The transcript of Obama’s Cairo speech doesn’t do it full justice – nor does it convey how the speech was received by the audience. This is why video and audio of the speech are critical in evaluating whether the speech really marked a New Beginning (as per the title) or whether it was a rhetorical diversion from the status quo.
As Roger Simon notes at The Politico, Obama drew applause on lines critical of Israel or American policy or praising Islam, but was met with total silence when discussing Al Qaeda, extremism, and Holocaust denial. He did get applause for invoking democracy and women’s rights, and also when he quoted each of the Bible, Talmud and Qur’an. The reaction, as Simon notes, was a complex one to a complex speech. Only audio and video can convey these subtleties.
It should be noted that the official White House transcript includes applause lines – including one rather amusing distraction:
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barack Obama, we love you!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) The fifth issue that we must address together is religious freedom.
Audio of the speech in MP3 format is available now, courtesy of WNYC in New York, and here’s the video from the White House: