August 14, 2010

From the White House official Flickr site...

... here's an interesting new photo:

P071410PS-0243

It's supposed to be symbolic, right? The President, having reached the top of a staircase, encounters a closed door. Seemingly unaware that the door is unbolted, the President stands frozen, statue-like, gazing at a black-and-white photograph of a panel discussion. What does it mean? It looks like a scene in a video game, doesn't it? What will happen if he opens the door?

IN THE COMMENTS: Doug urges us to read the caption, as if the caption answers an interesting question.
President Barack Obama waits to be introduced at a critical infrastructure CEOs meeting on cyber security in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, July 14, 2010.
But to me the interesting question — and I had read the caption when I wrote this post — isn't: What was actually going on when this picture was taken? It's: Why did the White House choose this picture, from the 1000s of pictures taken? There is a message — an image — that this picture was thought to convey. What was that message? Does this picture actual convey that?

87 comments:

c3 said...

the "photo" looks like a monitor. My first thought was he's about to step out on the "stage" and is first checking out the audience. He's not looking at the door so its not one of these moments

Dead Julius said...

Obama needs to take a moment upon reaching the top of the stairs to observe what's happening through a video screen rather than with his own eyes. He's not opening the door because that would mean he had to engage the scary world he sees partially portrayed on the screen. He would have to get to work and he don't want to do that. Much better to dwell in the accomplishment of having climbed to the top, and observe, secondhand, without doing anything.

rhhardin said...

I assume it's a potemkin audience too.

Doug said...

"President Barack Obama waits to be introduced at a critical infrastructure CEOs meeting on cyber security in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, July 14, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza"

Helps to read the caption ;)

David said...

He's waiting for instruction on what to do next. Teleprompters everywhere

AllenS said...

Inside the door is a broom, dust pan, mop and a bucket. He wouldn't know what to do with any of them.

kathleen said...

That's a picture inside his head, watching himself be the President, thereby illustrating his disengagement.

edutcher said...

"What will happen if he opens the door?"

Impeachment?

Jan Brewer?

The people?

showbiz111 said...

The President is shocked to discover a photograph in the WH that doesn't include Him!

pm317 said...

"It's supposed to be symbolic, right? The President, having reached the top of a staircase, encounters a closed door. Seemingly unaware that the door is unbolted, the President stands frozen, statue-like, gazing at a black-and-white photograph of a panel discussion. What does it mean? It looks like a scene in a video game, doesn't it? What will happen if he opens the door? "

wow, what imagination! Is that what made you vote for him?

Quayle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quayle said...

He's watching reruns of his best campaign moments.

They play non-stop, 7x24 on the White House closed circuit network.

pm317 said...

@Quayle, This is for you..

“Apparently, Mr. Obama mistook the captioning for his new flat screen teleprompter and began reading the text aloud,” Gibbs said. Gibbs stated that “what followed was a tragic marathon speaking session that lasted for nearly 14 hours before staff discovered Obama and disconnected the device.”

Mick said...

The product of a willfully ignorant electorate.

Palladian said...

President Recursion.

Synova said...

In the case of the White House Flickr photos I agree with Althouse that they're supposed to be symbolic and evocative of something. I disagree about the "subliminal" crosses and NIG on pajamas, but this isn't subliminal.

What I have to doubt is that the person picking out the photos for their "arty" qualities is paying attention to who is in the pictures. An "art" photo isn't a portrait and, it seems to me, the "people" in them become props for symbolism.

Here is a picture of someone who has climbed to the very top only to be met with a closed door. He can only watch the world remotely. He is alone.

Someone else can decide if it's a picture of a black man who has climbed to the very top only to be met with a closed door and thus represents continued oppression.

What an odd set up, though... to wait in a stairwell to step out on a stage as soon as you hear your introduction through the monitor. A stairwell?

Kirby Olson said...

Something's the matter w his left pant leg.

I'm stunned that they let this photo out. The only thing O's got going for himself are that his clothes fit.

Turtledove said...

He doesn't know where he's going or what he's doing.

lemondog said...

Panel discussion moving forward having neglected to introduce him.

He has been forgotten.

Replay of the Invisible Man.

Issob Morocco said...

"Who can I fuck over now, hmmm...."

Palladian said...

Double Bind.

exhelodrvr1 said...

