Sunday, February 5, 2012

Can 50,000,000 Obama Fans Be Wrong? (Second Go-round)

I don't know the ultimate source of this photo, but my Tabloid Friend on Facebook reposted it today from another user. The previous poster commented:
Man .. these folks have been a-huggin' up on each other for quite awhile. Here's another piece of my "positivity carpet-bombing campaign" .. It's called L-O-V-E, y'all.

Haters .. don't hate .. just participate.
And he added, "You can see the peace she finds in his arms .. WOW!!"

This must be another talking point for the Obama campaign, focusing on personalities rather than issues. If anyone wants to talk about drone attacks that kill civilians (but not in huge numbers) or the erosion of civil liberties, just bring out the adorable pictures and demand that everybody say "Awwww!" If you don't go along with it, you're a "hater." I've been called worse.

It's a cute picture, all right, but it also shows how little you can tell from a snapshot, which in this case dates from before Obama's emergence as a national political figure anyway, before he'd been coached in posing for effective campaign photo ops. Michelle is hugging Barry, but he's not hugging back. He looks uncomfortable and distracted, though he may just be squinting in the sun. It looks like more of a "Quit hangin' on me, woman!" pose than a "Baby, baby, baby" pose to me.

Which doesn't mean there was trouble in paradise; I have no idea what it means, since I wasn't there and I don't know the Obamas' history. What I do mean is that it's not a romantic photo, and not a very good illustration for the the original poster's caption. But the important thing for the Obama campaign is to flood us with reasons to love Obama personally and distract us from his record. I have no doubt that Ronald and Nancy Reagan loved each other just as much, or George W. and Laura Bush for that matter. It's nice for them, but is no more relevant to Obama's (or Bush's or Reagan's) performance in office than Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton's considerably less warm and fuzzy relationship.

Another commenter, who claims to be able "to tell a lot from snapshots," just chimed in with "I love the way he is squeezing her shoulder and holding onto her jacket collar, they look at ease and just comfortable with each other..." It doesn't look to me like Barry's squeezing her shoulder or holding on to her jacket collar", but look and decide for yourself. And even if she's right, even if I agree that they're a "magnificent couple," what conclusion should I draw from the fact that a man who "look[s] at ease and just comfortable with" his young wife (long before he became President, mind you) can also joke about killing people with predator drones?

P.S. Yesterday someone wrote somewhere about Obama's golf game that it must drive a lot of Republican politicians crazy that a black man has a better swing than they do. No evidence that Obama's game is that good, of course, but it occurs to me now that it might be fruitful to compare Obama to Tiger Woods. Woods also had to contend with racism as he rose to fame and fortune. There must have been white golf fans who were furious to see a black man beating white men in a "gentleman's" game. But that didn't change the fact that Woods was, to put it mildly, a terrible sportsman, given to regular tantrums on the golf course, a player for whom winning was the only thing. This is much less important than Obama's war crimes and disdain for the Constitution, of course. The parallel I'm drawing is that though racism surely underlies a lot of right-wing criticism of Obama, he continues to show that he's not a decent man, no matter how well he photographs with his wife.