The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Visual Effects of the Setting and the Tones Created in the Oval Office

By: Alex Kaster

During Barrack Obama’s presidential speech on August 31, 2010 we as a nation were informed on the end of the nearly decade long war in Iraq. There were many things to notice during the speech both visually and the way the speech was given. Obviously everything in this speech was not done this way on accident. They do this all to create a mood for the American people.
I noticed in the president himself a number of things that stood out to me. His posture was very firm and straight. He did not use his hands to speak and did not move around. His hands were together and fingers crossed over each other. The way the president spoke was different also. His voice was very sincere in a different way than we are normally used to hearing. The tone I had was rather a sympathetic and compassionate tone. The tone almost came across to me as like he was apologizing for something and deeply disgusted in himself. However, the topic was not a happy one. We may be able to look at all we did for Iraq and be happy but we as a nation also sacrificed a lot for the sake of them. As the saying goes no one wins at war. It’s just whoever loses less.
The second thing I noticed about the setting of the speech was the flags in the background. I feel like when the audience looks at the flags it gives them hope and reminds them how great their nation is. I think it just makes the people think of what the country is founded on and its roots.

The last thing I noticed but in my opinion was the biggest thing that stood out to me was the pictures sitting in the background. The pictures were very visible. There were some of his family and some of him and his wife. When I look at this I think there were two main purposes that were trying to be achieved. First I think they wanted to show the nation that barrack Obama is a family man. Not just a man who has great power over an entire country. People can relate to this because people value a good family atmosphere. Secondly, I believe they were trying to make us think about our families during the speech. War is a sensitive issue because it often affects the lives of many families. I think people will be listening to the speech then space out and see the pictures and think about their family then think back to the importance of what President Obama is doing. They feel a sense of security amongst their family.


  1. I like the observation that the pictures were supposed to remind us of our own families during the speech. I guessed it was supposed to make us thing of Obama as a good family man, but I didn't really think that it was supposed to remind everyone that they have families too. - Lucas

  2. I like the remark about how Obama presented the speech and how his presents effected his speech. I always thought about how the pictures portrayed Obama as family oriented but never looked at it in the way where our family and friends were being addressed as well. As I was watching the speech I also noticed that he never uses his hands and remains very relaxed which helps him deliver the speech and make it more meaningful.