Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
March 30, 2011

Obama: Too Much TV?

(click for full size)

Released earlier this week, this January 28th photo shows Obama watching Mubarak’s speech the day before he unleashed his thugs on the protesters in Tahrir Square. It’s curious to think about the release of the picture now, though, in sync with America’s engagement in the Libya mission and Obama’s speech to the nation on Monday.  Of course, it’s even more curious to look at this in light of the pullback of the Libyan resistance since the speech.

Glancing at the picture, a critic could say that the President and his people have been watching too much TV, or have been too swayed in their actions (especially the rather impulsive decision to engage Gaddafi) by the powerful imagery and day-to-day mood swings of the Middle East uprising.  Click the photo to full size, and you see a particular and even more interesting detail. In all four windows on the monitor, each representing a different channel, what you see is a split screen, the President of Egypt in one pane and a snapshot of political events in the other (two of those other scenes showing things on fire).

I wouldn’t want to trade places with Obama, and I’m not second guessing the moves he’s made. I am curious, though, how much those moves in the past few weeks — as the WH photo suggests — have been spurred by emotional pictures and Obama’s own “split screen” fears (imaging, say, photos of himself at a fundraiser “side-by-side” with people in Benghazi getting fried).  If the pictures themselves have played a dangerous role, perhaps they have contributed to too great a sense of immediacy — as if Obama felt that taking a pass in Libya would somehow dampen the fire of the democracy movement throughout the rest of the Middle East.

(photo: Pete Souza/White House)

  • black dog barking

    Recall that in November of 1989 the White House of Bush the Elder was watching the Berlin Wall fall on CNN while waiting for the CIA to figure out what the heck was going on over there.

  • Gasho

    These are fast times. I see the impressionist painting above the screens and imagine presidents of past years having time to stare at that and make up their minds about some issue in what would seem like slow motion today. Now the president is staring at incoming information on 4 screens at once and unable to even pull up a chair to do it.

    I can’t imagine how he can compartmentalize well enough to handle the Middle East uprisings, Japan’s meltdown, the Republican idiotic attack on the government, the economy, jobs, a campaign.. not to mention global warming, corporate and Wall Street corruption and being a father and husband!!!!!

    How on EARTH ..?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know if Obama is watching too much TV, but someone needs to teach him to not put his feet on the furtniture.

    • lq

      My thoughts, exactly. Can’t get past the shoe on the furniture.

  • http://homelessonthehighdesert.wordpress.com/ Ten Bears

    That would just make him your typical “American”.

    Ambien, Prozac, Viagra and crotch shots on CNN/Faux News.

    Kool-Aid.

  • http://profiles.google.com/glennisw250 Glennis Waterman

    “especially the rather impulsive decision to engage Gaddafi”

    Um, impulsive? He waited till there was a coalition and the Arab League signed on. The right excoriated him for NOT acting and “dithering.”

    I have mixed feelings about the decision, but it was hardly “impulsive.”

    • Gasho

      I agree.

  • Anonymous

    Middle East uprisings, Japan’s meltdown, the Republican idiotic attack on the government, the economy, jobs, a campaign.. not to mention global warming, corporate and Wall Street corruption and being a father and husband

  • mermer

    Many people who are successful in these new paradigms that can be adapted to find the fastest, or the new ones come to realize that.

  • Pingback: إنو إنتو شو ربكم ؟؟ | المُندسّة السورية

Refresh Archives

Random Notes