Dallas Memorial

My Humble Observation of Yesterday’s Dallas Police Memorial

I watched yesterday’s memorial for the Dallas police officers, and with that, the two speeches by two leaders of our republic. I came away with two very distinct feelings after watching President Obama and President Bush speak, and I wanted to know why…

I went to my bookshelf, intent on understanding why I felt so differently after listening to each speech. I know I am partisan in that I am a registered Republican and a self described conservative. But I am also an American, and I respect my president no matter who he or she might be. Did my response to those two speeches differ solely because of the ideological differences between those two leaders?

Naturally I pulled out my Aristotle on Rhetoric, Plato’s Phaedrus and Gorgias to overanalyze in some highfalutin scholarly way. The problem with taking a scholarly approach to rhetoric is that it completely misses what makes rhetoric so powerful. Good rhetoric isn’t pedantic, it’s emotional. Truly good rhetoric elevates by using emotion. This political cycle has been a battle between those who use too much emotion and those who get upset because they can’t combat emotion with their own appeals to reason.

It wasn’t until talking to my friend Dustin while driving to work this morning that I finally stopped overthinking it.

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President Bush makes me feel like he’s on my level, like he’s a flawed human like me, and he wants to take this journey toward being better people together.

President Obama makes me feel like I’m on a lower level, and he’s on a higher level, and he is talking down to me. He wants me to be better, but he’s already better and he’s tired of waiting for me to catch up.

I mean this as constructive criticism. President Obama has battled with the image that he is a detached leader who lacks humility. Yesterday highlighted just why people might make that argument. President Obama became president because he had such command over rhetoric, and making people believe we were in this together. Despite all that has happened over the past eight years, it’s a shame that yesterday’s remarks show that is something that he’s lost.

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