March 11, 2009

The "Fifty Day" Snapshot

Obama Steps Up.jpg

At the fifty day mark of this Administration, I think this photo from yesterday’s TIME White House Photo Blog carries a bit of weight. The caption reads:

President Obama arrives in the East Room of the White House to sign an Executive Order on stem cells and a Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity.

On first pass, the image seems upbeat. With the economy going to hell, it means something that the President is rising with a feeling of purpose and also a spring in his step.

On the other hand, it does seem: Obama is running by as we sit in a dusty corner caught in the weeds; the Prez — especially that back leg — looks particularly skinny; and Obama’s also got that terse face on. (David, a reader who wrote me about the photo, caught the same double-edge. He read an attempt on Obama’s part for some self-deprecating humor — in contrast to an overall satirical sense, reflecting a “hoky near-sarcasm on the part of the photographer.”)

I see the photo as particularly relevant in light of the omniscient clawing Howard Fineman delivered to Obama in yesterday’s Newsweek. He sees “the establishment” as losing faith in Obama even though he “still has the approval of the people.” First, insert an eye roll. Second, just think about how much those intangible qualities and perceptions — such as, hope, trust and confidence — are absolutely critical factors in the sustenance of this country right now.

As much as this photo takes away from the President (and I’m interested in your take on whether and how much it does), it seems the basic momentum and ascension is necessary and good.

(image: Gerald Herbert/AP. March 10, 2009. Washington, D.C. via TIME White House photoblog)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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