Obama’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly — Text – NYTimes.com

How do you grade the speech?

And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There’s no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.

In this modern world with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world. We empower the worst of us if that’s how we respond.

via Obama’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly — Text – NYTimes.com.

Andrew Sullivan sees this as a perfect example of President Obama’s suitability for office–for his focus and use of American ideals, not just military might.

John Avalon at Daily Beast also praised the speech for its effective rhetoric and emphatic defense of American idealism.

Others, at TNR saw it has “humble bragging” and “not as bad as it sounded” to NRO that considered it a flat speech that missed linking to past actions or cultivate a collation of the willing, for example.

In terms of policy, HuffPo points out that the speech may be laying a new framework for an approach to belief.

What did you think about it?



4 thoughts on “Obama’s Speech to the United Nations General Assembly — Text – NYTimes.com”

  1. I give President Obama’s speech an A grade. Why? The content was appropriate and timely. The speech was personable and was not entrenched in political jargon. He started off with telling the story of an individual – someone everyone could know. He carefully and diplomatically nuanced the American values of freedom of speech with differing perspectives. His argument was compelling. He successfully condemned the hateful message found in the youtube video while defending freedom of speeching and deploring the reaction by many Muslims. He candidly pointed out that the U.S. would seek for those who committed the crime on our Ambassador and bring them to justice. He encouraged diplomacy with Iran while signaling that the U.S. was committed to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He was calm and articulate. In addition, we all know President Obama is a great orator. Actually, he isn’t just great, the Huffington Post placed President Obama as the 3rd best U.S. President Orator that we have had.


    And I quote ”
    At his best…

    1. Barack Obama clearly and fully “owns” his words. It is evident to me that on the most important speeches, (his 2004 DNC Keynote, his race speech, the Tucson speech) Obama either writes them entirely or has worked on every single word. There is no replacement for this and even the greatest delivery skills can not compensate for words that were birthed from within the very gut of a speaker.

    2. Barack Obama knows how to work an audience. No president has ever been able to use rhythm, body language, pauses and punctuation and nuances in voice tone to “sing” a speech like Dr. King… but at his best Barack Obama comes closest. He has the capacity to play an audience as if it were part of his own personal orchestra and that is a level of mastery that few ever reach

    3. Barack Obama uses all “4 Languages” of human communication to deliver his best speeches. This is very rare and one of the biggest things that separates the top 5 from the second tier and great speakers from good ones. It is the ability to excite an audience with energy, (“Visual Language”), give them a compelling story line to follow (“Auditory Language”), rest their anxieties as you show an unshakable grasp of the facts, details and nuances, (“Auditory Digital Language”) and, most importantly, to connect with, touch, move and inspire one’s audience, (“Kinesthetic Language”).

    4. Barack Obama doesn’t “give a speech” when he gives his best speeches, he has a conversation. Many speakers “Perform at” their audiences or “Present to” their audiences. Obama, “has a Conversation WITH” his audiences, a quality that, like using the 4 languages, is seen only amongst the greatest political and business speakers.

    5. Barack Obama understands that the speech on the page or Tele Prompter is not as important as the audience in the seats. His ability to respond to reactions from the audience, verbal and non-verbal, to insert humor and add or adjust his own words, voice tone and body language to the moment, is a supremely high art practiced well by only the very best speakers

    Let’s face it, when President Obama speaks, it feels like he is speaking to you as one individual to another. President Obama doesn’t speak at your and does not come across like he is putting on a fascade.

  2. Although I do not personally support President Obama politically, I can appreciate his refined speech skills. As mentioned in the concluding statement of this post, President Obama speaks as if you are the only individual in the room, and has the ability to touch the sentiment of listeners. For that I give his speech a B-. Since his electoral race in 2004 it is clear that public speaking is one of Mr. Obama’s strong suits, and caused many of his supporters to draw comparisons to the late Martin Luther King. Regardless of his ability to speak and the powerful use of syntax, I often find the content of his speeches lacking. In this analysis many critics found his overall speech moving and a demonstration of his skills as a leader, but found fault in his actual content. While it is vitally important for a President to have sophisticated leadership skills, I find more comfort in their ability to understand and discuss relevant issues and provide viable solutions. His words and sentence structure may be moving and eloquent, but words alone are not enough to evoke change. I personally expected more solutions to be named in President Obama’s speech, and I found it entirely lacking in actual plans for change.

  3. @Troy: Really cool article. I had no idea that President Obama wrote his own speeches. That really is impressive. In this particular speech, his combination of eloquence and concrete examples really does compel the listener/reader to believe change is both possible and essential. Overall, it was a great speech.

    That said, there was one thing in particular that caught my attention: President Obama seemed to speak an awful lot about “American ideals.” Yes, he mentioned that they are not just ours, but everyone’s. However, as he illustrated later on, not everyone holds the same ideals. I guess I have a question more than a criticism: What are speeches like this at the UN General Assembly really for? Are they just to inspire? Was his speech linked to some kind of resolution? I’m not going to accuse him of not having a concrete plan; after all, that’s usually not what speeches are for. But is this speech connected somehow to a concrete plan? I hope we can learn more about the role that speeches have in “global dance.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s