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March 24, 2010

Baring the President’s Fists

Obama punching health care.jpg

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If the term “game change” gets thrown around a lot these days, in Obama’s case, passing health care has done just that.

Among the 91 White House Flickr photos in the Health Reform; A Year in Photos” set, you’ll notice three shots that are completely atypical. In each, Obama assumes the pose of a boxer and, in one, looks to throw a punch in the air.

Obama health care fist 3.jpg Obama Health care fist 2.jpg

If health care legislation had not passed, there is not a chance we would be seeing these pictures — not now. Up to this point, in fact, Obama has been extraordinarily cautious not to appear either angry or aggressive in these Flickr shots — that powerful are the racial stereotypes in this not-so-”post-racial” society we live in. With the extraordinarily deliberate, assertive and mammoth health care win, however, Obama gains the capital to claim much greater authority and, with it, individuality. Largely putting to rest the fear of an inexperienced and relatively unknown (and possibly testy) black man in the Oval Office, what the pictures validate is the license — as Pete Souza drives home in triplicate — to reveal Obama as a real fighter.

(photo: Pete Souza/White House. caption: President Barack Obama pumps his fists during a meeting with senior staff in the Chief of Staff ’s office at the White House, March 21, 2010.)

  • renaissance costume

    That’s his victory pose.. :)

  • childan

    yah, he broke his wrist

  • Reece

    makes me think of those iconic pictures of ali throwing punches back and forth with foreman…

  • Demi Moaned

    The empty bookshelves in the background are an odd touch. It looks to me like the White House residence, and I’m not used to seeing it looking ‘unfinished’.

  • george lowry

    >The empty bookshelves in the background are an odd touch.
    Aye… “Bar” or Nancy would never have permitted the rooms to be placed in use of the people’s business before the decorators were done.

  • CF2K

    Robert Williams (“Negroes with guns”) almost 50 years later. We’ve come some ways.

  • Ursula L

    The first picture is interesting not only for Obama’s gesture, but for the person he’s making the gesture at. His attention seems to be on the man seated with his back to the camera. A white guy, graying, balding, in jeans, almost a stereotypical “everyman” from a Teabagger poster.

  • g

    Terrorist fist bumps! ;-)

  • g

    I think that’s Axelrod who’s seated in the first photo.

  • gregw

    I would love to have the context of what he was saying when he made these gestures. I think you are exactly right that these would not have seen the light of day before HCR passed.

  • mad_nVT

    Interesting that Axlerod and another guy are wearing jeans.
    Seems that that is way beyond casual.
    Clearly not disrespectful to Obama, but is it disrespectful to the institution of the Presidency and/or the White House?

  • yg

    the progressive caucus got knocked out.

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