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January 28, 2010

Obama-eye View

Members of Congress, the Cabinet, and Supreme Court applaud as President Barack Obama enters the House Chamber to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Jan. 27, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza))
(Click for scary full size)

Because Obama won a weekly news cycle for the first time in … I don’t remember, and because I don’t recall seeing this SOTU angle done before, here you go. Souza’s photo is interesting for a number of reasons. I’ll just tick off two:

Because the pressure to deliver on Wednesday was so high, this (wary) scene of applause — delivered out of protocol, and mostly looking like it — now seems to reflect, in retrospect, how easily Obama cleared the bar.

Another aspect (which might actually be a very funny joke on Pete Souza’s part), is how the picture — beyond “heavy is the head that wears the crown” — has a “Moses/parting the Red Sea” kind of feel to it. Given how the right wing tried to puncture Obama’s early popularity with allusions to his deification (Malkin couldn’t type “Obamessiah” often enough), and then, given how fast Obama lost the pedestal once elected, the picture (actually riffing on Obama’s tone in his speech) is a also a wry twist on all the hope, hope, hope and larger-than-life expectations.

(photo: Pete Souza/White House. caption: Members of Congress, the Cabinet, and Supreme Court applaud as President Barack Obama enters the House Chamber to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, Jan. 27, 2010.)

  • http://www.Bush2012.blogspot.com Hans

    There is something exhilarating about this photo.
    It is my new iconic image for Obama’s post-Mass pivoting moment

  • http://www.dvafoto.com Matt

    What about SCOTUS on the left with the eyes closed.. willing it all away? interesting given the touch obama dealt against them later in the speech.
    Great image (even with old Washington Gov Locke on the right .. still not used to seeing him national)

  • soineedaname

    Alito’s condescending smug-mug (just to the left of Roberts) now seems prescient, along with his pinky-out-to-the-side perfunctory applause.
    Who the hell claps like that?

  • bystander

    golf clap

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p00e54ff1cf6f8833 Inigo Montoya

    Alito and Roberts, eyes closed, can’t bear to watch a crowd welcoming Obama. Alito is pure petulance: “Okay, okay, I’ll pretend I’m clapping and then I’ll sit through the idiot’s speech. Whatever.”

  • susa n

    Geithner thinking, “Damn public opinion, the President is on my side.”

  • thirdeye pushpin

    the gauntlet between blind justices and finance just got opened wide by the president, it does seem like energy has something to do with it…but who is the first guy on the left

  • http://groksurf.com/ GrokSurf

    Another SOTU angle I don’t recall seeing before was the one from directly overhead looking straight down that appeared in the telecast.

  • Mum

    That was the first thing I noticed in the photo. His clap looks like something a cranky teenager would do if they he was asked to do something he really didn’t want to do. It also seems as if he has his eyes closed, rather than just being caught in a blink, which seems even more childish. And you’re right. Had I seen this photo (or the display it captures) before the SOTU, his comment during the SOTU wouldn’t have come as as much of a surprise as it did.

  • Mum

    That shot was really cool, and I also don’t remember seeing it before. (Of course, I do have to admit that I only watched one Bush II SOTU. I was too worried that I might damage my television screen. I read the transcripts instead.)

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