The Craft of the Beautiful Opposite

Effective/Affective Rhetoric

“… To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West: Know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist…”

(US President Barack Hussein Obama, Inaugural Speech, January 20, 2009)

Build. Destroy. Right. Wrong. Extend. Clench.

Notice how some of the most impactful and stirring of statements, resonate simply because they call on the bi-polar and converse natures of our reality. With the parallels  already drawn between Obama and JFK, we rewind to some of Kennedy’s words at his inauguration on January 20, 1961:

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”

There is an aesthetic value in contradiction; these cleverly-constructed sentence that are universes unto themselves.

An aside:
As if you didn’t feel inadequate enough, at 27, Jon Favreau is the youngest Director of Speechwriting the White House has ever had.

Published by

saaleha

I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on www.shootcake.com) based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

7 thoughts on “The Craft of the Beautiful Opposite”

  1. ” To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist…”

    Ironically some of these leaders are America`s Allies in the Middle East –

  2. You know what, i’ve come to terms with it 😛 His speech writer echoes his sentiments “beautifully”.

    Conan O’ Brien doesnt even come up with his jokes, everybody has writers, speech writers, script writers.

  3. I was so impressed when he gave the speech without looking at notes and then when I read about the speech writer, felt slightly disappointed. But, I still have faith in Obama.

  4. Impressive speech, but I didn’t buy any of the goody stuff he said simply because he is, as I said before, another puppet in a long line of puppets. The honeymoon period will soon be over.

  5. I heard this morning, that his speech writer was only 27, I think he is brilliant, but I also think Obama delivers them perfectly. Can you imagine Thabo Mbeki delivering that speech in his monotone voice 🙂

  6. Its amazing the way the young speech writer ahs learnt to use opposites so effectively.
    Its even better when the one saying the speech has charisma to deliver it.

    Gosh the dude is young aint he?!

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