Welcome to www.comprofessor.com a.k.a. Lynch Coaching: Media and Communication Prof's News and Views from Art Lynch. This blog exists to stimulate critical thinking, provide information on communication and media, stimulate discussion and share ideas. For additional media and other news see also sagactoronline.com. Thank you and tell your friends. - Art Lynch
This weekend, President Obama will give a speech that very likely won't be about the controversies of the moment.
year, a few schools get the president of the United States as their
commencement speaker. And this Sunday, at Morehouse College in Atlanta,
Obama will get an opportunity to take a step back and describe the big
The graduation speeches that the president gives almost seem to be his real
State of the Union addresses. An official State of the Union speech
reads like an annual to-do list. But in commencement speeches, Obama
talks about where the country stands and where it's going.
And his assessment has changed over the past four years.
Here's what he said at :
gather here tonight in times of extraordinary difficulty, for the
nation and for the world. The economy remains in the midst of a historic
recession, the worst we've seen since the Great Depression."
Compare that with :
we're going should give you hope. Because while things are still hard
for a lot of people, you have every reason to believe that your future
is bright. You're graduating into an economy and a job market that is
Here's what he said at :
an era when too few citizens answer the call to service, to community
or to country, these Americans choose to serve. They did so in a time of
war, knowing they might be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice."
And, in contrast, at :
you step forward into a different world. You are the first class in
nine years that will graduate into a world where there are no Americans
fighting in Iraq."
Since Obama took
office, he has delivered 14 commencement addresses. Among them: four at
military schools. Two at high schools. One community college. One
historically black college. And one women's college.
the president road-tests lines in these speeches that come up later in
more high-profile venues. Remember this, from Obama's ?
the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of
us are created equal — is the star that guides us still, just as it
guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."
That line , tying together historic fights for women's suffrage, civil rights and gay equality.
Turns out, he used the same line eight months earlier in :
young generations have done before should give you hope. Young folks
who marched and mobilized and stood up and sat in, from Seneca Falls to
Selma to Stonewall, didn't just do it for themselves; they did it for
That speech at a women's school focused on gender equality. And when Obama visited a historically black school, , in 2010, the commencement speech focused on African-American struggles:
want you to think about Ms. Dorothy Height, a black woman, in 1929,
refusing to be denied her dream of a college education. Refusing to be
denied her rights."
Many of these speeches are tailored for the specific group of graduates in the crowd. At , where 90 percent of the students are minorities, in 2011 Obama talked about immigration :
your ancestors came here on the Mayflower or a slave ship, whether they
signed in at Ellis Island or they crossed the Rio Grande — we are one
people. We need one another."
speeches each have a unique message, there are also universal themes.
The idea of unity and community runs through every one of Obama's 14
commencement addresses, including this one at .
finding that common ground — recognizing that our fates are tied up, as
Dr. King said, in a 'single garment of destiny' — is not easy."
is the brand of politics that Obama has always aspired to, but that he
so rarely attains in Washington. A few times every spring, he gets to
leave the capital and tell Americans: We're all in this together.
Obama pushes on a large scale, and a small one.
may look in the mirror tonight and you may see somebody who's not
really sure what to do with their lives. That's what you may see, but a
troubled child might look at you and see a mentor. A homebound senior
citizen might see a lifeline."
in these speeches when Obama talks about society and citizenship, he
argues that government is the vehicle to implement those values. That's a
core democratic idea that Obama has always promoted, including at the .
our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign
entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us."
In a way, this paean to citizenship, shared responsibility and
government has become the central idea of the Obama presidency. It was a
major part of his campaign as well.
These ideas are rooted in Obama's work as a community organizer. And today he hopes these ideas will .
they don't represent you the way you want or conduct themselves the way
you expect, if they put special interests above your own, you've got to
let them know that's not OK. And if they let you down often enough,
there's a built-in day in November where you can really let them know
it's not OK."
This is a project that Obama has been pushing since long before he reached the White House.
today, with controversies shining a harsh light on federal bureaucrats
from the Internal Revenue Service to the Justice Department, convincing
these young Americans they should trust their government may be a harder
sell than at any time in the past four years.