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Debt Ceiling Duel Continues To End In a Draw

President Obama interrupted prime-time television Monday night to deliver a speech to the American people regarding the debt crisis and the looming August 2 deadline. Not to go down without a fight, Speaker of the House John Boehner responded with a speech of his own within minutes of Obama’s address.

While polls have shown that more than a majority of Americans favor the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan put forth by Republicans and a Balanced Budget Amendment, both Obama and Boehner did not give polished performances that came across as convincing. So it is worth analyzing the actual words and the frequency with which they used those words in their speeches. As more of the political debate happens online on social networking sites such as Twitter, politicians will have to be more cognizant of the words that they use in their policy battles.

True to form, Obama stuck to his usual talking points—the dire situation Republicans have put America in and the need to tax the wealthy. He even attempted to turn around the personal credit card analogy that Republicans have been using to demonstrate the ridiculousness of raising the debt limit in order to make it “work” for his own plan.

Obama took his attack on the GOP one step further by quoting Ronald Reagan, one of the great Republican Party heroes:

“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment? And I think I know your answer. Those words were spoken by Ronald Reagan.”

It seems that this quote was used to demonstrate his bi-partisanship and his own willingness to “compromise.” Unfortunately for Obama, other points of his speech negated this display of rationality.

The words most used in Obama’s speech were “balanced approach,” though his final plug for Senator Reid’s plan seems to be anything but. Obama’s talk centered on the need for unity, but the not so subtle attacks on the GOP throughout his speech make clear his unwillingness to work together.

Although Boehner also addressed the American people, it was clear that his speech was designed to serve as a rebuttal to Obama’s attack on the GOP and his proposal.

In his address, Boehner outlined the history of this debt crisis to demonstrate that House Republicans had focused on the debt problems before it reached this critical level.

In one of his more effective points, Boehner placed blame on Obama’s stimulus plan in direct contrast to Obama’s speech that blamed the economic climate and pattern he was handed back in 2009.

The most used word in his speech was “President,” a clear indication of the intended audience of Boehner’s address. He ended with one final jab at Obama.

“We are up to the task, and I hope President Obama will join us in this work.”

Boehner Speech Wordle:

Wordle: Boehner on the Debt Crisis- 7/25/2011

Obama Speech Wordle:

Wordle: Obama on the Debt Crisis- 7/25/2011

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Written By

Ashley Withers is a senior at Southern Methodist University studying journalism and criminal sociology. She is a part of the National Journalism Center and an intern at Human Events.

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