The political careers of past presidents of the United States have been strongly defined through their speeches. In as brief as 272 words, Abraham Lincoln’s remarks during the Gettysburg address redefined the country’s purpose. John F. Kennedy will forever be remembered for his inaugural address while Ronald Reagan’s “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” as he spoke directly to the Soviet leader seemed to be the bending arc of history. In a few day’s President Obama will deliver one of his last speeches as president; will his address leave a legacy?
The best speeches of Obama have been written beautifully, meticulously crafted and delivered in a theatrical way. The speeches recorded the nation’s fears, flaws, shortcomings and accomplishments. Obama’s speech at the National Democratic Convention has vaulted him into the country’s consciousness while the 2008 speech has actually saved a faltering presidential campaign. The best speeches however include his unfulfilled outreach to the Muslim world in Cairo, the address on the grim necessity of war in Oslo that won a Nobel Peace Prize and the eulogy for the 9 slain parishioners in Charleston, South Carolina. Obama works on his speeches and he is well organized with his thoughts.
Will Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in the next few days be inspiring and wise? Will it endure long after the bitter partisan politics have faded from memory? According to Obama’s staff at the West Wing, the 2004 convention speech will linger in everyone’s memory. When the speech was delivered, Obama was a virtual unknown. The speech was written without a speech writer but it became known as Obama’s love letter to America. In some cases, a speech that has a flash of high drama gives it an extra staying power. The President has given the Americans personal speeches that they have never experienced or heard before.
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