It’s always fascinates me how the debate over a photo’s circumstances can be so overshadow its content. That’s true in the case of the Obama skeet shooting photo which, in my mind, is the second most stunning White House photo after “The Situation Room.”
Before tackling the content, however, let me go on the record as criticizing the skeptics, or “skeeters,” for just not trying hard enough. I mean, if you’re going to challenge Obama’s claim that he’s fired guns, or challenge the photo as just one lame example, why not go all the way and challenge the legitimacy of the photo itself? I mean, why haven’t the doubters thought to challeng the angle of the smoke against the wind direction in Thurmont, Maryland (the closest town to Camp David) that day?
Or the wind speed?
Or the humidity and why the Prez looks so dry?
I’m sorta surprised, also, that we haven’t seen historical video and Google Earth analysis of Camp David and the tree types or the woodland background of the helipad area, which is where the skeet shooting range lies, to suppose that the whole scene was concocted– just like the destruction of the World Trade Center, right? And then, I haven’t heard a word from the cynics about why the President, on that day trip to Camp David last August 4th, would choose to skeet shoot (among all the other options) on the occasion of his 51st birthday?
(…Could it be, perhaps, that Obama was so hooked on the Olympics, smack dab in the middle of the shooting events that, after watching the finals of the Men’s trap that Thursday, he couldn’t wait to eviscerate a few clay pigeons himself that weekend?)
Honestly, I can’t tell you why Obama has hardly breathed a word about shooting before last week’s New Republic interview. Perhaps, after being skewered for ties to revolutionaries like Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright, and then being linked with terrorism (if just for parody’s sake) by a publication as conservative as the New Yorker, who needed the trouble? With that initiation to presidential politics, perhaps any reference to shooting (I mean, look what they did to him over bowling?) just wouldn’t be simple.
Which is why the photo is so incredible, and the critics and conservatives short-sightedly forced Obama into releasing one of the most advantageous photos of his presidency. We know, of course, that such a photo, unilaterally released by the White House, would have been skewered as an epic example of pandering, in the caliber of “Dukakis in the tank,” with skeet shooting sure to be derided by NRA-types as sissy stuff. Instead however, forced into releasing the photo as a STFU and evidence he’s inhaled fired, the Administration, with absolutely no negative consequence, has inserted this amazing visual into the public record. As such, with Sandy Hook still fresh in people minds, with the President tacking left and the Administration pressing for new legislation on gun control, the photo frames Obama exactly where he always craves the leverage — which is, from the other side of the fence.
Please though, don’t tell me people on the right are just going to parse, qualify and dismiss this image. Quibble if you want about the age and style of the gun (old and not very powerful) or the pettiness of the context (real men kill things). As Karl Rove famously said, politics is TV with the sound off. (In other words, the authority of the content itself.) And now, the picture is out there. Ultimately, what dropped out of the internets Friday — in living color and in twelve sizes, minuscule to mondo — is the president firing a gun.
(photo: Pete Souza/White House caption: President Barack Obama shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David, Md., Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.)