Sunday, August 2, 2009

Rorschaching the President

The above photo originally appeared on the official White House Blog after the highly publicized "beer summit." I came across it myself on Andrew Sullivan's blog, which cross-referenced a post written by Thomas Lifson, a conservative blogger on, who proceeded to interpret the photo in a very negative light.

Submitting the much maligned photo to the "ink-blot test," I decided to offer my own interpretation of it here, because my interpretation is so very different to that of Lifson's--Lifson, as you'll see in a moment, declares Obama's body language in the photo as evidence of yet "another major Obama blunder." From there, he proceeds to leap off the deep end into a highly subjective, scorching attack on Obama.

When I look at this photo, what I see is Obama striding away from a job well done. He is leaving behind two men who, before he brought them together to share a beer in the White House, were unable to speak to each other in a respectful or civil way. Each felt maligned by their previous, most unfortunate encounter--which, like a fly stuck in fly paper, had managed to drag along with it the whole embattled culture of race relations in the U.S. After their White House encounter, however, we see the younger white policeman ever so gently helping the frail black professor navigate down the White House stairs. At least, that's what the body language in the picture says to ME: given the right isometrics, even the most hot-headed of adversaries can get their knickers untwisted. For which, thank you, Mr. President.

So, what does Thomas Lifson see, looking at the very same picture? Here are some bits from his utterly amazing riff:

"Sergeant Crowley, the sole class act in this trio, helps the handicapped Professor Gates down the stairs, while Barack Obama, heedless of the infirmities of his friend and fellow victim of self-defined racial profiling, strides ahead on his own. So who is compassionate? And who is so self-involved and arrogant that he is oblivious?...

"As some AT commentators point out, this picture becomes a metaphor for ObamaCare. The elderly are left in the back, with only the kindness of the Crowleys of the world, the stand up guys, to depend on. The government has other priorities..."

"That's why I think this image will have genuine resonance. It captures something that older Americans in particular can relate to. The President presses ahead with a program that will tell them to take painkillers instead of getting that artificial hip.

"At every stage of the entire Gates affair, Obama has... revealed that he automatically blames the police and thinks they really are stupid to begin with. It didn't trigger a single alarm bell in his mind as he figured out what to say...
The non-apology apology revealed an arrogant man who cannot do what honest people do: admit it when they make a mistake....

"But then in a small moment that nobody in the White House had the brains to understand, Obama goes and sends a body language message like this... he lets his true character show. This helps widen the level of doubt that Obama is the same guy a majority voted for. Those doubts can only grow...I predict that more and more Americans will become open to the argument that they have been had by a sophisticated and ruthless effort to foist a phony on America."

[Thomas Lifson
Hat tip Rick Richman]

"Wow!" says Virgil, my alligator guru who has finally reappeared, after a long hiatus. "This is an odious stunt at best. I think any writer of dirtbag blubber like this must have tomahawk fever, causing him to leave behind such an oily residue." "Yuck!" he adds, stomping his paw, as if trying to squash a roach. "Only the oxiest of morons--somebody with polecat propensities whose liver contains a deadly poison--could jump to such icky and botched conclusions. This guy makes me want to run like a vegetarian at a pig roast." And then, with that final virtuosic flutter, Virgil departs again, to grill some eggplant.

1 comment:

Unknown said...


To my delight, I ran into your blog. Long time no see! Last time we met, you were visiting UGA in athens as a guest of the art education department.

After finishing my MFA, I spent some years getting ground down and embittered by the art world. I changed course and returned to get my teaching certificate. I am now teaching high school art. My school year begins tomorrow. I would love to hear from you- hope you are doing well.

After what felt like an eternity under the Bush regime, I finally feel like I can breath. Though not relaxing too much as there is plenty of agitating yet to be done.

I see you are adding your powerful voice of resistance to the blogosphere, and I am glad.

Your friend,

Samantha Barnum