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May 28, 2010

Obama Hits the Beach

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Win McNamee/Getty Images

I was interested in your take on this photo-op of Obama’s second visit to the Gulf.

The scene looks deceptively simple, but these things are never that easy and obvious to get right. If you watch the video clip at CNN, Obama is actually quite tense and controlling about getting the right message out, speaking for Admiral Allen about how many ways the oil, once its hits shore, is being cleaned up; stage directing the cameras; spouting other talking points; etc.  The key to this, however, is the picture — not the words, and not the video.

Certainly, having Obama physically getting his hands on the oil and touching the problem was a smart thing (at the same time, picking a spot where there’s so little tar, it also plays down the fallout).  The shots where he’s framed alone — again, not by accident — lends a degree of intimacy that counters the fact he’s the head of a massive bureaucracy that is largely impotent to stem the crisis.

As a way to wrap a disastrous week (better appreciated if you saw our Week in Review), the photo-op might stem some of the anger and frustration that’s tarring the White House. But then, that’s good for a day.

  • yg

    why didn’t the president visit the more heavily impacted marshes?

    couldn’t have picked a better spot for a photo-op if you were doing PR damage control for BP and wanted a scene that most minimized the impact of the oil spill.

  • Mark

    Those boots look like the “boondockers” sailors wear in the Navy.

  • quagmiremonkey

    yg is right, and the thrust of the government’s responses thus far has paralleled BP’s minimization strategy. Given this Admin’s regulatory mismanagement as it opened new areas to drilling with claims of inherent safety, and given value to the party of keeping big oil lobbyists on their side, it’s not surprising the President has chosen to avoid using his news-creating presence in the past weeks, much less this week, to expose more voters to the enormity of this calamity.

    The problem is so small he must bend over to inspect it. When he walks away, it will be invisible.

  • Victoria L. Herring

    This is, as you said, an effective shot. What I particularly like about it is the against-the-rules placement of the president in the right third heading out of the frame, not as many might do, in the left heading in. Of course, that may be because of all the people standing around and to get this lonely shot meant that was how it could be made, but I find it more effective because of the setting.

    This is an unfortunate situation where the right preparations for what might happen were not taken [and they could have been] and we humans are playing catch-up. And there just may not be anything we can do about this, really. It’s a lesson for us all, that we [humans, Americans] can’t always control things and have everything work out no matter our efforts.

    • quagmiremonkey

      It’s confusing that Obama is apparently forgiven for his Administration’s lax regulatory enforcement by the inability of humans to fully bend reality to their desires. The regulations were put in place to guard against the catastrophe that can accompany such endeavors if they exceed our existing ability to recover from accidents. They regulations were most likely ignored because of corruption in Obama’s government, of a desire to please lobbyists more than a commitment to the legal responsibilities of governing. Obama gambled the Gulf and the Gulf lost.

      Perhaps such corruption and the devastation it facilitates are inescapable in the societies that we create. But it should be acknowledged that this White House has now become an example of what we can sink to. If we’re going to look straight at ourselves and consider how we can do better, we can not look to this President as a trusted ally or man invested with great wisdom. There is nothing of substance to support such trust and admiration, in comparison to his repeated demonstrations of preference for reckless greed over the general welfare.

  • Louis vuitton

    As a way to wrap a disastrous week (better appreciated if you saw our Week in Review), the photo-op might stem some of the anger and frustration that’s tarring the White House. But then, that’s good for a day.

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