September 28, 2010
Obama, the Rolling Stone Cover, and Playing from Behind
It’s not a distinctive photo, by any means, but it’s noteworthy, and attracting attention, for a couple reasons.
First, is the timing. If anything characterizes Obama (just like John MacEnroe in the old days), it’s that he tends to play best from behind (
1, 2). It’s probably been a week or two now that pundits have been questioning the conventional wisdom that the GOP and the Tea Party will romp in the mid-terms. It’s only the past week, however, that Obama has started the big PR push — and this cover helps crystallize a sober “oh, perhaps we shouldn’t have written off Obama so quickly” dejavu.
A couple of other elements. It’s vintage Obama tacking to the center-right with the red tie. There isn’t a chance in the world he would have worn a different color.* Playing off the red letters above, juxtaposed with the “hope white” Colonnade only drives home a picture of a determined, but more importantly, a not-angry, not-crazy and not-dangerous looking President.
If you recall, Obama thrashed McCain primarily because, coming out of the Bush madness, O seemed to John and Jane Q. Public — forget what the spinmeisters were saying — like the far more steady, thoughtful and, frankly, sane alternative. With the Tea Party’s standard bearers looking more and more radical and wild-eyed (and determined to make the election a referendum on Obama himself), this photo of the President, calm and grounded outside the Oval Office, is all the more impactful for the lack of drama or pizzaz.
* Of the three previous Obama Rolling Stone covers (not including the Shepard Fairey retake on his campaign poster), Obama is only wearing a blue tie in one, which was July 10th, ’08, a month before the Democratic convention. Here’s October 08 and the March 08 endorsement illustration.
Obama in Command:
The Rolling Stone Interview
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