Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
August 18, 2012

Obama the Subservient Revisited

Bag is in summer mode this week, recharging for the conventions. In the spirit of “what goes around, comes around,” we have curated a group of posts that say as much about where we are or what we’re seeing now as what we saw at the time. On each, we’ve added a few current thoughts. As always, we are interested in your take. We will be back in real time on the 20th.

We know how the right interpreted the photos below when they were first published: Obama the ingratiating, Obama the subservient, Obama the apologist. Many on the left saw it as simply good manners but were alarmed at the right’s reception. Given Mitt Romney’s disastrous foreign tour at the start of the Olympics, photos from Obama’s foreign visits feel like a visual walk in the park. It’s noticeable that the right has yet to trot out photos of Obama’s deference to the diplomatic moment in their defense of Mitt Romney’s foreign foray.

Did Romney invalidate the right wing “Obama the diplomatic wimp” meme as well as his own opportunity to look like a leader? Or, maybe the Abbottabad mission took care of the wimp meme almost by itself.

Here’s the original November 8, 2010 post.

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Here we go with the right-wing looking to get the bowing-thing rolling again.  An African-American president makes a friendly little gesture to the audience standing near the Indian Prime Minister, and … well, you know.  All Drudge had to do was reference the photo above with the link: Bows to Indian Parliament... But then, notice the LAT makes the emphatic point that there has been no “bowing low” on this trip, given how Obama learned his lesson (about stirring up the haters) last time.

Meanwhile, here’s the headline and the image of another story Drudge linked to this morning.  I guess we also shouldn’t be surprised.

Here’s the recipe: Combine well-aged Obama early school days Muslim prayer innuendo with heaping dose of birther venom, add right wing Australian media with an tourist photo of Obama in India, then mix, stir and serve cold.

Regarding the photo, Drudge and the Australians seem to be playing off a knee-jerk reaction to the Obamas in an exotic, brown-skinned land more than anything else.  If I understand it right, by the way, Humayun — of Humayun’s Tomb in New Dehli, a world heritage site and a natural sightseeing attraction — was a Mughal, an offshoot of the Mongols and a descendent Ghengis Khan, although he, himself, was more Turk and and Persian than anything.  But then, maybe Drudge and The Australian are just taking advantage of the general public’s cultural illiteracy to somehow tie this tomb, and the primarily Hindu Indians in with the Muslim world.

(credit: Jim Young, Getty Images caption: US President Barack Obama bows to the audience beside India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after delivering a speech at Parliament House in New Delhi on November 8, 2010. US President Barack Obama backed India’s quest for a permanent UN Security Council seat, inviting the world’s largest democracy to take its “rightful” place at the summit of global power.)

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