December 2, 2008

Obama In Two Postures (Or, Leveling Out The Terminator)

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama shakes hands with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger during a bipartisan meeting with members of the National Governors Association at Congress Hall in Independence Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania December 2, 2008. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES)President-elect Barack Obama, right, greets California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, left, at the Bipartisan meeting of the National Governor's Association at Congress Hall, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 in Philadelphia, Pa. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

I’m curious to see who runs which one of these over the next 12 hours or so.

When it comes to power politics and body language, you couldn’t find a bigger contrast. In the top image, Obama not only takes on the full sun but in dipping his left shoulder, he looks off balance while gazing up at the larger and completely planted Schwarzenegger. That, combined with the effusive grin makes Barack look like someone in a fan line, like: “I just met the Terminator!”

In comparison, the second shot has the men more level (given the uphill tilt in Obama’s favor). Besides exercising authority in controlling Arnold’s arm and using Schwarzenegger to block the glare, the President-elect also commands the attention of the governors behind.

The juxtaposition is significant, at this point, as a visual precursor to the fortunes of the new administration. Knowing that Obama, in all his confidence, is going to be severely tested, the question is, will adversity weaken or strengthen him? If the answer is more definitive in one direction or the other, count on photo editors to choose accordingly.

(Revised: 6:50 pm PST)

(image 1: Jeff Haynes/Reuters. Bipartisan meeting of the National Governor’s Association. Congress Hall, Philadelphia. Dec. 2, 2008. image 2: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

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Michael Shaw
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