I deserve good things. I am entitled to my share of happiness. I refuse to beat myself up. I am attractive person. I am fun to be with.
I'm going to do a terrific show today! And I'm gonna help people! Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!

Deb said...

Obama has his chin tilted at an angle that makes him look rather childish. Does the person doing the intro know Obama is watching offstage, looking at that weird little monitor. Will he with a wave of his hand signal the President to step through the unbolted door. Or perhaps he'll justshout, "Barak Obama, Come On Down!"

wv: clastrop. This administration is a clastropee.

GMay said...

The door represents race and partisanship.

He was able to climb the stairs quickly and securely. All he has to do is walk through the door he himself unbolted. Instead, he chooses to watch the world through someone else's eyes.

What do I win?

former law student said...

The official White House photos are not supposed to be symbolic; they're supposed to document the presidency hour by hour, day by day, week by week.

White House photographer Robert McNeely took a half million pictures during the Clinton presidency.

Deb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AlphaLiberal said...

It means he has paused to look at the video screen.

Quayle said...

Palladian, you're in very fine form this morning.

Quayle said...

AlphaLiberal, you're in your usual form.

JAL said...

So. He's a little pigeon toed.

So what.

The fact that he is clueless and at the same time destructive, is independent of his being slightly pigeon toed. (That has shown up before. Kinda cute.)

kimsch said...

The "staircase" is probably only 4 or 5 steps up, the distance from the floor to the stage. If you click through and look at the "original size" photo you can see ghostly people through the large dark window to the President's right.

WV: inessedi

Akiva said...

I have climbed to the top to find the world is operated by remote control.

bagoh20 said...

It's odd to see a President anywhere alone. It's like he got fired, and nobody want to talk to him now.

AllenS said...

Inside that door is the unisex bathroom. Mounted on the wall is a hand dryer. The message on the hand dryer says: "For a short message from President Obama, please push button."

paul a'barge said...

HE'S reading instructions on how to open a door.

bagoh20 said...

"HE'S reading instructions on how to open a door."

They say:

"To open door:

1) Blame America for having closed doors
2) Tax door manufacturing
3) Regulate door installation
4) Threaten Locksmiths
5) Pass a 2000 page bill on something
5) Go Golfing

bagoh20 said...

Oh yea, then tell everyone how your administration has opened more doors than any other, and that Bush sucks.

FOUR!

Palladian said...

BARRRRY...

HDHouse said...

He is waiting for Bush to leave the room after picking up his crayons? Or Cheney to finish his super secret energy summit? Perhaps Rumsfeld looking for the lie detector..no?

Perhaps he is just waiting for the introduction as the f...g caption says.

Give the right wing a chance to be stupidly snarky and they leap for it like a frog on hot pavement.

HDHouse said...

bagoh20 said...
Oh yea, then tell everyone how your administration has opened more doors than any other, and that Bush sucks."

nah..bagoh20...you said it ok. my saying it would just be piling on.

YoungHegelian said...

As someone who provided computer support to users all throughout the Old Exceutive Office Building for years, let me say I really doubt that that picture was taken in the Old (Eisenhower) Executive Office Building.

The Old Executive Office Building is a huge Second Empire solid granite structure (look it up youself for photos). It doesn't have stairwells like that, and no wood or fake wood flooring. The OEOB is so old there's no central air, and much of the office wiring is outside the walls because the walls are solid granite.

The photo could be taken in the New Executive Office Building on 17th and Penn, but it doesn't look right even for that. Also, in my 14 yr off and on stint at the New Executive Office Building, no president humbled himself to set foot in it.

John Lynch said...

He's on the precipice, er, threshold.

Sixty Grit said...

He reached the top of the stairs, is winded due to his cigarette addiction, he is pigeon toed due to bad genes, and he has a job solely due to being half black. Wait, that's not the caption?

lemondog said...

practice teleprompter.

GMay said...

Palladian at 8/14/10 2:27 PM

I almost missed it. Kinda creepy! Nice one.

GMay said...

HDHouse sniffled: "Give the right wing a chance to be stupidly snarky and they leap for it like a frog on hot pavement."

No matter how much you whine, we're still going to make fun of your boyfriend.

Irene said...

What was that message?

"I am not here to make any friends."

lemondog said...

"Let me be clear...."

Methadras said...

