well a candidate can persuade the public that their policies and leadership are in the best interest to their needs. As the media becomes more immediate and powerful, effective rhetoric in presidential elections becomes ever more important. Barack Obama was able to win the 2008 election using his superior rhetoric over John McCain. How was Barak Obama able to use rhetoric to persuade the American people that he was capable of leading a nation?

Barak Obama has mastered the art of public speaking, capturing his audience with superior oratory skills his competitors do not possess.

Capturing an audience in the first few minutes of a speech is important as to not lose their interest in the speaker. According to Start-up Rhetoric in Eight Speeches of Barack Obama, the president possess a way of identifying with his audience and speaks to them according to the situation. In the first minute of his speeches, he relates his life to the lives of the people in the audience. Before the listener even knows what the speech is about he knows something about the history of the man who

is speaking to them (O'Connell). He often prefaces is speeches by engaging his audience in a personal conversation, using verbal and...