August 29, 2009

Kennedy Funeral: The Presidents

Clintons Bushs Obamas Kennedy.jpg

Just a few random thoughts on and associations to this photo from the Kennedy funeral:

>> Rather remarkable how non-neurotic everyone looks here. Such occasions will do that.

>> I’m really struck by Bush’s sensitivity. I mean, how many photos of him do you remember where he didn’t look either like an impish adolescent or a guy with a chip on his shoulder?

>> I heard Poppy Bush was ill, but where’s Barbara Bush?

>> I might not be completely crazy about Obama but I’m grateful, and proud as well, to see him in the “first pew” (knowing that the Clintons — inevitably, a team and a throwback to the past — could easily have been there instead).

>> This past week — awash as we’ve been in historical images and retrospectives — has pulled for some comparison between Jack, Bobby, Ted and Barack (especially considering how much Obama is loaded with charisma). As such, what stands out for me is how “un-Kennedyesque” Obama has been since the election. Maybe it’s his relative youth, but I find him overly tight and holding back emotionally quite a bit. I equate that “chin up” expression (in this instance, at least) with someone more comfortable in his head than in his heart or belly. (Wish I knew exactly what was going on that moment because Bubba and Dubya — perhaps finally freed to be a person — seem to be clearly riding it.)

Your thoughts?

(image: Reuters/Brian Snyder/Reuters. Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Boston, Massachusetts. August 29, 2009)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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