Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
February 26, 2009

Notes On The Latest WH Slide Show

Pete Souza has a new WH slideshow up purposed to provide the American people with a snapshot of the President and his economic team attacking the economic crisis. If somewhat heavy-handed in presenting us two images of 44 in emotional poses (here’s the meditative one), the two photos of the Obama are surprisingly intimate.
The one above would be a completely different photo if Obama’s eyes were closed. In almost a psychological study, the fact they aren’t appears to illustrate Obama’s capacity to bodily absorb the pressure and still locate and collect himself.   

Obama Glass Ceiling.jpg

I was also thinking about this photo — as well as the rest — in terms of gender.

On first pass, with Napolitano and Romer looking thoroughly engaged, it seems to strongly affirm the role of women in the administration. At the same time, however, it seems like the power triangle formed by Obama, Biden and Schiliro (perhaps better articulated by who has “a place at the table”) also gives off a vibe of Napolitano and Romer as being in “the next echelon.”

This latter perception (call it a gender gap?) come through more clearly in considering the full eight photos in this show as a group. Out of the entire set, there is only one other photo with a woman clearly present. That’s this one, in which the four men occupying the center of the table are named in the caption, and the unidentified woman (curiously enough, framed under Obama’s “measuring” hand) is seen at the table’s opposite and far edge.

If one was trying to demonstrate the idea of the boys club, by the way, shot number two (whether including or excluding Roosevelt) would be red meat. Seeing that picture also immediately reminded me of (and made me even more uncomfortable) about this early portrait of Team 44’s economic brain trust.

(Extended – 8:35 pm)

(h/t: Lindsay)

Sustained Growth, Shared Prosperity slideshow (Pete Souza/White House)

  • paulo

    I don’t know about that triangle. My eye does not at all include the speaker in a triangle. If anything he is an adjunct off of Biden.
    There is a second echelon thing going on but the first is Biden and Obama only. I see it as a pond and they are the surface.
    Shiliro bubbled up to speak and the others seem to be setting below the surface perhaps waiting in turn to bubble up themselves. And in terms of buoyancy certainly Napolitano and Romer seem to be more engaged and thus seem more buoyant than the other folks in the pond.

  • ptm

    It would appear the intent of the slide show is to show us, the internet elite, that the grownups are in charge and are diligent about their commitment to working out a real solution. That’s the level of personal intensity everyone wears. Gender is a secondary issue that is, in its normalcy, ignored – they are all contributors.

  • dada

    I’m in the tank for Obama, but that slideshow seems a little too heavy on the “worry” for me… nail-biting & ear pulling.
    The photos do not inspire confidence and I wonder who ultimately made the selection.

  • Gasho

    I see Obama sticking his neck out by taking on these problems. I see vulnerability as well with that jugular fully exposed. I appreciate that a smart mind is willing to take on such a FUBAR state of affairs and try to set things right again.
    The right wing is SUPER QUICK to see all these problems as Obama’s problems and completely forget about President McWarzAlot N. CutOurTaxez.
    The country flip flops between two competing and conflicting governmental strategies. Either one would produce a coherent governmental system (maybe not a really fun one, but at least a coherent one) but together, they’re steering the boat into the wind and parallel to the waves!! No wonder we’re not getting anywhere!

  • yg

    re the top photo, he should worry. seeing him like this actually reassuring. concern is an excellent motivator.
    his staffers overdid the sell they were doing about his equilibrium, that’s he’s never too hot or too cold. that’s nice, but sometimes that can be misread as detached and unconcerned.
    i’ve never seen an expression like that on biden before. i’ll admit, that was a little unnerving.
    volcker has such seasoned gravitas, in times like this that’s a valuable commodity. i’m surprised they don’t use him more. biden aside, most of the people on the econ team are young. romer has a relentlessly chipper voice that’s surreal when she’s talking about foreclosures and unemployment rates. geithner was on newhour the other day. it took lehrer twice to finally get him to express some confidence that we would weather this crisis. it took him that long just to cut through all the layers of caveats geithner wove around himself. it wouldn’t hurt to have a gray beard like volcker thrown in the mix, presenting policy

  • yg

    summers is older than the rest but he has a “couldn’t be bothered, don’t really give a damn” affect that’s disturbing.

  • cenoxo

    I don’t see the Dove in shots 5 and 7…

    …is it out of the picture now?

Refresh Archives

Random Notes