Firstly, I must admit that before watching this speech I had never understood the “hype” surrounding Bill Clinton’s speaking skills–although I like to think I can be excused, as I was 4 or 5 years old by the time he left office, and though I’ve been interested in politics for a while, it certainly hasn’t been that long.
After listening to Bill speak about Hillary at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, however, I get it. He is a magnetic speaker; he’s charming, and he seems completely at ease with himself and the stadium full of people clinging to his every word.
Particularly up until 25:55 (while the speech is great in whole, won’t make you all listen to the entire 41 minutes of it), he focuses on Hillary’s career as a student, public service, wife, and mother.
After having learned more about rhetoric and gender in the first few weeks of this course, what strikes me about this speech is that Bill’s rhetoric seems to follow the feminine style of speaking. Though he uses fact (Hillary’s record as a law student and public advocate) to make a logical argument (that she’s a change-maker and, ultimately, the person you should be electing for the presidency), he does so through anecdote and emotional appeal. He evokes images of a woman who is hardworking and compassionate, supportive of her husband and devoted to her daughter, while still somehow dedicating her life to the public good.
I wonder whether people who are not enrolled in a rhetoric course are consciously aware of this switch in rhetorical gender roles between Hillary and Bill? Was this subversion of speaking styles a deliberate move on the part of the campaign team, or perhaps a natural dynamic that helps to make the Clintons the team they are?