In his 2009 inaugural address, Barack Obama digs into America's problems. And not in your standard "hey dudes, we've got some stuff to deal with" way. He does it with flair.
Also known as rhetoric.
Coming into office and facing a horrible economy—not to mention two wars and bad blood between political parties—he says we need to get back to those classic American values like self-reliance and faith. "Getting back to" is important here because Obama is all about calling on America's history to send a simple message: we got this.
Sort of like a basketball player in the fourth quarter…except the game hasn't even started yet.
So, the main idea? Look to the future by remembering the past.
Barack Obama's 2009 inaugural address looks forward to the future by looking back at American history, creating a historical narrative of progress.
In the inaugural address, Obama pledges a clean break from the previous administration's complicated promises of political unity.
The inaugural address is as American as an apple pie from McDonald's. Ever since George Washington won the first presidential election, presidents have delivered the traditional address to set the tone for their administration-to-be. After Obama won the 2008 election, he and his speechwriters prepared an address that would, well, address the unfolding national economic crisis.
Obama starts off his Oscar speech—er, inaugural address—by thanking George W. Bush for serving as president (lip-service alert) and thanking America for electing him. He then describes the state of the country as "gathering clouds" and "raging storms" (3.3). Before Obama, nobody understood just how much Americans love metaphors.
Throughout the speech, Obama expresses a new vision for the country that goes beyond the old debates about the size of government. In 1996, Bill Clinton declared that "the era of big government is over." But Obama was tired of political parties bickering about size. "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works" (14.1), he says. Novel idea.
In order to make his vision stick in the minds of his audience, Obama alludes to the country's past history, including the ideals of the American Revolution and values like the American dream and hard work. The idea is that government should go back to serving ordinary people—a populist Democratic principle.
Obama also makes a lot of promises about future foreign policy, assuring us that America will be popular abroad. During the Iraq War, America's role on the world stage was highly controversial both at home and in other countries. (Some things never change.)
We're going to get through this hard time. Trust me, I'm Obama.