Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 7, 2008

TIME's Halperin Pictures Obama As Dirty Rat

Obama-Rat-Pack

As Obama moves to respond to the “kitchen sink,” Mark Halperin at TIME launches a stunningly pejorative visual preemptive strike.

The photo-illustration above appears under the foreboding headline:  HALPERIN’S TAKE: The Dangers Which Might Await Obama If He Makes Negative Attacks Central To His Campaign. (On TIME’s home page, the lead reads: “Mulling Obama’s Negative Strategy.”)

So, what’s wrong with the picture?

Well, here’s the short list:  (Forgive me in advance, by the way, for failing to identify henchman #2.  I’m sure one of you will recognize him immediately.)

1.  Obama not only deserves an equal place among the likes of Atwater, Carville and Rove, but he deserves the central place.

2. Given that the source of the photo is a famous shot of the “Rat Pack,” Obama reveals himself as a true rat.

3. By casting these political backstabbers as crooners, it soft-peddles their handiwork as entertainment, while at the same time, by linking Obama to Sammy Davis Jr.,

it stereotypes the lone politician in the group as just one more black guy with rhythm.

4.  Notice, by the way, how Halperin’s illustration shows Obama looking down.  In the original Rat Pack photo, however, Sammy Davis Jr. was looking directly into the camera.  So, what gives?  … The body language suggests that Obama, going negative, has too much shame to look us in the eye.  “Shame on you, Obama.” …Sound familiar?

Obama’s Risk And Reward (The Page)

(photo-illustration: The Page by Mark Halperin.  March 6, 2008.  Getty Images.  thepage.time.com.  Linked original image. Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. Getty Images.)

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