President Barely Kick-Ass is a symbolic President. A president that symbolizes some larger aspiration that we as a society have struggled over the hurdles that allowed us to put him where he is now. He's a symbolic president that looks for symbolism elsewhere for his cues to history and these pictures that are used to exemplify this symbolism are themselves symbolic.

All style, no substance. A cardboard cut-out president. A multi-culti man who embodies the multi-culti way of life. 'Hope' that helps.

Synova said...

Some of the other pictures are pretty interesting too. The one with Biden and the one with Bill Clinton could be a theme "Young Obama taking advice from distinguished white men." The picture of him giving a statement about BP to the press in the rose garden is just bizarre, though. He's so alone and removed from the press. The camera is way back so the whole thing is at a distance but I'd always envisioned the Rose Garden as a sort of elegant but intimate stage. But this looks cold.

I might start looking at the WH Flicr feed more often. It's actually interesting.

Marcia said...

It's meant to create the impression that the President prepares for speeches alone. They got the minions out of the way for the photo op.

Synova said...

The pictures with the girl scouts and with the softball champs are weird. The girl scouts are standing sideways, pressed together in rows (on risers?) so that one wonders if one of them fell, would they all fall, or are they so sandwiched that none of them would fall.

There are fewer softball players so the risers are visible but there is also a second picture that shows the girls all arranged on the risers at the far side of a room while the President walks down a hallway to them. They're crammed together, too, and all ready for him.

Also... I checked and this has to be accidental but there are pictures of Obama listening intently to... Clinton, Biden, John Glenn, Geithner, and Donilon (whoever the heck he is.) Obama (in the same set of pictures) is talking *to* David Cameron, the ladies of The View, and some handicapped people.

I'm discounting where he is giving a speech or talking to a group of people, but if I disallowed the View ladies and the guy in the wheel chair he'd only be giving David Cameron a personal talking to. As it was, it was rather jarring to find the first photo where he was explaining something to someone personally to be with a foreign leader.

(In one exchange with an individual where two pictures were posted Obama is listening in one and speaking in the other. Granted, IIRC, it was at a conference table full of other people.)

Trooper York said...

Oh is Michelle back already?

She must have locked him out of the family quarters.

Ralph L said...

The door isn't wide enough for the ADA.

Aridog said...

Is Obama pigeon toed? He's standing that way in the photo.

Why is there a dead bolt on the egress side of a doorway in a public building? That's like a dead bolt on the stairway side of a fire escape door.

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

Should I change my speech?... Hmm...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Palladian

Mad Photoshop sklz.... FTW!!!

Freeman Hunt said...

AllenS wrote: Inside that door is the unisex bathroom. Mounted on the wall is a hand dryer. The message on the hand dryer says: "For a short message from President Obama, please push button."

Easily the funniest thing I've read in a while.

HDHouse said...

Freeman Hunt said...
AllenS wrote: "Easily the funniest thing I've read in a while."

Allen is funny, have to admit. But you might want to broaden your reading if that quip scores #1 on your laugh-o-meter.

AllenS said...

Admit it, Mr. House, you laughed. Didn't you?

WV: hoddi

Close.

rhhardin said...

It needs a little lighted sign reading "occupied."

c3 said...

Palladian, you have clearly had too much fun with photo shop. The phantom face was the best.

c3 said...

This photo is ripe:

-Apparently BO reflexively does the the Il Duce "chin up"

-What is Joe thinking?
It would be a blessing to be dropped from the ticket

-Look at the angst on Panetta's face

-and Hillary
Just keep your head down and move on. Its better than getting the "suffering wife" questions

former law student said...

The Old Executive Office Building is a huge Second Empire solid granite structure (look it up youself for photos). It doesn't have stairwells like that,

Pictures of the OEOB South Court Auditorium are on the web. They look quite contemporary.

That room appears to be an anteroom for the President's use before he goes on stage. If he sees people jumping on the stage coming towards the door, he can bolt it.

goodspkr said...

"Man, I need to open this door. I really have to pee."

Freeman Hunt said...

Allen is funny, have to admit. But you might want to broaden your reading if that quip scores #1 on your laugh-o-meter.

Oh, c'mon. The image of a President standing on the other side of a wall from a hand dryer, waiting for someone to press a button cuing him to speak is very very funny.

htusrium said...

I think he's carrying a Companion Cube.

Dusty said...

What it tells me is that The Federal government can ignore building codes prohibiting the placement of locks on the outside of points of egress for occupied auditoriums.

ic said...

