By using these facts and past references, he not only appealed to logos but to pathos also,
so that people understood and felt the effect of what could happen if the U.S. doesn’t intervene. Bringing up these unfortunate historical events demonstrated a technique of propaganda called transfer, in which Obama brought up the negative qualities of the events to invoke an emotional response in people. There are not many statistics in the speech, just some numbers and stories of what the Syrian government did. This was a rhetorically strategic move because people more often act upon their emotions, not facts that are fed to them. If the speech was heavier on the statistics side, it would not touch people as much and they wouldn’t really feel anything. With this speech, Obama really depended on the audience’s sense of pathos to get his point across and rally behind him. He used descriptive terms and emphasized the pain of innocents, especially children. When watching the speech, I noticed that when talking about all the pain and deaths he paused after almost every line. I believe he did this so that people would have more time to think about this and let the sadness set in. It also seemed as if he was taking a break to think about how horrible everything was. Fear, fury, sorrow, and hope were some of the emotions that came to me when reading and hearing his speech. Obama does not convey a lot of emotion when giving speeches, but you can still feel sad when hearing about all the horrible things that had been done. “Prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death […],” and “[…] children writing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor […]” are meant to make people step back and ask, “What can I do?” These statements, along with all the facts about what else the Assad regime has done, are meant to make people feel anger towards the Assad regime and want to attack.
President Obama relied on people’s morality and ethical values when judging the situation. He focused on what the American duty is and how we need to do what its right.
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- Fall '08
- Rhetoric, President Obama, President of the United States