On Tuesday, Obama delivered a major climate change speech at Georgetown University, discussing his plan for a series of green initiatives. Al Gore called his speech the “best by any president ever,” an opinion that is quite generous for the flowery rhetoric that was presented to the public.
In 2009, Obama stated that he would work to reduce to greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020 and delivering this speech represented the first step in Obama’s journey to get Americans involved to help him fulfill his aims. However, it seemed that the speech was strangely though simultaneously strategically timed.
This climate change speech was suspiciously announced relatively last minute and amidst a series of scandals that the administration has been facing. Though the speech was long overdue, one could not help but question why it was suddenly decided that now was the best time to tackle the issue when it could have been either worked out at an earlier date or after the administration attempted to find a solution for another serious and pressing issue like the death of privacy in America.
That is not to say that climate change is not a key issue that we should be focusing on and Obama had once before expressed interest in leading green initiatives. Nonetheless, one could not help but be somewhat skeptical about whether this speech was simply functioning as a detractor from the steaming pile of garbage that has been coming out of politics as of late.
Obama is, understandably a politician, and part of his work is to appeal to the masses. While Obama, like most other politicians, usually is not responsible for writing his own speeches, the individual(s) that crafted it may have gone a little too far with the poeticism, making the speech sound like a mass of information mixed in with a strong flair of fluff.
“It was an image of Earth — beautiful; breathtaking; a glowing marble of blue oceans, and green forests, and brown mountains brushed with white clouds, rising over the surface of the moon,” Obama said as he described the first photo of Earth taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts in 1968.
This is what he said in some of his opening paragraphs of his speech which was no doubt captivating, but also sounded as though it could have been pulled from a poem or some other lofty literary piece.
Throughout his speech, he took a classic approach of speaking about the good of the nation’s children a handful of times and even used the sequence of words “children’s children” twice to make sure the speech had an emotional appeal going. In addition to this trite, unoriginal rhetoric, Obama alluded several times to the “responsibility” that the U.S. has to take action and how the country serves as a role model. Of all the instances that he took a pushy patriotic angle to captivate his audience, this line remained among the most prominent:
“We will continue to lead by the power of our example, because that’s what the United States of America has always done.”
Sure, the U.S. has been responsible for setting some trends but in light of the current state of American politics, it seems that this statement is quite the entertaining hyperbole. Though some information President Obama used in his address was substantial, the time and way in which his plan for environmental action was presented certainly brings on some feelings of skepticism. Until more substantial action is taken, it will be especially difficult to put faith in the veracity of the words in the speech.
Don't have a basis by which you can base your opinion on Obama's climate change address? Click this link to access the full trancript.