Message: Those people are so small, he is so BIG.

He can't find the door.

He's clueless how those people could fit in such a small space.

He is dumbfounded where he is.

He runs into a brickwall: his presidency runs into a brickwall. The way out is to open that door and blame those little people inside.

NahnCee said...

The thing I think seeing this is, "I am totally alone." In this world, at this point in time, in this job and in this marriage. Which would be sort of sad if he wasn't so clueless and evil.

Which leads to a second thought: where are the Secret Service?

Which leads to a third thought: what a swell opportunity ...

Namazu said...

Very Magritte. Just another way of telling us what a joke he thinks the Presidency is.

Herr Rot, Vindobonensis said...

The image is symbolic of the situation," Hey, this the Men's room?"

J said...

I just like how the WH is immune to OSHA and Fire Department regulations.
In businesses I've worked at, any door with a latch like that would have been an instant violation and fine. You simply cannot have doors with sliding bolts like that in an occupied space. ALL doors must have panic bars for egress. And I mean EVERY DOOR in the place.

Of course, people who live in the cocooned world of government don't realize this.

JorgXMcKie said...

@Freeman Hunt, the Left doesn't really find much of anything funny aside from being cruel to their 'enemies'. Thus, writing plays in which Bush is assassinated is 'funny' while pointing out Obama's foibles is at least lese majeste if not outright treason.

To parphrase an old feminist joke:

"Humor section? We have no humor section!!! This is a Leftist Bookstore!!"

And I find the pic just one more example of Obama's "odd lack of intellectual curiosity."
;->=

Jim said...

You are in the kitchen of the white house. A table seems to have
been used recently for the preparation of food. A passage leads to
the west, and a dark staircase can be seen leading upward. To the
east is a small window which is open.
On the table is an elongated brown sack, smelling of hot peppers.
A clear glass bottle is here.
The glass bottle contains:
A quantity of water.

RebeccaH said...

Without having read your post or the accompanying caption first, my first impression of that picture was that Obama was waiting to see if he would be let into the room where the big boys were discussing things. I'm sorry, but that's my opinion of him these days.

And I think whoever is managing the White House online photos recognizes Obama for what he is.

Bongo Journalist said...

Re: left pants leg: Trousers were cut for dressing left and accommodating the heft of Big Willie, however the tailor overestimated heft.

Daniel in Brookline said...

I'm not terribly fond of President Obama, but I have to cut him some slack here. When the President of the United States walks into a meeting -- ANY meeting -- everything stops. It makes sense that he'd watch the goings-on for a moment before entering, so as to enter at an opportune moment. Even more likely, he has people inside waiting for the right moment to open the door and introduce him.

Protocol, in other words -- which would apply to any President.

I do wonder why the White House thought this was a good promo for the President. Maybe they thought we haven't seen enough views of the back of his head.

former law student said...

ALL doors must have panic bars for egress. And I mean EVERY DOOR in the place.

Closet doors? Doors to rooms where tables and chairs are stored?

Not EVERY DOOR is an exit. Some doors just lead further into the building. Other doors lead nowhere.

http://www.google.com/images?q=Not an Exit

Will said...

He thinks it is his teleprompter and he is waiting for it to tell him what to do

Alan said...

Now Obama will find out what happened to Schrodinger's cat.

Daniel said...

The photographer posted this because he realized how much more intelligent our president looks from the rear than from any other direction. (And this is despite the snark about his jaw angle, cuffs and alleged pigeon toes.)
The dead bolt is there to protect the president in case there is a fire in the room beyond; it can be used to prevent the fire endangering him in his observation post.

stonelight said...

Whether obama is looking at a monitor or a photo, he is in the image, and has stopped to admire himself

J said...

Quote:
Closet doors? Doors to rooms where tables and chairs are stored?

Not EVERY DOOR is an exit. Some doors just lead further into the building. Other doors lead nowhere.

You're trying to tell me that the space beyond that door is a closet, or otherwise unoccupied? You've never been through and OSHA inspection, have you?

fit2post said...

Pidgeon Toe-bama

Junkyard Ballerina said...

D'OH! fit2post beat me to it!

Oh, and, that's just a delivery from the Wax Museum that hasn't been take inside yet.
(look closely at the head)

No way that's really Him.
Ya's really think He'd leave His one pant leg tucked into His boot like a Typical White Redneck???!