November 15, 2008

(Newsweek’s) Obama’s Lincoln

A Lincolnesque leader is confident enough to be humble—to not feel the need to bluster or dominate, but to be sufficiently sure of one’s own judgment and self-worth to really listen and not be threatened by contrary advice. — “Obama’s Lincoln” by Evan Thomas/Richard Wolffe (Newsweek)

God speed to the administration-in-waiting, not just for its confidence but for the corresponding encouragement of legendary comparisons. Here’s the image Obama bore with Newsweek this week, based on the president-elect’s deep identification with Lincoln as a model and inspiration.

After fighting Obama’s deification and glorification throughout the campaign, it seems there is little to temper that allusion now. Even the rough road ahead, in fact, is serving as Herculean backdrop.

Not to sound cynical, but this image really concerns me (as does the new TIME BHO/FDR cover which I’ll post soon). Beyond morphing “44” with “16,” the gig hasn’t even started yet and “O’s” already been minted. (At the same time, the coloring also plays up that campaign meme identifying Obama with the creator. … Recall Obama-Rays.jpg.)

Hand wringing aside, however, do you know where I find the illustration most clever? The Newsweek cover story emphasizes how Obama, also mirroring Lincoln, desires to populate his administration with the strongest personalities he can find. Regardless how strong the character and ideological brew, the assumption is that Obama can temper it, mold it, and create a powerful balance out of it.

Whether the illustrators were conscious of it or not (and it’s hard to imagine they weren’t), what we have here is Obama as yin and yang.

(illustration: Stephen Bliss /Bernstein and Andriulli for Newsweek. Nov 15, 2008)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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