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May 26, 2009

The Exemplary Celina Sotomayor

Obama Sotomayors.jpg

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First, Team Obama caught the media and right-wing mostly off-guard Tuesday morning coming out of the three-day weekend, allowing them to establish critical momentum with the Sotomayor nomination.  

Second, they caused the Repubs pause by putting forth not just a highly-qualified and mostly non-controversial candidate, but also a Latina, representing a constituency the Michael Steele and Co. can ill afford to further alienate.

Third, they signaled that the campaign to move Sonia Sotomayor through the nomination process will be heavily built (as well it should) on the strength of a very powerful life story. (Sound familiar?) Using the White House Flickr stream, which is emerging as a highly strategic publicity asset in threading a more intimate and freewheeling pictorial narrative around the more staid and filtered visual news stream, you can see Team Obama already laying down the narrative on day one.

If you closely follow their Flickr stream, you might appreciate that the White House — in contrast to standard newswire practice — is quite informal and subjective in regards to what or how many details (especially names) they provide in a caption. In this case, the accompanying text reads as follows:

President Barack Obama greets the family members of Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor, including her mother Celina Sotomayor (smiling), prior to an announcement in the East Room of the White House, May 26, 2009.

Echoing the photo from the announcement ceremony posted two images before, it’s no surprise that Celina is more a focus here than Sonia: The joy elevates the courageous and exemplary single mother as much as it does the American dream.

(Pete Souza/White House. May 26, 2009. White House Flickr Photostream)

  • Tena

    I’m utterly thrilled. I love everything about this – as a lawyer myself, I find her qualifications and credentials astounding, and it’s such a brilliant appointment. I live in 2 Hispanic majority states: New Mexico, where I spend 6 months, is already Democratic. Texas, my legal residence, is trying so hard to go blue again – really. It gets no help and no push from anyone – the media and the Democratic Party ignore us totally and every election cycle we vote more Democratic than the one before. Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, El Pas, are all Democratic voting cities and their counties vote Democratic now as well and we’re turning whole parts of the state. We are going blue again. We used to be solidly Democratic and we will be again, sooner rather than later.
    This couldn’t be better for us and I’m just delighted. She’s the perfect candidate. And I love Obama’s smile – it just takes over his entire face when he’s genuinely happy and he obviously is genuinely happy with his choice.

  • Esoth

    The official launching of the Sotomayor nomination is another instance of the extreme competency of the Obama Administration, as the event exceeded my expectations. Sotomayor’s background and life history were well known and oft-repeated in recent weeks, which should have bathed the proceedings in an anticlimatic fog.
    But a few things cut through and blew off the fog.
    First, and this is common to Obama, there is real substance to the things he does and says. The attending imagery isn’t effective or powerful merely because of technical skill or visual artistry, but because those images often represent profound ideas and ideals. So there is little sense of stage-crafting for its own sake, or the incongruity we often saw with Bush, where the brilliant framing and use of grand imagery clashed with the puniness of the man himself.
    Seeing and hearing Sotomayor, confronting the reality of her life story more directly yesterday than in the dry characterizations in the press over the last few weeks, it was difficult not to be moved.
    The other very smart thing they did yesterday was to acknowledge and revel in the occasion as one that was cause to celebrate. Of course, it is a very serious business, but there was genuine joy in the room yesterday, and Sotomayor’s beaming pride mixed with gratitude and even some humility went a very long way to wash away the ugly whispering campaign against her “temperament”, which painted her as arrogant, obnoxious and pushy.

  • DennisQ

    …[T]here is little sense of stage-crafting for its own sake, or the incongruity we often saw with Bush, where the brilliant framing and use of grand imagery clashed with the puniness of the man himself …
    “Puny” is a very good word to describe Bush. There’s a reason we’ve heard from Cheney and not from Bush. The stature gap between Bush and Obama would be really striking if Bush were to reappear. With Cheney it’s not so obvious, because I don’t think Cheney’s appearances register with people who aren’t into politics. Cheney can be as provocative as he likes, but Obama rightly ignores him.
    I think Judge Sotomayor will create a stature gap of her own when she gets on the Supreme Court with gold-plated phonies like John Roberts. These guys haven’t been called sexist to their faces, and I don’t think Judge Sotomayor will hesitate to say exactly what she means. This does not imply that she won’t be diplomatic, but those right wingers need to be called on their underlying values.
    It could be that we are returning to an America of substance, rather than an America created by the media for popular consumption. Bush has totally disappeared since January, appearing only once or twice to show he’s alive and sober. As far as I’m concerned this complete blackout is even better than if he died, because nobody even pretends to miss him.

  • Batocchio

    What a great smile.

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