April 19, 2009

The Sacred And The Profane


These photos emerged for me this week as defining images — ones that actually have a larger resonance going forward. The first photo is from Obama’s “major speech” on the economy at Georgetown. The second one was taken at a GOP tax protest in Atlanta.

What I appreciate, first off, is how strange this juxtaposition would have seemed say four or five years ago — when the right was identified with religiosity, and the right wing was so successful in framing Democrats, especially liberals, as angry and over-revolutionary.

Despite some minor controversy this week about the White House covering up the overt Catholic symbols in Gaston Hall for Prez’s speech, Team Obama was not only looking to frame the recession in biblical proportions, but to define the solution as a moral imperative. With Obama keying the speech around a metaphor from the Sermon on the Mount, the stained glass added the perfect touch.

For the right, it’s hard to say how successful the revolutionary meme is going to be, although the visual here seems to brings more definition to the “out party” as focused on patriotism, anger and even a libertarianism. For Obama’s part, I think his inclination is to always see policy as germinating from a sense of faith, responsibility and brotherhood. I don’t expect him, or his communications people, to cede this “higher ground.”

(1:45 PST – slightly revised)

(image 1: John Bazemore/A.P. caption: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech at Georgetown UniversityApril 14, 2009 in Washington, DC. During his speech on the economy, Obama cautioned that there will be “more job loss, more foreclosures and more pain” before the recession concludes. image 2: Alex Wong/Getty Images. caption: A man holds up a tea kettle during the Atlanta Tea Party tax protest Wednesday, April 15, 2009 in Atlanta. Thousands of protesters, some dressed like Revolutionary War soldiers and most waving signs with anti-tax slogans, gathered around the nation Wednesday for a series of rallies modeled after the original Boston Tea Party)

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Michael Shaw
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