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November 22, 2011

Occupy Obama 2

It’s no surprise that the agendas of Team Obama and the Occupy movement would intersect at the President’s first public rally since his Pacific trip, and first appearance since Occupiers were evicted from Liberty Park, then pepper sprayed at UC Davis.

The start of Obama’s speech In New Hampshire was interrupted by an OWS-style mic check, although Obama took it in stride and it didn’t go on very long. More interesting, though, was the bit of theater above, in which an OWS sympathizer, ironically in a suit, passed the President a note on behalf of the movement which was promptly captured and blown up by AP’s Charles Dharapak. (Note to Mr. Suit: I hope OWS isn’t hoping to challenge the Tea Party for its misspelling acumen.)

The symbolism is actually pretty literal. Obama, who has taken a hands-off approach to the movement — when he’s asked about it, he sticks with the stock phrase, “people are frustrated” — is forced to take note of Occupy in a more direct way than he surely would like (which it’s probably why the suit guy looks so pleased.) Most suggestive, though, is that second frame. What Team Obama is surely craving from of a campaign-style event in the now elusive New Hampshire, are ‘08-style images of beaming admiration like we see from the woman lower left (and, if you can judge from one eyeball, the woman far right).  Aside from any blowback associated with ignoring the movement, I’m sure the Administration hopes to avoid what happens in the first frame, in which Occupy, in pressing their concerns, ends up ruining the fan shot,  even causing a wary look.

And then, I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison, but here — in split-screen fashion, just like on CNN, the first shot courtesy of the White House — is visual documentation of the President’s business in Australia, just one day before the pepper spray incident. We are the  99%?

Video – mic check.

(photos 1-4: Charles Dharapak/AP. photo 5: Pete Souza/ White House. caption: President Barack Obama, along with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, visits with students at Campbell High School in Canberra, Australia, Nov.17, 2011.)

  • bks

    Newt is so fat and Obama is so slim.   I wonder how that will play out if Newt gets the nomination?  Imagine Newt in that picture at Campbell High School above.


    • Anonymous

      bks, Yes, and may I add the following about ol’ Newt? Nasty, mean, vindictive, phony, hypocrite, serial wife cheater and divorcer of wife while lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer, flip flopper, mean spirited, babbling brook, using key words to make himself appear intelligent. A terrible man who has been wreaking havoc on and in the country for 40 plus years. CREEP.

  • BooksAlive

    Obama’s reaction to the mic check seemed just like his response to hecklers during his previous campaigning. Give the person/persons time to have their say, then turn the episode into a positive which draws approval from the crowd. Apparently he and his campaign managers intend for him to stay nothing about the mistreatment of occupiers and the journalists who cover them.

  • Thomas Gokey

    The big difference between heckling and mic checking is that a mic check needs dozens, if not hundreds of people to make the human microphone work. A heckler is just a kook who’s often more rude than wise and is interrupting the speaker. A mic check gives voice to the people whose message is being repressed. It’s a way of talking back in a way that heckling isn’t.

    What I find most troubling, if you watch the video of the incident ( ) is that the crowd starts to shout down the mic check with chants of “fired up, ready to go” and then simply “Obama, Obama.” It’s an effective and Orwellian way to make sure that the people’s voice stays suppressed. I think we’re going to start seeing this become the go-to tactic from now on every time a politician gets mic checked and it’s too bad because the mic check is beautiful.

    • T Perky

      So, the ones who waited a long time to hear Obama speak aren’t people and to you, they’re kinda creepy when they respond to heckling. Just like those people who don’t support Palin aren’t “real Americans.”  I guess teabaggers and OWS supporters do have something in common.

    • T Perky

      So, the ones who waited a long time to hear Obama speak aren’t people and to you, they’re kinda creepy when they respond to heckling. Just like those people who don’t support Palin aren’t “real Americans.”  I guess teabaggers and OWS supporters do have something in common.

  • quincyscott

    I don’t read the guy’s look as smug or self-satisfied.  He has gotten a message to the president, like many of us would love to be able to do.  Of course he’s happy about that.  But he also did so in a respectful way, and I see admiration on his part as well.  He’s not throwing a shoe.  Unlike the right, folks on the left seem capable of simultaneous support and criticism.  That’s what democracy looks like.

    • Thomas Gokey

      Yes, the left should be a loyal opposition to Obama who is basically a kind of American Tory president. The right is mounting a disloyal opposition.

  • Enoch Root

    I love the human dimension to all this. The guy passing the note is one brave soul, and I want to buy him a beer. Also the mic check Thomas Gokey links to is a genius bit of civil disobedience; I hope politicians face the mic check threat wherever they go these days, because for it to work, a large number of people in the audience have to be part of it.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand the point of this post. Is there something you want Obama to do that he hasn’t done? (Sorry – having a dull day. Nuance escapes me.)

    (My observation has been that he approves of and sympathizes with Occupy. He does not criticize them, does not recommend that they bathe and find jobs, does not see them as dirty hippies, does not think they should disperse. My guess is that he is privately thrilled by them. They are, after all, getting the press to cover the growing income disparity which he has tried repeatedly and without success to draw attention to.)

