Friday, January 29, 2010

Restore the Public Trust

On Thursday, President Obama gave his first State of the Union address. In spite of any political differences between you and the president, I hope you will agree with me that his speech was masterfully written and delivered. Based on the principles we are learning in our course, I'd give him an "A" for four reasons:

1 - The president nailed his thesis. I'm not exactly sure what he considered his thesis to be, but I'm betting it was something very close to this, "It is time to restore public trust in our government." If that was his thesis, it meets all three standards for a great thesis statement—simple, bold, memorable. He used the phrase restore public trust repeatedly and especially in his conclusion.
2 - The president consistently fostered a sense of identification with his broader audience. He brought the discussion back to the common man or woman time after time and touched on the interests of various groups of Americans—families who have lost jobs and homes, small business owners, educators, Wall Street, Main Street, the guardians of our peace, etc. These examples help us know who he was thinking of when he referred to the public trust.
3 - The president provided copious support—Numbers, Examples, Testimony, and Statistics to help us grasp what it would really mean to restore public trust.
4 - The president played to both his fans and his critics in a credible, even-handed fashion. Not an easy thing to do, considering that the legislature and the nation are about equally divided into fans and critics. His credibility was strengthened by acknowledging opposing points of view. All are responsible to help restore the public trust.

The only sense in which the president's speech fell short of the standards you and I are trying to meet is that he didn't cite sources for much of his support. Politicians typically don't. I guess they think we'll take their word for whatever they say. Truth is, we usually don't.

If these tried-and-tested skills are good enough for the president, they should be good enough for us. Go back to the speech you are preparing and see if you are meeting these basic standards.

I urge you to watch the final section of President Obama's speech. Reject his politics if you will. Hate him if you must. But learn from his impressive speaking ability if you want to succeed in school and your coming careers. (

1 comment:

  1. I saw this speech. He really is an amazing speaker. He's so comfortable and confident. Anyway, sorry for missing class last Thursday. My poor little girl was up all night with nightmares so I ended up sleeping right through my alarm. Parenting and school don't always go hand in hand. :) haha anyway, see you on Tuesday!