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November 8, 2009

Health Care Victory, Stage 1: And What Would Losing Look Like?


That’s quite a dodgy photo leading today’s NYT marking the passage in the House of health care reform.

The biggest slam is that Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, is thoroughly obscured, far left, off a preoccupied and nervous-looking Rep. Clyburn’s right shoulder. (Both Clyburn’s expression, and the one on the face of Rep. Larson, far right, smells a lot more of fear and anxiety than anything else.)

Mostly though, it’s the treatment of Obama that’s weird at this undeniably historic moment — as if the Times felt compelled to emphasize obscurity, weakness, distance and, given Obama’s expression, wariness bordering on cynicism.

Of course, the vote wasn’t a resounding one, but then, there’s also the logic — especially in this fractious a Washington — that “a win is a win.” You would never know from this, however. Rather than front-and-center, which is where he was for the official photo-op (as compared to this, say), the Times version has the President — his wave blocking his face and reading as much like resistance or objection — seeming to almost beat a retreat.

(photo: Doug Mills)

  • cat

    I think it reflects reality. They probably are all anxious since this was taken before the vote and final debate. They know it was improbable health care would get this far and they don’t want it to fail now. This was around noon after a pep talk from Obama who frowns a lot or gives a phony smile to photographers lately. Not that I blame him since they follow him everywhere now. Clyburn said it was the hardest vote he had ever whipped. I don’t think he was 100% sure it would pass until after the vote.

  • paulo

    I think 2 of 3 reps look witless.
    Obama seems to point them on from behind – like the master of a bunch of zombies who will go forth to do his bidding.

  • alabama

    Obama’s in focus; the others are blurred.


    Pelosi is hidden like women thrown under the bus ……

  • Bill

    “Rep Larson, far right…” Never heard of the guy. Looks to me like Ted Kennedy’s come back to witness the day.

  • EvilPoet

    The Patriarchy is alive and well. ugh. The stench is unmistakable.

  • mad_nVT

    It seems to me that the Health Care Reform vote WAS a resounding victory, and that Speaker Pelosi deserves the greatest amount of credit.
    If this photo accompanied the article that announced that victory, what does it say about the NYTimes and liberal press that they erase Pelosi and disadvantage President Obama?
    How would FOX News portray Emperor-of-the-Universe Bush in a similar situation?

  • Jonathan Versen

    While I haven’t followed the NYT too closely to get a sense of their view of Obama, this picture reminds me of how many people criticized Obama in the summer for not taking the lead on healthcare, and suggested that he was willing to allow the democratic leadership in congress to iron out the details, and was comparatively unconcerned about the policy fine points. This view, which I gather is pretty common, suggests Obama just wanted any bill he could sign and point to as an achievement for his administration.
    It’s not clear to me if this an accurate view of Obama, but from my vantage point he doesn’t seem too concerned if people see him that way.

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