Obamus Maximus and guests leaving imperial palace


Thomas Lifson at American Thinker says that he is “stunned that the official White House Blog published this picture and that it is in the public domain.” He goes on to expatiate on what the photo says about Obama.

I agree. I am amazed that the White House—which normally does everything it can to protect a president’s image—chose to publish this iconically damaging photo of Obama. Meaning that they are so full of Obama worship that they didn’t see what was damaging about it.

(“Obamus Maximus” comes from AT contributor J.R. Dunn.)

- end of initial entry -

Mark A. writes:

Note that Obama strides ahead of his guests in complete self-absorption. Also, Gates is supposed to be a personal friend (Obama calls him “Skip”), yet Obama leaves the white guy to help his friend down the stairs. The photo was published to demonstrate Obama and Gates’s Negro authority. Crowley, being too stupid to know why he’s there, is depicted as the new house nigger.

LA writes:

In light of Mark’s comment, I realize that in my earlier comment (“they are so full of Obama worship that they didn’t see what was damaging about it”), I provided the explanation for the thing that I said was so amazing. The photo is only amazing and unbelievable from a non-pro-Obama perspective. To non-pro-Obamites, the photo shows the president in a shockingly unattractive light. But to pro-Obamites, the photo is a picture of the way things ought to be.

LA continues:

Carol Iannone has a very different interpretation of the photo, explaining why the White House did not feel it was damaging to Obama. As Miss Iannone sees it, the photo doesn’t make Obama look arrogant and self-absorbed. Rather, it shows him as having successfully led Gates and Crowley to the promised racial reconciliation.

Which leads me to this thought: Obama in the photo could be seen as the nonwhite equivalent of the statue of Theodore Roosevelt in front of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, in which Roosevelt is portrayed heroically astride a horse, with an American Indian in full regalia walking on his right, and a robed African walking on his left. The Anglo-American as the leader of the races of mankind, progressing together in harmony, has been replaced by Obama in the same role, except that in the new, nonwhite-centric, left-liberal version of the old iconography, the white man is the helper of the disabled black.

By the way, how long will the Roosevelt equestian statue last?


Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:

There are so many things to deconstruct in this photo. Obama, when viewed in light of his “slipping mask” as Thomas Sowell writes here, will continue to give endless speculations about his behavior and true intent.

In this image, Obama is walking ahead of the two, showing his superiority in a self-satisfied manner. One of the men behind him is a fellow black, who is physically weak. The other is a white cop (full of physical strenght) who is helping this physically weaker black man.

In the statue, Roosevelt’s superiority is more dignified and heroic. The other two people are on either side of him, and both are standing tall, albeit at a lower level than Roosevelt. They are also of different races. Neither is lagging behind, following. Both are progressing together with Roosevelt in harmony, as you state. And no-one is giving an obvious “helping hand” to another; they all seem strong and able (here is the other side of the statue). There seems to be a dignity bestowed on all three.


The historical relationship of whites helping weaker blacks is pronounced in the above Obama picture because of Gates’s ill-health. And Obama is the black leader who can finally, personally acknowledge and encourage (coerce) that—on his own terms. There is no harmony in Obama’s picture, as you state there is in the Roosevelt statue. Obama is all about disharmony—to the advantage of blacks.

Anna writes:

I always appreciate your comments, even, or perhaps especially, when they disagree with mine.

Here, I think, we expatiate (I had to look that up) too much. I still reserve judgment on Mr. Crowley.

LA replies:

Well, be sure to see Carol Iannone’s positive view of the photo (discussed above) which is the opposite of mine. She says that with Crowley helping Gates down the stairs, it’s a picture of human compassion and racial reconciliation, brought about by Obama. There are distinctly different ways people can read that photo.

David H. from Oregon writes:

I predict that within a few days a new brand of beer will be available. It will be something like Teachable Moment Brew, and the logo will be four hands hoisting and clinking four steins of beer!

Bill Carpenter writes:

Narcissist in chief. It’s all about him, all day in every way. Hence the autobiographies. Or, why traditional societies instinctively shut out people from authority who don’t have a recognized place in such societies.

Charles Krauthammer writes at the Corner on July 31:

This is a typical Obama. He commits an offense against the public good—he imputes racism where there was none—and then he declares it a teachable moment in which he will instruct us on tolerance, understanding, and brotherhood.

Now, he did this before. He does it over and over again. He’s found in bed last year after 20 years with a raving racist. (We had known he had been in the church of Jeremiah Wright, but we didn’t know about his racism until the middle of the campaign.) And what is Obama’s response? He gives a speech on race, another teachable moment, in which he ascribes racism to everyone—white working class, African-Americans, Jeremiah Wright, his own grandmother—except himself. And he stands there hovering above it all, teaching us the ways of tolerance and brotherhood.

Look, he may be a great president or a lousy one, but when he acts in this way, when he stands above the fray in a patronizing and condescending way, instructing us on the ways of the world, I find him insufferable.

Otherwise, I’m sure he’s a nice guy.

August 2

Kidist Paulos Asrat writes:

Anna writes: “Here, I think, we expatiate too much.”

Over the months since Obama went on our screens and the internet, I have been surprised at how people have avoided looking at him. I’ve wondered why, and I actually think it is part of a self-censorship. He is a complicated figure, and the well known fact that he doesn’t look like other American presidents is the least of it. Journalists, commentators, and pundits don’t want to get the flack for their “interpretations.” They are afraid to judge the image, it seems to me.

But image interpretation (paintings, sculptures) has a long tradition. It is a rigorous discipline, as important as literary criticism. Yet it is largely ignored. Despite the fact that we are constantly bombarded by images, the modern method of critical interpretation relies on verbal and written disciplines.

Secondly, image interpretation doesn’t come in isolation. We almost always have a context to work with. In this case, Obama manipulated this meeting, in addition to the fact that he made the decisive arrangement for the three to meet over beer. Obviously the photograph of Obama and his guests stepping down from the front entrance of the White House is a part of that manipulation. What is the White House seeking to convey by that image? This is something worth thinking about.

Also, our day-to-day interactions involve visual cues and interpretation. Most people are naturally astute at picking up visual cues.. We would be lost without this faculty.

Another thing is that most painters, sculptors, and even documentary filmmakers don’t have a strong presence in the written media, so that when it comes to the anomaly that is Obama, he is interpreted mostly by writers.

My point is that the images of Obama tell us a great deal about him, but that this important source or information is largely ignored. Therefore we are not expatiating too much.

August 3

Jim B. writes:

Officer Crowley distinctly said in a videotaped interview that “I didn’t vote for him,” meaning Obama. It occurs at 2:00 minutes into the following video interview.

I’ve watched pretty much all the videos and read everything I could about CrowleyGate and I’ve come away with great admiration and respect for the way Sergeant Crowley stood up for his actions. Not many people could have handled those initial days as well as he did.

Crowley is a good soldier, a man who loves his country and by extension greatly respects its institutions, including the Presidency. There was no way Crowley could have refused Obama’s invitation to the White House. If he did try to hold out for an apology before going, he position would have been excoriated by the liberal media as evidence of Crowley’s racial animus.

I will say I think Crowley is in awe of the status of a Harvard professor and the education necessary to attain that feat, however undeserved it might be in Gates’s case. In the photo of Crowley helping Gates down the steps at the White House I saw a number of things. One in particular is that Crowley is amidst his enemies and unaware of it. Here are two wildly successful race hucksters, both of them lacking in character, both of them artfully deceitful and both of them exploiting a fine and decent white citizen for their own ends. Sad really. Just days earlier, Gates was publicly trying to destroy the officer. Crowley is unaware of their real ambitions because he does not think like them or know what they want. It is why the West is in decline. They have found our Achilles heel.

My worry is that over time, by friendship and academic lecture, Gates will get Crowley to admit he may have he erred in arresting him. That will be Gates’s end game, and, if achieved, he will waste no time going public with it.

LA replies:

This is an excellent, balanced summing up of the different aspects of the situation. I admire this comment. I’m posting it in the current entry and also in the “Obamus Maximus” entry.

I have to add that just a few minutes ago as I was walking to buy a soda in my neighborhood I had a fantasy/daydream that was the opposite of yours. I imagined that after a couple of social get-togethers with Crowley, Gates came out and said, “I want to say to the world, Officer Crowley did nothing wrong that day. He was properly doing his job. The person who showed racial bigotry was not Crowley but myself. I projected my negative feelings about white police in general onto this good man who was just doing his job of protecting the public and enforcing the law.”

And then I thought, if Crowley managed to lead Gates in this direction, his decision to accept Obama’s invitation and even meet again with Gates afterward would have been shown to be right, and my criticisms of him for accepting the invitation would shown to be wrong.

I’m not saying that I think this is going to happen. I’m simply reporting this fantasy that came to me as I walking along.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 01, 2009 12:30 PM | Send

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