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October 27, 2009

Politico’s Wedge Shot


A four-hour stop in New Orleans, on his way to a $3 million fundraiser. Snubbing the Dalai Lama. Signing off on a secret deal with drug makers. Freezing out a TV network. Doing more fundraisers than the last president. More golf, too.

President Barack Obama has done all of those things — and more. What’s remarkable is what hasn’t happened. These episodes haven’t become metaphors for Obama’s personal and political character — or consuming controversies that sidetracked the rest of his agenda.

It’s a sign that the media’s echo chamber can be a funny thing, prone to the vagaries of news judgment, and an illustration that, in politics, context is everything. — from: What if George W. Bush had done that? (Gerstein/Politico)

So, Politico places these two photos side-by-side and complains of a double-standard? These “episodes” haven’t become metaphors for Obama’s personality, however, because character is the context.

So, what do we see above, given the difference?

The photo on the left reinforces the fact that Bush, essentially a clever and opportunistic ne’er-do-well who elevated himself into the stratosphere by way of family connections was a charter member and complete tool of the country club set.

In Obama’s case, the golf photo ops — and the White House can’t seem to do enough of them (1, 2, 3) — serve several functions. For one, they reassure the country club that a black man and a liberal “is good people.” And the pics project confidence and calm at a time of extreme financial crisis, two foreign wars, et cetera — especially important, by the way, for a young President and one without a long-established identity in the political arena or on the public stage.

…Oh, and the layout? The orientation of those pictures isn’t putting Obama “down?”

  • Julia Grey

    Obama is raising his club (threatening), Bush is raising his hat (genial).
    PRO-paganda! Where the wink comes rushing down the page…

  • Rima

    Obama is resting his club on his shoulder (casual); Bush is removing his hat to let his head decompress (nincompoop).

  • g

    For one thing, it’s a no-starter. All recent presidents have been shown playing golf.
    Bush had a few iconic moments (“Now watch this drive!” IIRC) where his own actions created the contrasting picture. Plus he later drew more attention to it by claiming he’d stop playing golf to honor the troops….and then backslid on it.
    And, unfair as it might be, the fact that Obama looks a heckuva lot better (think Tiger Woods) makes a difference. Obama looks like an athelete (again, think Tiger) while Bush looks like a guy who’s been a country club member. Those impressions may not have any basis in reality, but the images evoke those stereotypes.
    and of course, a lot of the things that appear on “What if Bush had done that”’s list, Bush actually did do.

  • crabby

    I can’t see anything any one of you are talking about, other than Obama is cropped to be below bush. They are both country club frat boys that fiddle beside the fire, I can’t for the life of me see the difference. It is obvious that love blinds.

  • Julia Grey

    They are both country club frat boys that fiddle beside the fire, I can’t for the life of me see the difference. It is obvious that love blinds.
    Obviously so does hatred.

  • Michael Shaw (The BAG)

    How much impact did yesterday’s NYT article/meme actually have that the term “frat boys” would pop up here the next day? As I was getting at in the post, Obama’s team would have been absolutely thrilled — as consumed as they were a year ago, fighting off the characterization of the candidate as a Bill Ayres accomplice/closet terrorist and the racially-coded inner city “community organizer” — that their greatest personality obstacle today would be: “frat boy.”

  • Earl Mardle

    The difference between them is that Bush only did golf and brush cutting, apart from starting wars.
    For Obama, the golf is a rest from the work he does, for Bush it was all he could do.

  • DennisQ

    I actually like the idea of a website that speculates about contrafactual history. Perhaps the same people who like If Bush had done this . . . would be equally enthusiastic about a website that focuses on If Obama had done this . . ..
    What howls there would be if Obama, not Bush, were to cobble together pieces of phony information to make a case for an unjustified war. And there’d be an insurrection if the Democrats, not the Republicans had passed the Patriot Act. If instead of Dick Cheney, Joe Biden were to shoot a golfing buddy in the face and wait till next morning to report it, Fox News would lead with the story for three months.

  • Morgan

    Difference? One’s a leftie, the other a rightie.

  • lytom

    Oh no, there is no war going on and people are not dying any more in Afghanistan…
    No, that is not the difference, then what is?
    This is not about the “howls” as I see it.
    Democrats and Republicans march in line for the Empire’s quest – devouring and destroying culture and future of these countries… Like a domino, Pakistan is next and then? Take a pick.

  • Progressive Mom

    I think it’s interesting that Politico’s chose image is Obama playing golf its attack point. Not the date nights; not the not-having-a-church; not the use of Camp David — if Politico wanted social stuff, there’s plenty.
    Why golf? Is it because it hits many Politico devotees exactly where they live? And, for some reason, inflames them even more against the current President?
    It’s like an old Sesame Street song: One of these things doesn’t go together, one of these things just doesn’t belong….

  • yg

    crabby, stereotypical “frat boys” don’t graduate from harvard law, magna cum laude.

  • yg

    back during a baseball photo op, i mentioned it’s obvious his upper echelon advisors were all male. never dreamt he would get tagged for it.
    the photo op where he went golfing with a woman partner made me laugh. never seen defensive golfing before.
    so he likes to hang out with the boys. big deal. some people have tried to argue that means he hasn’t done enough for women. that isn’t true. just scroll through his policy initiatives. it’s a very pro woman agenda.
    one example are recent proposal to boost SBA loans. people would think of that just another economic initiative. but at one time more women than men started small businesses. this proposal benefits women.

  • crabby

    Only if hatred is lack of love.
    Can’t I disagree with everything Obama viewed uncritically and not be accused if hate.
    There are things I like about Pres Obama, like his sentences being complete and him being rational, etc., but I see limited objectivity when the subject is Obama.

  • crabby

    Whatever that means. I am sure he is brilliant – what is the point? He is golfing while people are dying and the country is burning … or being bulldozed, as in detroit and New Orleans. Frat boy is close enough.

  • yg

    and if he wore a hairshirt and ashes and acted the martyr, wailing in mourning 24/7, how would that benefit the country?

  • Ryan

    That golf club looks shopped. And when has the president ever worn a shirt with so many buttons undone at the top?

  • crabby

    about as well as his golfing is benefitting the country… but isn’t there another option? Your extremist approach smells very republican to me, isn’t that how they use logic? If I say he is jerking off at a critical time, you say sackcloth and ashes. Whereas another approach is office and work, like the grunts do.

  • yg

    he does his job, he puts in the hours. this golfing thing is during the weekends.
    he needs something to burn off the stress. do you begrudge him that?
    carter was criticized for being dour. the country picks up on the mood of the president and it gets reflected back. better to present an image of optimism than despair.

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