What is significant about this otherwise “elementary” photo-op is the way Obama — in contrast to Bush/McCain — continues to model a fundamentally different response to hate, to schism, to “the other.” His prevailing attitude — this setting and the class assignment admittedly playing right to it — is to approach conflict with greater thought and in a larger context.
The way Obama is drawn to Lincoln in this collage — as Lincoln bridges the divide and “sees through” the division — seems to suggest there is new hope on the uniter/divider front. Also, in contrast to Bush’s infinitesimal attention span, it feels like Obama is not just posing for a picture but actually absorbing what the student has to say. Which raises the question, how come so little has been made of Obama’s career, not just as an organizer or a politician, but as a teacher?
Obama offers students pointers on public speaking (KansasCity.com)
Beyond the political back-and-forth regarding Obama’s approach to bad guys, notice which pic — by the same photographer — the NYT went for: Obama Seeks to Clarify His Disputed Comments on Diplomacy (NYT)
(revised: 5/29 9:12 PST)
Update: For the purposes of character contrast, Contributer John Lucaites emailed me the following “warrior image,” taken this morning at the Air Force Academy:
(image 1: Rick Wilking/Reuters. Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts. Thornton, Colorado. May 28, 2008. image 2: Charles Dharapak/AP. Colorado Springs, Colo.)
(May 28, 2008)