Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
March 26, 2010

Obama on Offense: Taking Off the Mitts (and the Karls)

Obama Romney Rove bookstore Iowa.jpg

If the McCain campaign set in place various toxic narratives about Obama as a narcissist and a celebrity, perhaps that cultural programming is still getting in the way of seeing just how confident a person Obama is, and to appreciate it as a healthy thing and just one part of his personality.

So far, the American public has seen Obama operating from pretty poor field position. With the health care win, however, he’s already jumped way out on offense. (You could see this coming, by the way, just by watching how Team Obama and Nancy Pelosi expertly framed the passage of health care — for those last three weeks — as inevitable.)

Beyond the confidence, though, what makes this a significant image (another view) is how much it flies in the face of the typical humility and “know your place” expected of Democrats. In this photo op in an Iowa book store, in fact, Obama not only goes out of his way to mock the Republicans, past present and future, in good humor — in notable contrast to the grim, angry and fear-mongering opposition — but does so with, umm, no apology.

(photo: Jason Reed/Reuters. caption: U.S. President Barack Obama holds up books by former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President George W. Bush’s political strategist Karl Rove (L) as he shops for books for his daughters Sasha and Malia at Prairie Lights book store in Iowa City, March 25, 2010.)

  • dbrown

    Beware of hubris, Mr President, though that smirk does look good on your face. Change feels good. The Rs are in retreat, but that rarely lasts long, so now is the time to charge ahead and do some real change.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/kyrafrostblogspotcom Kyrafrost.blogspot.com

    I’m am always curious at how we view things through the lens of our own opinions. I see no smirk, but rather a wide, engaging smile. Simple enjoyment. I do love how the photograph is framed with “Women’s Studies” in the background.

  • nightbird

    dbrown…
    Smirk? Hubris? I don’t think so. Ya wanna to see smirk? Let me remind you…http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/the-most-inappropriate-bu_b_78357.html
    I found myself smiling along with Obama… its infectious. Shopping for books for his girls…nice. I appreciate your steadfastness in insisting on “some real change”. For now I think the photographer simply captured a moment when the leader of the free world felt relaxed and in good humor. It is in its own way reassuring. Take a breath.

  • indybend

    No smirk at all, in my view. In any case, he shows appropriate amusement, given the ridiculous positions of the Republicans in the past few months. Also, I hear that in the print version of the New York Times, the picture was captioned “I think I’ll wait for the movie.” That got a smile from me too.

  • http://solarray.blogspot.com gmoke

    When I saw Obama’s signature on the health care bill I went, “Whoa, this guy is really confident.”
    Take a look: http://images.google.com/images?um=1&hl=en&client=safari&rls=en&tbs=isch%3A1&sa=1&q=obama%27s+signature&aq=0&aqi=g1g-m1&aql=&oq=Obama%27s+sign&gs_rfai=&start=0
    Obama has always impressed me as a person who knows his own center and is almost never pushed off it. The only time I saw him wobble was with the Rev Wright affair. I don’t think he’s overconfident. My perception is that he knows exactly who he is and how he works. This dude is supremely secure within his own skin.

  • mad_nVT

    Nice that Rove and Romney are on the same table as the book “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”
    Cause Rove and Romney need to so some sharing on that topic. “No apologies” and “no consequences” for the gross inequality in the US is sure enough what we expect out of today’s GOP.

  • zgv

    Nice Photoshop work…

  • EmilyPeacock

    President Obama has a genuine smile – it reaches all the way to his eyes. For smirking personified I can think of no better exemplar than Mrs. Palin.

  • Chris

    This photo was taken at Prarie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City.
    It is one of the best shops we have in the state.
    To show how open-minded the staff is, they even stock the less desirable titles like the ones Obama is hoisting.

  • yg

    the way he turns the O into crosshairs has always bothered me.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes