I, Caesar


If this photograph had been snapped by a press photographer and published by a newspaper, I wouldn’t think it was a big deal. People’s faces change rapidly while they are speaking and a photo could capture a transitional momentary expression in Obama’s face and make it look like a fixed, arrogant gaze. However, that is not the case here, because this photo was posted on the Internet by the White House. The White House chose to publish this photo of Obama looking disdainfully at his vice president. Therefore it is an expression of the way the White House and Obama want Obama to be seen.

As Paul Rahe explains in detail at Big Government and in several links he provides, Obama has a pattern of deliberately telegraphing contempt toward other leaders.

For the White House deliberately to publish this photo showing Obama with the scornful mien of a despot is extraordinary. It is outside the American experience. And the fact that it’s outside the American experience has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that Obama is nonwhite. As he made clear in his memoir and in various other statements, he feels himself, as a nonwhite person, to be outside America. Therefore, as president, he does not and cannot represent America. Rather he asserts himself over and against America.

His extravagant bowing down and deferential behavior to non-Western, non-white leaders is simply the other side of the coin of his arrogant condescension and studied insults to Western leaders.

Another thing: we’ve sometimes discussed Obama as an empty suit, or even as a “black empty suit.” But could an empty suit have an expression like this? I suppose it’s possible. Obama could see himself as an emperor, and affect the postures and expressions of an emperor, yet still be devoid of substance. After all, isn’t that what we expect of African potentates?

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

What Obama also reminds me of here is Michael Corleone in the last scene of Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, when Michael’s naive, non-Italian wife Kate, having just received from Michael to her great relief his assurance that he had nothing to do with the murder of a rival who has just been murdered, turns and sees him through the open door of his office. His lieutenants are standing loyally around him kissing his hand while Michael, with the proud arrogant look of an emperor, accepts their homage, and Kate finally realizes at that moment what he really is.

Karl D. writes:

One thing that has always got me about Obama was his seeming total lack of personality. His is an impenetrable mask that seems devoid of any emotion. Like a supreme poker face. It is the very opposite of the American personality which is world renowned. I was racking my brains to think of past leaders to compare his demeanor and immediately Mao came to mind. Obama seems very Asiatic. Cold, calculating and totally insular. Even the worst European despots had some kind of personality or passion to their being. Think Mussolini, Kruschev or even Hitler!

Paul K. writes:

I think it’s useful to see not only the closeup but the full length photo to capture the totality of Obama’s arrogant pose. The crossed arms and leg are a symbolic barrier in body language. As Biden stands there with his hands in his pockets, the president demonstrates the literal meaning of the expression, “looking down your nose” at someone. In fact, he looks at Biden the way the Chinese premier looked at him in a previous photo posted at VFR.


In the comments under the Obama-Biden photo at the White House Flickr site, an admirer said, “Damn, Obama looks like James Bond in his picture.” I think he looks more like Jack Benny.

Mike Berman writes:

Just because, in reality, Obama is an empty black suit doesn’t mean that he sees himself that way. If the published studies are correct, black self esteem is intact despite their inferior intellect.

This :

“Black adolescents reported higher self-esteem, while Asian American adolescents reported lower self-esteem, compared to their Latino peers,” the authors state.

This :

The report cites research by a social psychologist who found that black youths enjoy the highest self esteem of any ethnic group, regardless of their grades.

And this:

Self-esteem studies have not produced what liberals expected either. Blacks, in general, have higher levels of self-esteem than whites, and integration appears to lower it.

Ed D. writes:

I must say, the close ups are bad enough; the full length is awful.

How would you react if, in the course of conversation, you turned to the person with whom you were talking and saw that? I know that if an acquaintance or even a friend did that to me the first words would be, “Excuse me, is there a problem?” in an assertive tone with a tinge of hostility. Fortunately, I’m no longer 19 years old , because in my immature days, a few vulgar words and insults would have been used by me. That kind of sneering contempt was unacceptable among friends and acquaintances.

And while I can’t say for certain there is a racial component to this, I’d would like to add that Obama’s body language is indicative of a number of black-white conversations I’ve witnessed over the past decade at work. It looks like an average, liberalized white guy blathering like a dummy, trying to make meaningful talk with a black guy (whom I can tell is sizing him up). The conversation at some point will turn to the local sports team because the white guy feels uncomfortable with the gaze he’s receiving from the black guy, and sports are the only immediate commonality he can conjure up. In the coming months, the black guy will ask for favors or for something to borrow from the white guy, who will happily oblige. If all my interactions with white men were like that I’d have reason to think of them as anything other than wimps.

Paul Nachman writes:

I was going to suggest that Obama is substantially taller than Biden, so maybe you were making too much of that photo. But it turns out that Obama is 6 foot 1.5 inches (and weighs between 155 and 165; I’m that height and weigh 157, so he and I are very similar—and I hate him enough that, given the physical parity, I might be able to take him down, given my high motivation) and the VP is 6 foot. So my idea is wrong.

Plus the enlarged view, showing their stances, backs up what you were saying.

The set of Obaa’s mouth is significant, too. I think if he were smiling, the tilt of his head would become ambiguous—he could be laughing at a joke in that case.

Recall, though, that during the early going of the campaign, Obama was praised as “clean” by then-Sen. Biden . It was an amazing statement (though consistent with Biden being a glib lightweight himself), and there might be some residue there. But then why would Biden have been tabbed as running mate.

Josh F. writes:

What would you say was the fundamental difference between what Obama is doing and a very “devout” jihadist?

Paul Nachman writes:

That Paul Rahe piece about Obama’s insufferable arrogance contains links to a series of his earlier entries on the subject. They all tend to quote substantially from previous ones, so they aren’t, as a whole, chock full of new insights. But this one minces no words:

Lehman: Clueless Obama [Robert Costa]

After watching President Obama’s remarks on national security this afternoon, John Lehman, the secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and a member of the 9/11 Commission, tells National Review Online that, “frankly, I’m pi**ed off.”

“President Obama just doesn’t get it,” says Lehman. “I don’t think he has a clue. It’s all pure spin. He’s ignoring key issues and taking respectable professionals like John Brennan and turning them into hacks and shills. It’s beyond contempt.”

“The president has ignored the 9/11 Commission’s report,” says Lehman. “This whole idea that we can fix things by jumping higher and faster is ridiculous. The fact is that the system worked just like we said it would work if the president failed to give the Director of National Intelligence the tools he needs: it’s bloated, bureaucratic, layered, and stultified.”

“President Obama continues to totally ignore one of the important thrusts of our 9/11 recommendations, which is that you have to approach counterterrorism as a multiagency intelligence issue, and not as a law-enforcement issue. He’s made a lot of commission’s members angry for dismissing our report and ignoring key recommendations.” Obama, he adds, has taken a “lawyer-like, politically-correct approach” to national security issues like terrorist watchlists and no-fly lists. “You got to blame the president for enforcing the politically-correct and legalistic policies that led to these failures.”

01/07 07:13 PM

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 07, 2010 02:05 PM | Send

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