It has been a long time since pure rhetoric has trumped sound bites and talking points in the branding of a candidate. With few p.r. and press handlers, Obama's rise might be a philosophical appeal based on our long Western tradition of the appeal of the art of rhetoric. Semiotician George Lakoff noted that the (same) issues have been linguistically defined differently by the leading Democratic Presidential contenders. Hillary uses "I, I, I" while Obama uses "we, we, we".
Today the polls show a dramatic shift with Clinton declining on the day before Super Tuesday. Some are trying to pinpoint the differences between the candidates. The NYTimes today writes that Obama is like a Mac and Hillary is like a PC, basing design differences on the style of their online websites, hillaryclinton.com and barackobama.com.
It's the rhetoric, stupid...the pathos and ethos of it all. The style of the oratory. Go pick up the classic Aristotle On Rhetoric. W. Rhys Roberts' translation of Rhetoric - A theory of Civic Discourse is the one we studied in political communication and is regarded by most rhetoricians as "the most important single work on persuasion ever written.
Frank Rich writes that Obama "preaches the audacity of Kumbaya" and "a poetically gifted president might be able to bring about change without relying on fistfighting as his primary modus operandi." I like to read Rich because he captures the dramatic political manipulations and machinations (he was a drama critic before he became a political critic).
It is my p.r. background that makes me tune in to the political use of the language and Obama is going past sound-bites and it is his rhetoric that is resonating with our population.
Go read Aristotle.
Obama's "Yes We Can" -themed oratory is inspirational. I have a supporter's mash-up as an example on the flip.
Yes We Can