Why this photo? Because…
• Obama, although he delivered a stem-winder last night, is still pretty inward. (Maureen Dowd couldn’t hit him hard enough this campaign for being an introvert — like she felt swindled because he also has so much charisma.) When Obama, in the closing days of this race, would tell crowds: “you know me,” I think he was referring to this actually shy/self-effacing quality. As hard and as demanding as he is on himself, however (which, I believe, is where the smoking comes from), and as much as he’s felt the country’s problems demanded he tamp down the rhetoric, I was so glad last night to see him loosen the hair shirt.
• If he can be haughty intellectually (see: Denver debate), Obama really doesn’t allow himself much vanity. If it’s easy for him to feel proud of his family, it seemed last night he allowed himself to feel proud of himself, too. (At the same time, the exchange for the pride seemed to be that much more fuel for the change agenda.)
• The quality I remember most strongly from November 4, 2008, watching Obama very closely in Grant Park that evening, is tension. Certainly the new President, mindful of history, felt profoundly humbled and awed and delivered a soaring, electric speech that night, too. At the same time, I also remember all the bulletproof panels (suddenly daunted myself over the challenge of protecting the first black president, especially with all the hate it stirred up). More than that, though, with the economy in a total free fall, what I mostly recall was a deep sense of urgency coming off the man, clearly respectful of the need for commemoration but practically desperate also to get down to work.
• And then, like the man said, who doesn’t love his anchor?
(photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images caption: U.S. President Barack Obama stands on stage with first lady Michelle Obama after his victory speech on election night at McCormick Place November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama won reelection against Republican candidate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.)