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Obama Speech, Essay Example

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This paper purports to analyze President Obama’s speech on immigration through the lens of “glittering generalities.” “Glittering generalities” are typically defined as: emotionally appealing words that are closely related with highly-valued concepts and beliefs that carries conviction without sufficient information or recession (Wikipedia, 2010).  Obama makes significant use of glittering generalities throughout this speech.

The first glittering generality of the speech happens in the second line: the United States Senate

is debating a bipartisan ‘commonsense’ bill.  In this sentence, “common sense” could be considered a glittering generality; this is because it is difficult to say what a “common sense” bill looks like, or what the counterfactual would look like for an immigrant bill. “Common sense” in this speech is meant to contrast the efforts of those who oppose the immigration bill.  While their arguments may not be as strong (at least in Obama’s opinion) , they are not likely to be completely irrational or fallacious.

Another glittering generality used in the speech is the concept of “fairness.”  In theory, everybody likes fairness; however, Obama is using fairness in a special way, particularly because the immigration is ultimately giving citizenship to immigrants who entered the country illegally.  Obama claims that by allowing more immigrants into the country,  it will make the economy “fairer for middle-class families.”  It sounds good to create “fairness” for this issue, particularly because immigration is such a hotly debated topic.  However, once again, fairness seems to be a glittering generality, particularly because the illegal immigrant does not derive the traditional benefits from taxes that are afforded to others .  Finally, the last glittering generality used is a “stronger” nation- this generality is used because the reform is meant to make the country strongers, but it is not clear what that means in this context.

 

References:

Obama, Barrack.  Speech.  Available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/06/22/weekly-address-time-congress-pass-commonsense-immigration-reform.

“Glittering Generalities.”  Available at: http://www.wikipedia.com

“Glittering Generalities.”  Available at Institute for Rhetoric.

 

 

 

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