From one of my favorite Griceans, Alessandro Capone, a look at the rhetoric of Barack Obama:
In this paper I shall analyse Barack Obama’s South Carolina victory speech from a particular pragmatic perspective. In particular I shall explore the idea that this speech is constituted by many voices (in other words, it displays polyphony, to use an idea by Backhtin (1981, 1986)) and that the audience is part of this speech event, adding/contributing to its text in a collaborative way (in particular, in constructing meaning). As many are aware (including journalists who report day by day on Barack Obama’s achievements ), Obama uses the technique of personification (The Economist, Dec 13th 2007). When he voices an idea, he does not just expose it as if it came from himself, but gets another person (fictitious or, plausibly, real) to voice it. Since in an electoral speech he cannot reasonably get people to get on stage to voice his ideas, he personifies ideas by narrating what people told him. His stories are the way he finds to personify ideas.
In this paper I consider the case of an electoral speech event in which, despite the fact that rhetoric is present, manipulation is kept at a minimum, as the speaker does not attempt to persuade the audience to come to his side, to accept his views, given that he presents his views as coming from the people. In Obama’s speech, I analyse the case in which a politician makes use of the people’s voices in order to show that he correctly represents the needs and sentiments of his nation, thus being entitled to represent them as a political leader and to do what is good for them. The speech emerges not as something for which Obama is responsible, but as something for which the people (in particular those attending the electoral speech) are responsible. Obama’s success lies in the fact that he manages to persuade the audience that the speech does not come from him, but from their own voices. Here electoral victory must be seen as success in representing the speaker as a person who impersonates the audience’s needs and sentiments. Obama manages to project himself as a person who animates a speech for which, not him, but the people are responsible. Electoral success is granted him because the people can consider themselves the principal (in the sense of Goffman), the person, institution or collection of communities which is ultimately responsible for what is said in the speech.
Presumably the speech sounded better than it reads.
In any case, this is probably the kind of thing I would be doing for a living if I hadn't flunked out of my 2nd language requirement.