Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
January 28, 2010

Obama-eye View

Members of Congress, the Cabinet, and Supreme Court applaud as President Barack Obama enters the House Chamber to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Jan. 27, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza))
(Click for scary full size)

Because Obama won a weekly news cycle for the first time in … I don’t remember, and because I don’t recall seeing this SOTU angle done before, here you go. Souza’s photo is interesting for a number of reasons. I’ll just tick off two:

Because the pressure to deliver on Wednesday was so high, this (wary) scene of applause — delivered out of protocol, and mostly looking like it — now seems to reflect, in retrospect, how easily Obama cleared the bar.

Another aspect (which might actually be a very funny joke on Pete Souza’s part), is how the picture — beyond “heavy is the head that wears the crown” — has a “Moses/parting the Red Sea” kind of feel to it. Given how the right wing tried to puncture Obama’s early popularity with allusions to his deification (Malkin couldn’t type “Obamessiah” often enough), and then, given how fast Obama lost the pedestal once elected, the picture (actually riffing on Obama’s tone in his speech) is a also a wry twist on all the hope, hope, hope and larger-than-life expectations.

(photo: Pete Souza/White House. caption: Members of Congress, the Cabinet, and Supreme Court applaud as President Barack Obama enters the House Chamber to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Jan. 27, 2010.)

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