Journal Entry: The rhetorical situation for this document is a handwritten letter from the outgoing president of the United States, Barak Obama, to the incoming president of the United States Donald Trump. The specific context is to provide supportive advice regarding the goals, objectives, and obligations required from the person in this position. An important aspect to this is that it was a handwritten letter so only Obama knew the contents, he treated this as a private communication from one person to another on a more confidential and personal nature since it was not printed and signed it was entirely written by Obama.

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Journal Entry: Another significant point is that he used we and us throughout the communication. This is key since he had spent the previous time distancing himself from Trump, not only because of the different party but also because of the difference in party policies, principles and ethical values. This is an excellent example of the rhetorical device called anaphora which is the repetition of words or phrases.

Journal Entry: Since they are from different political parties with different policies and agendas Obama stated that he could not give any specific advice so he based his communication to be in a more reflective manner. However, he did use parallelism to create a specific structure by numerically listing the matters of importance he wanted to convey to Trump, which was:

Acknowledging their own advantages and stressing the importance of helping others.
The importance of American leadership in the global environment.
That while the position is transitory the institution is eternal.
The importance to also spend the time to be with family and friends.

Journal Entry: Another rhetorical device he uses is enumeratio when he states that those who have been in the office are the guardians of the democracy and lists them “like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties” (Liptak, 2017).

Journal Entry: Once again his repetition of we and us is utilized in a different rhetorical device, one of amplification, which is to emphasize the importance of the subject. In this instance, it was to convey to Trump that although they are politically different they share the same responsibilities that are the elemental part of the position and the office. This also conveyed the principle of unity, that no matter which party or person is in the office they share the common duty for the people of the United States and the historical democracy and liberties.

Journal Entry: The previous entries have listed some of the specific devices that Obama used to convey his message to Trump. It was in an articulate and friendly manner, that he conveyed his meaning about the importance of the position of the office and that the person in this position is a merely representative of the office reinforcing the principle that this person will only serve a matter of years whereas the office itself will remain. He listed his points not as specific rules to follow but more as the ethical and moral obligations required. His beginning was well crafted as he congratulated Trump and then followed that while millions voted it was “all” who were supporting him. Obama underlined all emphasizing that it was not just a party that supports the president but all people. Finally, the repetition of we and us had several levels of significance, and one not yet mentioned is that although Obama was no longer going to be president he is still going to be involved in supporting the ideal of the office as well as the American people.

  • Liptak, Kevin. “Exclusive: Read the Inauguration Day letter Obama left for Trump.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 Sept. 2017, Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.
  • “Obama’s parting letter to Trump revealed – CNN Video.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Sept. 2017, Accessed 25 Sept. 2017.