Feature

The Obama photo 'smear'

How a Flickr photo of President Obama and Vice President Biden turned into a blogger war over race

A photo of President Obama and Vice President Biden, originally published on the White House Flickr page, has brought the different ways the Right and the Left perceive the president into sharp focus. After Glenn Reynolds, the conservative blogger behind Instapundit, posted the photo and vaguely invited readers to "analyze the body language," he began posting their responses, including some that suggested the president looks "tipsy" or contemptuous toward Biden in the shot. Other bloggers from across the political spectrum rapidly weighed in on both the photo itself—and on what the subsequent debate has revealed:

The photo's meaning entirely depends on whether you like Obama or not: "This picture strongly says 'cool' to people who love [Obama]" says conservative blogger Ann Althouse. But the thing is, some people "don't even want a cool president."
"Damn, Obama looks like James Bond in this picture"

The Right's interpretation of the photo reveals that conservatives always make it about race: After trying to "puzzle this one out," says Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Dish, I've "realized" why a "photo of a tired Obama ... immediately strikes some people" as damning: "Obama is a black man who looks as if he is condescending to a white man." For conservatives, "that's political gold."?
"Photo-smearing Obama"

Clearly, it's the Left that always makes it about race: Of course, Andrew Sullivan would say that "commenting on photos from the White House Flickr feed is racist," Glenn Reynolds responds in Instapundit. Race-baiting "is the last refuge of Obama fans these days, isn't it?" Pretty soon, Sullivan will be arguing "that people are really just upset that the maid vacuuming the Oval Office is white."
"Obama and Biden: Analyze the body language"

If nothing else, this incident proves that Glenn Reynolds is a master manipulator: All this photo reveals is Glenn Reynolds's ability to "rile up" liberals, "so that [he] can say liberals make everything about race," says Alex Pareene at Gawker. But despite the fact that Reynolds never explicitly mentions "what caught his eye" about the photo, he obviously "finds Obama's expression insufficiently deferential."
"Isn't this picture of Obama and Biden...interesting?"

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