May 3, 2009

The Executive Picnic Table

The president’s comments came at the end of a weeklong balancing act in which his public words and actions were carefully measured to summon a sense of urgency without setting off a panic. It was no coincidence, his aides said, that he played golf the day his administration declared a national emergency. — from: President Enlists Cabinet to Prepare for a Pandemic (5/2/09 NYT)

The line above, pulled out of a NYT article yesterday on pandemic preparedness, is interesting in the way it speaks to White House communications strategy. The quote, I believe, also informs this photo of Clinton and Obama meeting last month on the South Lawn.

In contrast to the uncharacteristic photo on Friday showing a nervous White House auto task force behind the President, this image — stopping short of describing life as a picnic — is classic for the way it trumpets the message: we’re loose and operating in an atmosphere of calm.

(image: Pete Souza/White House, April 9, 2009, from the “Delivering on Change” photo set released on the White House flickr photostream to mark Obama’s 100 days in office)

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Michael Shaw
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