‘How Hard You Work’ More Important than Income by Michelle Obama’s


The speech under analysis is the Michelle Obama’s ‘How Hard You Work’ More Important than Income. It was released in September, 2012, before the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The speech is released at the end of the first governing period and before new Presidential elections. The first lady shared her ideas about primary values of her husband in his day to day struggle for a better future of the nation. Michelle’s speech sounded persuasive, emotional and argumentative. She was warmly welcomed and praised by the audience. The first lady appealed to such nationally accepted values as family, opportune and American Dream.

Current essay analyzes the speech from perspectives of logos, ethos and pathos. Logos means reasoning and argumentation, ethos applies to credibility of the speaker, and pathos reveals different expressive and persuasive means of speech or the text of the speech.


From the logical perspective, Michelle Obama’s speech is built in accordance with the principles of strong arguments and reasons. The pragmatic reason of her speech is the choice in her husband’s favor in the new presidential elections. The logic of the performance is built around family origin and development of the personality of Barak Obama. His wife supports her position with reasonable arguments and clear examples of his achievements and intentions. The First Lady underlines, that the job opportunity or ability to support one’s family is more important than the money earned.

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Michelle claims that being a president does not change personality of her husband, but reveals it. She says that Barak Obama has not been spoiled by power or his privileged position; that he remains, who he is and whom he used to be 24 years ago. The First Lady’s argumentation appeals to the times when she and Barak had financial difficulties and lacked money for decent living. She underlines that her husband knows from his own experience what the everyday struggle for a better living means. She stresses that he never forgets about it. Michelle depicts their first years of marriage as a constant striving to cover family expenses. Neither Barak nor she had any precious possessions in those times, and it did not make them jealous, but hardworking.


Michelle’s credibility is stipulated by a four-year successful experience of being at the same time public and a family person. She gives a lot of evidences of her active social position and stresses that being the First Lady is an extraordinary privilege for her. All her looks show that she exercises that position with pleasure and confidence.

Being the first African Americans at the White House, the Obamas present an example of American Dream’s possibility for those being discriminated throughout centuries on racial, religious or gender principle. Michelle underlines and proves it by her husband’s example that anyone, who works honestly and hard, should be supplied with the possibility of a decent life and future in America.

Michelle and Barak Obama have proven the sincerity of their family concern ideas by their personal example. Being the First Lady, Michelle positions herself firstly as Mom-in Chief. By her motherly experience and concerns, the president’s wife appeals to a numerous auditorium of parents, who long for the opportunity to give their children or grandkids a better life than they had.

The first lady uses her husband’s grandmother example who quickly managed to promote to the highest position and then hit a glass ceiling. She did not complain, but taught Barak that career does not matter at family expense. In her opinion, everything is all right until children are safe and happy.

Their family gave them example of unconditional love and self-sacrifice for their children. Michelle reveals that her father was a simple worker and had to work hard and overcome health problems to be able to send his children to college. She says that it was the greatest joy and honor for her father. Michelle says that those are examples and principles of her husband’s attitude to family relation. She gives examples that in spite of being very busy, Barak always find time for his wife and daughters, because it is his fundamental need.

Michelle says that her husband’s way is an example of American Dream fulfillment. She underlines that opportunity to change one’s life by means of day-to-day hard work and hope is personally important and clear for her husband. The family relations examples give Barak Obama a solid background for being firm and people oriented in his everyday decisions. From Michelle’s point of view, opportune does not mean for Barak giving people a decent career opportunities, but, first of all, giving men and their family’s decent life conditions and encouraging environment.


Michelle uses a lot of expressive means to develop and confirm her and her husband’s position of strong family values defenders and promoters. She explicates pathetically that being a mother is her most honorable responsibility, and she names it “the heart of my heart”. Michelle stresses that her main concern is her daughters. She shares her being worried at the beginning of her husband’s presidential period, whether living in the White House might bring negative changes to the girls. After four years of her husband’s service, she can confidently say that their values and their simple joys of life remain the same.

In her speech, Michelle reminds her husband by name, not officially, which shortens the distance between the speaker and the audience. She uses numerous repetitions and expressive means when trying to explain her position. For example, when she speaks of her family’s financial difficulties, she uses anticlimax “We were so young, so in love and so in dept”.

The First Lady speaks of Barak Obama’s closeness to usual day-to-day concerns of modern Americans. She gives the example of his crunched over the desk figure late at night trying to answer an enormous amount of letters from his co-citizens. She stresses that now, after the four years of his presidency, her husband has proven the sincerity of his values and intentions, and has the same clear vision of further development of America.

Michelle underlines that she is happy and proud to live in America, and she names it the best nation in the world, the land of opportune for everyone. She applies “a here and now principle”, which addresses not abstract, but lively and current needs of people “… good jobs right here in the United States of America”.


In conclusion, it should be noted that in the whole Michelle Obama’s speech was a success and it positively contributed to the outcome of 2012 presidential elections. The First Lady’s sincere and pathetic support of her husband made her sound very persuasive. The warmth of the audience and the credibility of her personality are stipulated by the four year successful experience of the Obamas family presidential service. In my opinion, Michelle’s speech mostly applied to ethos and pathos, though logos are obviously presented in it.

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