It’s no surprise that the agendas of Team Obama and the Occupy movement would intersect at the President’s first public rally since his Pacific trip, and first appearance since Occupiers were evicted from Liberty Park, then pepper sprayed at UC Davis.
The start of Obama’s speech In New Hampshire was interrupted by an OWS-style mic check, although Obama took it in stride and it didn’t go on very long. More interesting, though, was the bit of theater above, in which an OWS sympathizer, ironically in a suit, passed the President a note on behalf of the movement which was promptly captured and blown up by AP’s Charles Dharapak. (Note to Mr. Suit: I hope OWS isn’t hoping to challenge the Tea Party for its misspelling acumen.)
The symbolism is actually pretty literal. Obama, who has taken a hands-off approach to the movement — when he’s asked about it, he sticks with the stock phrase, “people are frustrated” — is forced to take note of Occupy in a more direct way than he surely would like (which it’s probably why the suit guy looks so pleased.) Most suggestive, though, is that second frame. What Team Obama is surely craving from of a campaign-style event in the now elusive New Hampshire, are ’08-style images of beaming admiration like we see from the woman lower left (and, if you can judge from one eyeball, the woman far right). Aside from any blowback associated with ignoring the movement, I’m sure the Administration hopes to avoid what happens in the first frame, in which Occupy, in pressing their concerns, ends up ruining the fan shot, even causing a wary look.
And then, I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison, but here — in split-screen fashion, just like on CNN, the first shot courtesy of the White House — is visual documentation of the President’s business in Australia, just one day before the pepper spray incident. We are the 99%?
Video – mic check.
(photos 1-4: Charles Dharapak/AP. photo 5: Pete Souza/ White House. caption: President Barack Obama, along with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, visits with students at Campbell High School in Canberra, Australia, Nov.17, 2011.)