    • jonst

      Yeah, I’m sure he is “privately thrilled by them”.  Rahm and Tim G too….just spend their days silently rooting for the Movement. Indeed, I’m sure all the Dems in the Congress are just “thrilled” by the Movement.  Yep….sure.

    • Michael Shaw

      Before I read jonst reply, the “privately” is what stood out to me, also. I’m still trying to find a voice in my “Obama tracking” that is less whiny or critical sticking more closely to the optics as opposed to amplifying (guess that’s a mic check analogy) my own disappointment. I should have left off Australian school children and the Davis pic. The passing of the note, however, is truly interesting and reflective of how OWS, in its creativity, continues to bypass/undermine/expose America/America, Inc.’s conventional political rituals as well as the media’s frame for it.

  • Aurora

    ‘Look at the good posture of those teenagers,’  thinks I to myself…
    further study: ‘oh, they’re Australian, not American, that explains it!’

    not sure what it all means, exactly…

    To Michael Shaw:  Thanks to due you for maintaining this site.

  • Anonymous

    Mirabile visu: a message is passed to the President of the United States without an accompanying bundle of negotiable currency. Where’s the lobbyist(s)? 

  • Gasho

    The anticipation was thick and sweet scrolling down these images to see if the photographer was able to actually capture the message, and sure enough!

    The act of texting truth to power is exhilarating and I his smile is sheer delight.

    With the fact of the photo, and the words, and OUR viewing of the images, Obama is known to have received the message. The message itself refers to his being silent, so how can he refuse to acknowledge and respond to this message? 

    Think about it all coming together: the extreme “we the people” feel of handing it to him, the message itself, the brilliant capture by the photographer, and the awesomeness of the internet and the ‘Bag that brings each of us into it almost first hand — all adds up to an awesome shot.

  • Gasho

    Not to mention the Bag’s insightful title (not sure what the “2″ refers to, but) the Occupy Obama concept is very strong. Every space in the public domain is capable of being occupied. This manifestation of “We the People” (OWS seems limited sometimes) can be in tents, parks, streets, speeches, the internet and even Obama’s consciousness.

  • Michael Shaw

    Thanks for the appreciation. It’s really gratifying to create this space for you, and to watch such thoughtful discussions unfold. I’m more excited and energized about The Bag than I’ve ever been. I hope each and every one of you has a warm and peaceful Thanksgiving.  

    Oh, and this is Occupy Obama 2 because there was an Occupy Obama 1.



  • Suzann

     Just wanted to thank you for a great blog!

  • Suzann

     I think its going to be more difficult than I thought!

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  • Anonymous

    It seems to me if you go out looking for enemies, you’ll find some – whether they’re real, or figments of your imagination. Rahm Emmanuel has nothing to do with Obama’s current campaign and is beside the point. Tim Geithner (everybody’s FAVORITE bad guy) would like to see more prosecutions of the banker-types who caused the Great Recession. Of course, in your universe, Emmanuel and Geithner are a) Obama-the-secret-conservative clones who b) are obviously lying whenever they say things which might be acceptable to liberals and c) ought to be first against the wall when the revolution comes, right along with the bankers, and well before House and Senate Republicans.

  • jonst

    Yes, for sure, Geithner is in search of more bankers to bring to trial. Sure. That’s believable. And no, I don’t think they are secret conservative clones…….I think they are out front, neoliberals.  Oh, and Rahm nas nothing to do with Obama’s current campaign.  Sure. That’s believable too. 

    They all are part of Ruling Class that has sold the American people out.

  • Anonymous

    I like the note, too. My take on the Occupier’s expression was that he was more delighted than smug. 

    So much depends on where we place our disappointment in the happenings of the last three years. Mine rests squarely (and angrily) on the shoulders of House and Senate Republicans and the press, who have behaved in ways so outrageous as to shock the conscience; so I see Obama primarily in the role of liberal leader stymied by the right, always inching forward, dragging whatever small victories he can from under the noses of those I believe to be true enemies of democracy.

  • jonst

    The word “liberal” as you employ it here to describe a “leader” would stick in my throat, if one tried to educe me to utter it.  I understand you are sincere–and time may even prove you correct.  Mine is not the only ‘true path’.  But to describe this man, and this Class, as “Liberal”……  As they say in the law…’shocks the conscience’.

    I fully expect the GOP to do what it does. It is a criminal Class as far as I’m concerned.  The Dems? A cowardly Class.

  • Anonymous

    What would anybody (not just Obama – any president) have to do to earn the label, Liberal, as you understand it?

    (Obama campaigned as a moderate, by the way. The capital-letter-Liberal was Kucinich, a man I respect, but who I wouldn’t entirely want to see as president. He has the luxury of being purely liberal because he ISN’T in the White House.)

  • jonst

    ” TC wrote: What would anybody (not just Obama – any president) have to do to earn the label, Liberal, as you understand it?”.  For starters?  Stop torturing Bradley Manning.

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