Since Day 1 of his presidency, Barack Obama has from time to time evinced a Nero-fiddling-while-Rome-burns quality. When crises have arisen, as they inevitably do in presidencies, he has made the situation dramatically worse for himself and the nation by acting as though he has not a care in the world.
What’s that you say? There are as many as 100,000 unaccompanied minors (by latest estimates) pouring across the nation’s southern border? Hold that thought. I got five bucks riding on this combination shot:
You say the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, is under siege? Let me get back to you on that in a day or two. I have this big fundraiser to attend in San Francisco.
Sometimes, Obama takes the politically expedient “out.” Recognizing the unfavorable optics in a particular action — for example, plans to rebuild the White House bowling alley using “green” materials at the same time you are asking Congress to write a check for $3.8 billion — he will glance at his nearest high-level aide and frantically make the forefinger-across-the-neck gesture that signals “Kill! Abort!”
That’s probably what he should have done in the case of this curious photo from his meeting yesterday with Republican Governor Rick Perry.
Interestingly, this is the only photographic record of the closed roundtable discussion, from which photographers were banned.
For some reason, Obama, who carefully orchestrates which of the many (many!) images of him are released to the public, signed off on this one. Atlantic Wire speculates:
It’s not immediately clear what the context of this photo was — Is Perry sad? Uncomfortable? Telling a funny story? Happy, but trying to look serious? Hmm. Perhaps someone made a joke at Perry’s expense? Or maybe Perry just makes the Robert De Niro shrug face a lot for no reason.
New York Times photographer Doug Miles, who took the snapshot, tweets about it:
President Obama shares a light moment Mayor Mike Rawlings, with Gov. Rick Perry at the end of the table. pic.twitter.com/kE9GcPbjoF
— Doug Mills (@dougmillsnyt) July 9, 2014
But why isn’t Perry sharing a good belly laugh over it?
The Wire calls it a “ph0to for the ages.” Which ages they do not say.