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January 21, 2010

Obama at One Year

Obama Inauguration 1yr Flickr set.jpg

Having watched Obama closely, what I see in the picture is a man whose every action is ultimately governed by one factor, which is: whether he’ll be able to get up the next day and still look himself in the eye.

This is the last (and therefore, the lede) photo in the Flickr set the White House uploaded yesterday commemorating Obama’s first year in office. The caption reads:

Jan. 20, 2009 “President-elect Barack Obama was about to walk out to take the oath of office. Backstage at the U.S. Capitol, he took one last look at his appearance in the mirror.”

If his deep morality makes Obama an admirable person (especially after the egocentric, shoot-from-the-hip and profoundly amoral eight years of Bush), it seems that some of that earnestness is getting in his way. Obama’s sense of responsibility (including the responsibility to tackle everything and get “everything right”) and his idealistic quest for broad scale consensus are presenting as obstacles. In the hardball world of Washington, the greater good, or “being the change,” cannot be achieved without spilling some milk, bending some wills, picking some fights, making some enemies — and not always being so proud of yourself.

(photo: Pete Souza/White House)

  • http://photorestorationretouching.com/ professional photo editing

    Great photo. The press in the UK are already writing him off after one by election went the Republican`s way. Bit to soon im my mind!

  • Reece

    “In the hardball world of Washington, the greater good, or “being the change,” cannot be achieved without spilling some milk, bending some wills, picking some fights, making some enemies — and not always being so proud of yourself.”
    I disagree with you, and only because I’m going to allow myself to be an idealist. I think we as Americans need to support people who ARE deeply moral more instead of allowing those who don’t take the high road to prosper. I think that if we want to see someone like Obama succeed we need to do more than wave the flag from our quiet suburban homes, urban apartments, or country houses. There are lots of us that can (and during the election process, did) take our desire for a different America seriously. But we took solace in the idea that all the crap that we took for it would stop… all the racism, all the crazy triangulation… all the usual messaging bull would stop after the election. The crazy thing is that it really didn’t. And now we’re telling Obama, “that’s the price for doing business.” No, people, it isn’t. The price for doing business is hard work. If we’re not willing to work for it, we’ll never get it.
    /idealism OFF

  • Joe Blow

    I am so tired of Obama.
    I had low expectations, but I didn’t think he would be such huge sellout. He never fights for his nominees, he gives lip-service to progressive ideas and then full-service to the repugs and corporations.
    here’s my short list of Obama’s sins…
    fat preacher at inaugeration
    escalation in AFPAC
    no withdrawal from Iraq
    lied about gitmo
    state secrets claims
    no justice on torture
    wasted stimulus on tax cuts instead of building infrastructure
    DADT
    crappy judges picked
    no movement on OLC
    gave up on health reform
    hesitation on climate change
    continuing warrantless spying
    continued detention without charges
    won’t defend admin members under attack
    kissed and made up with fix news.
    here is my list of progressive stands he did take, push and hold:
    (crickets)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/aog Annoying Old Guy

    I read this as there’s nothing Obama likes better than looking at himself being President. All that other policy stuff is just dross he has to go through between the good times with the mirror.

  • speculum

    a plane mirror produces only one inversion: front-to-back. this is called a perverted image,(as opposed, say, to “two-faced”.)

  • Norm

    “a man whose every action is ultimately governed by one factor, which is: whether he’ll be able to get up the next day and still look himself in the eye.” “deep morality”
    This is a man who is using drones to assassinate human beings and in the process killing numerous civilians including children. This is a man who is continuing the use of secret prisons-and most likely-TORTURE>
    this is a man who, instead of meeting his obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture Treaty (which the US is a signatory to) to investigate the Bushies for their admitted use of torture is using the power of his office to prevent investigations and to cover up evidence.
    I voted for Obama, and I’m glad to see he is better than the last guy, but it is onbly a mtter of degree. In essense Obama is just as evil as Bush and Cheney.

  • Norm

    Scott Horton at Harpers calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the deaths of three prisoners at Guantanamo. Obama, as I mentioned above, is obligated to conduct an investigation. I don’t believe he’ll do it. I don’t think he has the spine or morality to brave the republicans criticism shouyld he launch an investigation.
    http://www.harpers.org

  • http://www.rhubarbpie.typepad.com Megan

    The president in the mirror is reduced, displaced from continuity and boxed in. He’s smaller than life and in a different plane from all of us. This is an unkind picture that plays to our suspicions of what Pres. Obama has become.

  • http://www.catinbag.blogspot.com Zoey & Me

    I see a reflection of Jimmy Carter, another one term President who went from President to Resident when he refused to pull the troops out of Iraq. Cozying up to the bankers, continued frat boy policies . . . if he doesn’t change his tune soon, Boston will speak for the nation.

  • Nemo

    Looking at the photo, I think it’s the last look in the mirror before you face the world. It’s almost like making sure everyhting is in place before the job interview, even though he knows he got it.
    A year later has been a disappointment. I think many people projected onto Obama, and did not seem to realise that you don’t get to where Obama is without being vetted by the system. He is of the system, by the system and for the system. All he did was change the background music to something more soothing. Anyway, the problems assailing the US are bigger than Obama. Montesquieu observed a few centuries ago that “The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.” Obama is a product of a system that lost its way a long, long time ago. Don’t be too hard on him.

  • pragmatic realist

    I have the impression that he is watching himself receding, receding, smaller and smaller, fading away. This is so sad and discouraging I can hardly bear it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkPIJq0-gwM Molly

    I agree with the idealist at the top. Whenever I heard the word “change”, I mentally substituted the word “transformation”. Both take hard work and time. I am not surprised nor disappointed by Obama and still expect him to lead well.

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