Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
October 31, 2010

Final Election ‘10 Obama Portrait

<h6>Doug Mills/The New York Times</h6>
Doug Mills/The New York Times

…Ron Bonjean, a Republican strategist, said Mr. Obama had not connected with popular discontent. “A lot of people have never been to Washington or New York, and they feel people there are so out of touch,” he said. “When you’re unemployed and you’re sitting in your living room and you hear the president say, ‘You don’t understand what the problems really are — you’re just scared,’ that makes people really, really angry.”

from Elitism: The Charge That Obama Can’t Shake (NYT WIR)

Building a portrait around the thoughts of top Republican operatives Michael Gerson, Mark Salter and Ron Bonjean, as well as unnamed “critics,” the thesis on this election final Week-in-Review profile is that Obama is a “Harvard-educated millionaire elitist” who thinks that people who disagree with him “just aren’t in their right minds.”

With one day to go before this critical mid-term election in which front groups, backed by largely unidentified special interests, have invested huge sums to elect conservatives who are either not-so-intellectual, I guess, or just smart enough to hide it better, one would have expected a little more, no?  But then, who could think of a greater threat than reason and intellect both to these vacuous mid-term elections and to this deep thinking President — so much so that the accompanying photo (from such a high-minded news source, no less!) connotes Obama doing his typical thing, which is looking down on the anonymous and obviously unfocused American voter.

Lest you think this is a full-throated defense of Obama, however, it’s just as clear the President is being used as a straw man in an election in which deeper thinking has lost out to stupid.

  • Vvoter

    This image hardly reinforces the elitist narrative.

    Look again. If the potus is looking down on the anonymous voter, he sure isn’t looking down from very high. Almost parallel, in fact. Just high enough to reveal an expression of close attention. For all the right-wing belly aching about BO’s long winded, professorial tendencies, this image effectively mutes BO.

    Otherwise, we should grant that BO’s status renders spatial metaphors somewhat appropriate – Harvard Law, successful author, and, for chris’sake, the potus!

    • black dog barking

      Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Gasho

    I agree with Vvoter that this says nothing “elite” to me.. I find it almost exclusively dizzying. It centers Obama in a fuzzy world with a blurry audience of one. I get next to nothing from this when I try to ‘read into it’.

  • Blue Shark

    …I just see the POTUS unable to present a clear message and being shut out by a blurry, anonymous listener.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes