David Crystal (whose Encyclopedia of the English Language is always within reach as I write) has posted an appreciative analysis of Barack Obama's acceptance speech. Specifically the ambitiously intricate yet clearly effective opening:
What was I noticing? It was the opening if-clause, a 41-word cliff-hanger with three who-clause embeddings. Starting a major speech with a subordinate clause? And one of such length and syntactic complexity? I thought he would be lucky if he was able to round it off neatly after the first comma.
My own favourite phrase from Obama's speech:
the dream of our founders. With this line he celebrates the potential of a document, which knowingly allows slavery, to eventually connect with its principles, which do not. At the same time he evokes Martin Luther King's most memorable idea. And the moment of his speech is a testament to the trajectory of history. And a well-crafted piece of writing.