April 20, 2009

Pecking Order

US President Barack Obama sits alongside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates during his first cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on April 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO/Saul Loeb (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Given the terrific magnitude of the recession and the Wall Street meltdown, as well as the seriousness of the torture scandal, and the wide range of legal/constitutional liberty and ethics problems before the country, I regret the seating arrangement at Obama’s first cabinet meeting.

Of course, the arrangement is determined by protocol and “importance” (or order of precedence), dictating that the Secretaries of State and Defense sit to the respective right and left of the President, while the next “top two,” the Secretary of Treasury and the Attorney General, sit to respectively right and left of the Vice President.

What that also means and reflects, both symbolically and from a visual/media standpoint, however, is that foreign policy — in the persons of Clinton and Gates — occupies the spotlight, while the top domestic players — Geithner and Holder, sit (at least in regards to the site sight lines the White House Cabinet room) in the dead-zone.

(images: Saul Loeb/AFP. First Obama cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House. April 20, 2009)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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