Obama Echoes Lincoln and King in Dignified Tucson Memorial Address

Could presage a new narrative for the president

AUSTIN, Texas January 13, 2011  Echoing Lincoln, King, and, even, Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama gave his strongest speech, perhaps since his “Yes, We Can!” victory speech delivered in Chicago’s Grant Park last November.

The president delivered the speech with the cadence of a eulogy to the packed audience of some 12,000 at the University of Arizona’s McKale Memorial Center.  The crowd had none of the hallmarks of a hand-selected, pre-screened crowd that we have come to expect for such occasions; tickets were distributed on a first-come first-served basis.

Obama’s remarks echoed Lincoln and Martin Luther King in at least two respects: 1) the use of scriptural passages to set the tone, 2) and the emphasis on worthiness and living up to expectations of the children, particularly those of Cristina Green, the inspirational nine-year old girl, who was born on September 11, 2001.

Structurally, the address was nearly identical to his “Yes, We Can!” speech, Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream,” and Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”.  Though delivered to differing audiences in different eras, the speeches each had nearly identical ‘understandability statistics’ in terms of grammatical constructions, rhetorical elements, tone and vocabulary.  In terms of empathetic concern, he echoed Bill Clinton, who was often referred to as the “Mourner in Chief” with his ‘I feel your pain’ mantra.

It was a somber, sorrowful message filled with future-related, hopeful constructions with words such as hope, light, and love  address delivered to a respectfully attentive crowd. With the 2010 Mid-term elections now in his wake, this can be an opportunity to begin a new narrative for the remainder of Obama’s term.



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