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November 4, 2008

Your Turn: CKOBAMA.C

obama plane.jpg

This was the image accompanying Monday’s NYT Obama campaign story, the next-to-last before the election.


(image: Doug Mills/The New York Times. Springfield, Mo. caption: Senator Barack Obama on his plane late Saturday when he arrived in Springfield, Mo., during a final weekend pass through contested states before the election.)

  • rob miller

    what seems to be at work here is a subtle implication of obama’s political philosophy because of the cyrillic appearance of the text on the side of the airplane. weirdly, it looks as though the characters are in the process of forming the word “moscow”.

  • Sage

    I see the words “OK Obama” on the side. That’s ok by me.

  • Mrrar

    No.. It’s not the words that’s relevant.. It’s his pose.
    It’s supposed to invoke the death of his grandmother (that’s immediately what I thought about). Actually I thought you were going to say they captured that moment. But the way he holds his hand to his head, the phone to his ear, his eyes closed..
    The way everything’s dark, a.. twilight? Or a dawn? Or really is it both?
    And he’s in the middle of it, he should be surrounded by cheering, and life, but there’s just this sort of emptiness with him in this little capsule because, despite all his good fortune, despite the optimism of the day, his Toot is dead.

  • Daddy-O

    The Times has flaws aplenty, but a “liberal bias” should be at last taken off the table. Judy Miller’s bag job for the previous (hah!) administration was apparently not enough for some. The stories, and accompanying photos, as a whole point to a paper that is either oblivious to its effect on the greater media lens (look, we tracked down stray racists in Western PA, so it’s an official issue now!), or is rattled by the idea of being viewed as too progressive (witness the headscratching sloppiness of Bill Kristol’s op-ed pieces). Either way, can we vote Keller et al. out of office this election year too?

  • mudkitty

    My first thought was that he was just told his grandmother died.

  • Karen in CT

    I, too, think it is a rare moment alone to deal with the news of his Grandmother. The darkness and attitude of deep grief are striking.
    If this is from an earlier moment in the campaign I see someone working obviously late hours and up to the last moment before take-off. It’s an image of Barack in communication, in control.

  • imiloa

    I agreed that his expression fits the sad news of his grandmother’s passing. Tragic that she did not live another couple days to see election day, itself. But she lived long enough to see Obama achieve personal greatness on the world stage.
    re: Letters on fuselage: == Campaign Knock-Out for (eg: TKO)

  • KansasKowboy

    This photo of Obama is the antithesis of the photo of Bush in the kindergarden room when he was told that there was a terrorist attack underway on September 11, 2001. It appears to me that Obama has been told some shocking news. But I see a man on the phone, regaining his focus and planning his next move. In the Bush photo we saw of him after recieving shocking news, we saw not a man ready to focus and deal with the problem, we saw a deer caught in the headlights. Thank goodness Bush is on the way out and Obama is on the way in.

  • g

    KansasKowboy – your comment is very perceptive.

  • The BAG

    Although the image certainly pulls for connection to his grandmother’s passing, the photo (see caption) was taken last Saturday, two days before she died. Not to say the call didn’t relate to her, but the timing makes that more speculative.
    As usual though, I’m interested in what’s going on in the political atmosphere that caused the photographer to shoot this, and then the editor to choose it out of every possible other thing available.
    My association has to do with Obama, if he wins, moving into a new and more contained situation. Even if he does a marvelous job transcending it, I can’t help thinking of the presidency as a bubble (or, more physically, one cabin after another).

  • Lindsay

    The NYT article was posted on November 2. And I could be mistaken, but I thought he didn’t find out about his grandmother until the morning of the 3rd. So, While I immediately thought of his loss (and simultaneously thought how disgusting it was to put that exact moment on display) I don’t think this was about that.
    I looked at the differences in light from the outside of the plane and the inside. Plays into the idea of Obama radiating light wherever he goes. But the emptiness and brightness of the inside of the plane is what I found striking.
    Most of all, the past two years have very much been: Through the Looking Glass.

  • redX

    Looks like a foreign language, or the closest in english would be blaCK OBAMA. The pose is not flattering as its an oh shit type pose.
    Really weak by the NYT.

  • Sergei Andropov

    I think it syncs with the article quite well. Towards the beginning, it says, “As he pressed his right hand to his forehead, his sober expression seemed at odds with the confident gleam in the eyes of his advisers,” and I think this same theme is at work in the photograph. Obama obviously is not taking his upcoming victory for granted. Looking solely at him, you would think that he was the one a dozen points down in the polls. This is further reinforced by the fact that it is quite obviously night, yet he is still hard at work. He seems weary, and he seems worried. Yet if you widen your view to include the rest of the picture, you see that he is surrounded by political empire. He’s sitting in a private cabin in a private, extensively customized jet, his own personal Air Force One. The other windows reveal a spacious, open interior; this is certainly not a campaign that is short on resources. And below the windows is the second most dominant visual element: http://WWW.BARACKOBAMA.COM, the emblem of his unbelievably successful campaign, the photo’s link to his innumerable supporters. The emblem is larger than life; each letter is larger than Obama’s head, and the entire emblem is too large to be captured by the single shot. The plane’s whole exterior surface is professionally done: the font is crisp without being soulless, bold without being overbearing; the background has a faint metallic sheen, its colors complex yet subtle. The plane is a symbol of his success, both the fruits of his labors and the labors themselves; it is the process that he himself set in motion that is carrying him inexorably to the presidency of the United States. The soul of this photo is this contrast between Obama’s immense political empire, which all but guarantees success, and his own personal attitude, which leaves nothing to chance, and takes nothing for granted. He will be a good president.

  • elfpix

    He must surely be talking with his sister.
    I like the way Doug pulled up just enough light on the plane to make the letters show. He could not have had a flash strong enough to let him get that so must have used the RAW converter in Photoshop to bring it up just a little.
    And when we realize how much of what Obama has done for the last three days has been something only he could do, had to do, alone, and when we realize that he could hardly have been surprised to get yesterday morning’s phone call, and when we look at the images from the last week of him on and working to bring in the battleground states, giving his varying speeches, flying madly from one side of the country to another, trying really hard to remember which place he’s in with 3 or 4 every day – all the time waiting for that phone call, and keeping on the situation with his sister – it is all even more amazing.
    I think Doug’s photograph is simply a complete representation of that.

  • Tina

    I see: WHACK OBAMA
    Maybe I’m just nervous.

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