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May 9, 2009

Chillin’ (Post-Pirates, Pre-”Prom”) At The White House

Obama Phillips.jpg

Here’s pirate-defying hero Capt. Phillips and his wife at the White House this morning (large size; mind-blowing size), with my distillation of the comments from the WH photo stream:

>>Wow! Imagine those 2 people from Vermont sitting in the Whitehouse next to our Presdent. He is so compassionate, and real and they get to be that close.

>>They came to The White House looking like that? Wow!

>>Maybe, with this president, you don’t have to dress to kill.

>>I suspect his people told them that the dress code on Saturday’s is business casual. In addition, There are many great Americans who don’t necessarily have a $500 suit and Johnson & Murphy shoes.

>>Who cares how they dressed – they are real/everyday people from Vermont. Yes – it is a privelage for them to meet the President, but the President should feel the same about meeting this Captain.

>>I love the casual and familiar vibe happening in this photo. It speaks a lot about our president.


These comments remind me of something historian Michael Steinberg said in the BAGnewsSALON “Obama 100 Days” live chat held here last Sunday. (By the way, if you haven’t had a chance to read through the discussion transcript, I thought the conversation — in the way it deconstructed key Obama images so far; got at the character of Obama and the first couple; and spoke to the presidential stagecraft, was unsurpassed.) Steinberg wrote:

“(T)he presiden(cy is) … all about power. Bush was stage-managed in ways that enhanced his image as an authority, as someone in command. Obama’s deliberately presented as the opposite.”

When I look at this image, particularly knowing it’s taken on a Saturday morning (especially “book-ending” tonight’s star-studded, inside-the-Beltway White House Correspondents Dinner/media-pol love-fest, otherwise know as “Hollywood on the Potomac” or “The Prom” ), I think the informality and the “common man” impression here (driven home, actually, by the informality of Mrs. Phillips’ dress) is brilliant.

Also from the BAGnewsSALON, from Nathan Stormer, Professor of Communications and Journalism at the U. of Maine:

“I think Obama has, through some of these images and others, come across as fully human, but fully political at the same time. That is a balance we don’t expect from presidents.”

(image: Pete Souza/White House, April 9, 2009 via WH Flickr Stream)

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