October 26, 2009

The GOP Word of the Week, Boys (and Girls), is: "Dithering"

President Barack Obama plays basketball with White House staffers while on vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Aug. 26, 2009.  (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)  This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, or promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Either there’s a set of GOP talking points out there, or former Vice President Dick Cheney is taking his cue from Cornyn, because the other night, Cheney employed nearly the same formulation. — from: Is Obama “dithering” on Afghanistan? (Dallas Morning News)

The fact the NYT characterized senior WH staff as a “boys club” or a bunch of “frat boys,” with their bball games and all, was pretty trivial, sure. (NY Mag chimed in, by the way, with the winning “Bro-in-Chief” line).

There is something more harmful at play with the Times story and the accompanying photos, however. (The picture above, pulled from the White House Flickr Stream and originally titled President Barack Obama plays basketball with White House staffers while on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard” made Sunday’s front page captioned: “The Obama White House has been battling a boys’ club image.”)

If you link up McCain’s attack a few weeks ago — made to Obama’s face — that he was being “leisurely” about Afghanistan with Cheney charge last Thursday that Obama is quote-unquote “dithering,” you can hear the meme forming up. With that kind of talk in the air, the picture leading the NYT story starts to speak to more than just White House demographics.

Rather, the context (and there is certainly more, and still more material where this shot came from) is: Obama plays while Rome (or, Afghanistan … and, this weekend, Iraq) burns.

Update 1: Another meme in the making: Obama and his top team a kiddy corps? (Funny how Obama gets hit, from time to time, with rips more appropriate of Bush, who really was a frat boy and the permanent adolescent.)

Update 2: A possible racial subtext feathered in also? IE: Who you calling “boy”?

(image: Pete Souza/White House. Aug. 26, 2009)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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