Augie professor says president's inauguaral speech will set tone


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Posted Online: Jan. 09, 2013, 11:19 pm
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By Kevin Smith
With the nation's 55th inaugural address less than two weeks away, one Augustana College professor presented a brief history of the speech and offered his take on what the president's message may be.

Stephen Klien, associate professor of communication studies, spoke at the Rock Island Public Library on Wednesday to offer his vision of how the inaugural address has shaped the American identity since the time of George Washington's 1789 speech.

The inaugural speech has become regarded as a moment of "eloquence," and a chance for each president to engage the nation following an election, Dr. Klien said. While its impact is sometimes underestimated, Dr. Klien said that the historic speech has been instrumental in influencing public opinion as well as policy.

He cited examples from inaugural addresses by former presidents John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan to show how certain themes have been used repeatedly to convey powerful messages that transcend partisanship, he said.

While the message of each speech varies with the speaker, the inaugural speech is generally used to accomplish four things, Dr. Klien said. The speech is an opportunity for the president to acknowledge the inauguration as a new beginning, unify the nation, establish the administration's philosophy and secure a timeless moment in American history.

He demonstrated those themes by playing a series of video clips from speeches by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Barack Obama during his first inaugural address and other former presidents.

Dr. Klien expects the president to follow the same format during his upcoming speech, yet stray from his long-held mantra of "change."

Instead, he anticipates the president will bear the message of "staying the course" and encourage cooperation between both parties.

Still, Dr. Klien does not discount the president's skills as a public speaker and sees a possibility of him "recapturing" some political momentum should he present a "compelling enough repackaging" of his message from his 2009 address, he said

Regardless of the message, the professor expects the president once again to channel some of the nation's greatest orators by evoking powerful imagery emphasizing "heroic moments" and a "mythic U.S. history."

While each inaugural address allows the president to redefine what it means to be an American, "the values never change," Dr. Klien said.

President Obama is scheduled to deliver his inaugural address on Monday, Jan. 21.


















 



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  Today is Wednesday, Aug. 20, the 232nd day of 2014. There are 133 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Quite a number of Negroes have lately been brought here by abolition offers returning from the army in violation of the laws of the state.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Miss Tillie Denkmann, of Rock Island, was making plans to accompany a Davenport family on a tour of Europe.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The German advance into Belgium was going apparently without serious check. The American ambassador at Berlin published a denial of the charge that Americans had been ill-treated in Germany.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Seventy-two members of Rock Island High School's 1939 graduating class are preparing to enter college — 34 of them at Augustana.
1964 -- 50 years ago: One of the oldest buildings in Milan, which for a number of years has housed the Milan Hotel, will be razed to make way for a modern, two-story office structure.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Some are blaming it on the sudden influx of insects and the extreme humidity. Still others say the invasion was inspired by a recent movie. But whatever the reason, the Quad-Cities is swarming with bats.




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