When I was watching Obama speak and reading along with the transcript, this passage – the climax of the speech – caught my eye with its soaring rhetoric and its emulation of a frame he used in his speech on race three months ago.

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

Obama sure has a way of framing the big picture, of putting forth a 21st Century version of America’s mission statement, that can be agreed upon by everyone.  In today’s speech, the senator links our patriotism, our love of America, with our quest for improvement.  America’s mission, Obama argues, is fighting the residue of that which makes it so wonderful, the fact that “every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares.”  In the collision of myriad cultures in America, we use the set of ideals we cherish – living “free from fear and free from want; [speaking] our minds and [assembling] with whomever we choose and [worshipping] as we please” to vanquish the complications and tribulations that sometimes form the product of this melting pot.

His emulation of a frame in his speech on race is seen in the difference between the second and third paragraph of this passage.  In his speech on race, Obama pointed out that we love our families, but there are times when family members disappoint us.  Notice he does the exact same thing here (mixing the two topic sentences together):  “I know my country has not perfected itself… but I also know how much I love America.”  This frame is the crux of his candidacy.  His challenge of everyone – to help rebuild our economy, to participate in national service, to work for the common good – is rooted in the mission of perfecting America because we love it so much.

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