Ethos, Logos, and Pathos: Not a Three and Easy Balance
The 2004 Democratic National Convention’s (DNC) tranquilized the summer’s heated campaigns and inspired a divided America. At the DNC, a little-known United States junior senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, infused the “audacity of hope” into America with his keynote address. Inspirational and persuasive, the speech brought John Kerry closer to the White House and Obama into the hearts of millions. Obama’s 2004 DNC speech favored pathetic appeals and equanimous language to advance the political careers of John Kerry and his keynote appraiser.
Barack Obama’s ethical appeals established credibility. His family’s unlikely success epitomized the American Dream. His first ethical appeal, “Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place: America…,” was cleverly placed at the beginning of his speech. His subsequent ethical appeals were effective, because he established common ground with his audience. Although his live audience was Washington’s political circle at the DNC, most audience members were ordinary Americans, both liberals and conservatives, watching the televised event. His first ethical appeal resonated with the latter audience. He mentioned several instances where he spoke with struggling Americans, boosting trust with his audience. As keynote speaker, Obama represented the Democratic Party. When Obama mentioned his encounter with a young man joining the military, Obama established DFL trust with his audience by advocating unequivocal veteran benefits.
When Obama turned to facts and numerical figures, he used logical appeals. For example, when explaining the hardships that Maytag’s outsourcing movement had caused, he relied on logical appeals. He insisted that outsourcing caused parents to compete with teenagers for jobs that pay seven dollars an hour. In another situation, Obama met a father who was “losing his job and choking back tears,...