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, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




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