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December 9, 2012

Obama: The Opposition Is Hard to Make Out

Obama phone Romney election night

Looking at the sixty or so photos uploaded Wednesday to the White House November Flickr stream, I was interested in this one near the top. It shows Obama on the phone with Romney in his hotel room on election night. (Please don’t go all “Obama looks at things” on me, but it really is impressive how much effort the White House has put into photographing Obama taking this important phone call or that).

Certainly, there is no reason to doubt it was noisy. Still, combined with the rather dismissive nature of the photo of Obama’s lunch with Romney at the White House, the fingers in the ear and the balancing on the chair are fun to think about. With Obama flexing his muscle with the opposition since the election, I wonder how much the photo solely documents a concession call and how much, if any, it also conveys the sense “its been pretty hard to hear you all along” or “I just want you and everybody else to know that I’ve got a lot of people out there screaming for me right now” or “we’re sitting pretty right now.”

(photo: Pete Souza/White House caption: President Barack Obama talks on the phone with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Presidential Suite at the Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park in Chicago, Ill., Nov. 6, 2012.)

  • Thomas Gokey

    Visually there is a tension between “I’m listening” and “I’m not listening.”

  • bks3bks

    It’s probably a cell phone. The sound quality on cell phones is so bad that for important (non-emergency) calls I demand that my interlocutors use landlines.


  • Enoch Root

    To me this gets back to the empty chair. There is clearly a chair, and Obama seems to be seated or leaning on something… Is it the table? No, there’s the chair in the way. So it’s visually ambiguous until you realize it’s an optical illusion and he’s leaning on the back of the chair.

    So: Those awkward chairs make lousy props. “Mr. President, could you please lean up against something that’s not out of M. C. Escher? Thanks.”

  • Helen

    I don’t think the meme of that Fickr stream is Obama lookin’ at STUFF — instead it’s Obama listenin’ to, and reachin’ out to — PEOPLE.

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