A Picture Has Power – The Situation Room Photo

I follow Pete Souza on Twitter, he’s the official Whitehouse photographer. Today he tweeted a link to this story on CNN’s website by John Blake. He quotes from Cheryl Contee, co-founder of Jack & Jill Politics, you need to bookmark that site right now. I’m just going to share a few pieces of the CNN article that stuck out to me, go read the whole thing. First, let’s look at the photo in question one more time…

From CNN’s John Blake…

(CNN) — By now, the photo is a classic. It’s become the most viewed image on Flickr — a mesmerizing picture that suggests as much as it reveals.

You may know it simply as the “Situation Room Photo,” but you may not be aware of what some say are three subliminal messages that make it so powerful and unusual.


But look deeper and that photo becomes historic in a more subtle way. It’s a snapshot of how much this nation’s attitudes about race, women and presidential swagger are changing, several scholars and historians say.


There’s no historical precedent for this image, she says. White Americans now see a black man not just as their president but their “protector in chief,” Contee says.

“That photo is amazing,” she says. “It’s another step toward rehabilitation of the image of black men in American culture. It’s going to forever impact how people see black men in America.”


For much of U.S. history, the black man has often been portrayed as the threat to America’s safety — the angry man, the thug, the one you cross the street to avoid, says Cheryl Contee, co-founder of Jack & Jill Politics, a blog focused on current affairs from a black perspective.

But in the Situation Room photo, Contee says, the black man is America’s protector.


“This is one of the rare times that Tea Party supporters have referred to Obama as President Obama,” says Ari Kohen, an associate professor of social justice and political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Go back and examine the defining historic photos of American military might in action, and women are absent, historians say.


Yet you see two powerful women in the Situation Room photograph — Clinton and Audrey Tomason, director for counterterrorism, who is straining to see from the back. Their inclusion shows how far women have come, Ambar says, even though Clinton’s response is ambiguous because she’s covering her mouth in what looks to be alarm.

And there is much more good stuff in John Blake’s article. For those people playing the pundit games they like to play, I keep hearing how this OBL event won’t have any long term impact on the President’s approval ratings or chances in 2012. Anyone who is saying that doesn’t understand the psyche of the American people very well. On Monday, I heard an anecdote that I know happened all across the country. A person on the street said to a reporter, “I didn’t vote for him last time, but I’m definitely voting for him next time. He got Osama bin Laden.” I wrote about this a little in a post the other day, that the effect on the entire country on 9/11 was profound. Something that hit deep inside all of us. For people to say that bringing Osama bin Laden to justice will not have an impact on the electorate is just plain stupid. President Obama showed once again that he is the most qualified person in public life to run this country.