A Modern-Day Fireside Chat

Editor's note: This is one in a semester-long series of entries by students participating in the EN330 "political communication" course at Saint Anselm College. Students will be invited by Fr. Jerome Day, O.S.B. to submit their weekly logs to the Saint Anselm College blog, offering a glimpse inside "America's Classroom" as we approach the 2012 New Hampshire primary.


Meghan Gill
September 28, 2011

President Obama

President Obama gestures during the June 2007 CNN debate, held at Saint Anselm College

Amid the air of reelection uncertainty, Obama and his team appear to be regrouping and re-strategizing. According to the National Journal, “This is a time when the president needs to find his inner Bill Clinton, and feel America's pain. Think a 21st century version of FDR’s "fireside chat.” Despite receiving criticism for his administration’s relationship with Israel, the President released a video on Tuesday, the Jewish New Year. In his video message, Mr. Obama wished the Jewish people a year “full of health, happiness, and peace,” while reaffirming the United States’ commitment to the State of Israel. As Obama’s Jewish support diminishes, one could argue his recent video message is a communication strategy to court the Jewish vote.

An annual survey conducted this month revealed that the American Jewish adults are disappointed in Mr.Obama’s dealings with Israel. Their disappointment is reflected in the dwindling support for Obama over the last year. According to a survey by a Jewish advocacy group, approval of Obama’s performance declined to 45%, with another 48% disapproving. President Obama is no longer in a position to lose a vital demographic. Therefore, in order to dispel certain fears, Obama confirmed via his video message that “the United States will continue to stand with Israel, because the bond between our two nations in unshakable.” In addition to word, Mr.Obama has validated his commitment by opposing Palestine’s current U.N bid for statehood. These positive reinforcements are appeasing some concerns. For example, “Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch endorsed Mr.Obama’s re-election bid today, saying the president’s remarks at he U.N reassured him about he president’s policies” (CBS News).

During his speech, President Obama identified Israel’s struggles with American troubles. This link allows Mr.Obama to identify with the Jewish people on a national and personal level. In addition, the State of Israel was defined as one “of our closest allies.” President Obama continues to portray a strong connection between the United States and Israel, with himself as the champion of the bond. Obama’s continual emphasis on positive relations bolsters his connection with the Jewish people, and enhances his Jewish American voters.

Obama’s video message cleverly blended well wishes and future promises. The outcome of this election remains unknown. However, I would venture to say that in addition to Mr.Obama’s actions at the U.N, his video greeting will garner him necessary support. As Obama loses additional support from other demographics, I wonder how his administration will reach out to the various groups. The media plays a vital role in determining the success of a candidate. The positive feedback resulting from his U.N speech and subsequent video release demonstrates the power of the media. The candidates can personalize messages to voters and reach them on a cyber realm. Social media facilitates greater interaction than ever before. This speech to the Jewish people illustrates the importance of social media, and the importance of maintaing beneficial relationships with important demographics.