Analysis: One of Obama’s best speeches ever at Mandela memorial

Thando Kumene, 6, (L) and Ntokozo Mtampo, 4, watch an address by President of the United States Barack Obama on a television inside their Soweto home during the official memorial service for Nelson Mandela on December 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Thando Kumene, 6, left, and Ntokozo Mtampo, 4, watch an address by President Barack Obama on a television inside their Soweto home during the official memorial service for Nelson Mandela on Dec. 10 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Credit: Getty Images

At Nelson Mandela’s memorial celebration on Tuesday, President Barack Obama was back in fine rhetorical form, giving a stirring speech that reminded many listeners of the spellbinding speaker of the 2008 election campaign.

But was it one of his best speeches? Metro spoke with Peter Ubertaccio, professor of political science at Stonehill College.

Metro: Where does this speech rank in Obama’s repertoire? Is he back in rhetorical form?

Ubertaccio: It’s one of his best speeches and best deliveries ever. When he speaks about struggle and unity, he’s at his best. He’s the best speechmaker the U.S. has seen in years, and it’s moving to see an African-American president at an event like this, where he’s able to address the struggle for racial equality.

How does it compare to his recent domestic speeches?

He’s far better when he can address a large narrative. When he has to talk about mundane things, he seems uninterested, even frustrated. And, especially with the growing polarization in U.S. politics, giving a domestic speech is harder. You can’t speak about grand themes the way you can on the international stage.

Does it rank right up there with the great political speeches of world history, like “I have a dream” and “Blood, sweat and tears”?

I think it will rank highly, simply because of the significance of the moment.

The five greatest speeches in US history

  • Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address
  • Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech
  • John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address
  • Ronald Reagan’s speech following the Challenger disaster
  • Lincoln’s second inaugural address


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…

International

U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…

National

Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…

National

Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…

Television

Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.

Music

Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm

Movies

Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.

Movies

Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."

NFL

3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…

NFL

3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…