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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 Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.






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