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September 8, 2009

School Skirmish: “Oh Brother” Vs. “Big Brother”

Obama school talk.jpg

I’m rather proud of this image (taken by our good friend, Mario Tama) given how the Administration deflected the latest wingnut flak. I also thoroughly applaud Obama for reaching out to school children and delivering a message of encouragement and responsibility. As Molly, a reader, said this morning in the previous post: “Whatever he is as a politician, I think Obama is a good man.”

That said though, I do thing this episode, and today’s pictures, also offer a lesson about perception, cognition, visual politics and the black arts of the right-wing. I’ve been doing a BlogRadio show every Friday with Florida progressives Susan Smith and Alison Morano discussing the “pictures of the week” and we’re constantly mindful how effectively the philistines use framing (if just evidenced by how much time we spend deconstructing it).

Simply put, there’s something in my reptilian brain — as the result of having been privy to the week-long rebel narrative — that looks at this image and conjures up “1984,” given the rapt attention, and the way the kids are looking up/to/at the man in the box, and the way the two folded arms on the left, and the other two on the right, are so uniform. (And then next time, I could also do without the drama department’s “Little Shop of Horrors” backdrop, illustrated by the guy in the tuxedo manipulating the marionette.)

(image: Mario Tama/Getty Images. caption: Manhattan Charter School students watch the National Address to Students on Educational Success by U.S. President Barack Obama September 8, 2009 in New York City. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to students beforehand at a “My Education, My Future” event at the school.)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e5523476cc8834 DennisQ

    Right wingers’ big fear of Obama is that Obama has strange powers. He came from nowhere discernible – maybe even outer space – and he became president even before people knew his name. And every time they try to pin something on him, he’s full of tricks.
    Strange powers either come from God or they come from the Devil. Needless to say, if Obama were divine, he’d be white. Rather than come right out and say he’s the offspring of Satan, let’s just hint at it. Do you believe in magic?

    The Republicans are experiencing the downside of Bush’s eight years of catering to the religious right. Unsophisticated people were trained to think of politics as based on belief. Bush couldn’t do any wrong because his heart was pure and good. And Bush manipulated them outrageously. These same people can be manipulated just as easily in the opposite direction, with the result that Tom Friedman – of all people – gets away with calling them just plain stupid.
    The Republicans have a choice – either smarten up or have Team Obama make public fools of them. Incidentally, the guy in the tuxedo manipulating the marionette fits into the theme. Ordinary God-fearing salt of the earth type people are being pulled by strings controlled by Democrats. Michelle Bachmann regularly makes that accusation.

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