52 photos of Obama, 52
August 2, 2013 5:57 PM   Subscribe

The President turns 52 on Sunday, and the White House has compiled 52 photos to celebrate (slideshow). There's a good combination of serious, familial, and funny. My favourite: Obama and gymnast McKayla Maroney not being impressed.
posted by anothermug (80 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
#7, with the kid in the spiderman costume, is such a great shot; I'm surprised I've never seen it before.
posted by yoink at 6:09 PM on August 2, 2013


This slideshow is useless without pics of 100 duck-sized horses or 1 horse-sized duck. But seriously, has there ever been a person better with kids than this guy?
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:10 PM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can't stand Obama, but I do like a lot of these photos. I also find it interesting that in probably more than half of them the real interest is what's being done with the hands in the photo (his or others). That's probably true of many photographs, but I think the hands are the strongest element in these, for sure.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:10 PM on August 2, 2013


But seriously, has there ever been a person better with kids than this guy?

I'm gonna go with Mr. Rogers.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:11 PM on August 2, 2013 [29 favorites]


"But seriously, has there ever been a person better with kids than this?"

He is the dad-est of all possible dads!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:13 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


#15, GMO or Non-GMO corn?
posted by NakedShorted at 6:16 PM on August 2, 2013


#20, President Obama recovers the Holy Grail.
posted by FJT at 6:16 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh Barack, you know I can't stay mad at you.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:17 PM on August 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


This is the best Obama photo ever, which is not in the slideshow.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:21 PM on August 2, 2013 [45 favorites]


Lots of credit to Pete Souza. What a cool job, and what a good job he does at it.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:23 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


I love all the pictures with his kids. You can tell that the president really enjoys being their dad.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:24 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, I want to be president. Other than the basketball I think I'd be really good at it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:34 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee, you're absolutely right. When all is said and done, the image of a young black child feeling that the hair OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES feels like his own has got to be one of the most powerful, wonderful, subversive symbols in this history of this damn country.
posted by ORthey at 6:38 PM on August 2, 2013 [30 favorites]


52
posted by invitapriore at 6:41 PM on August 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


the great thing about the spiderman photo (i mean one great thing) is that Obama is clearly pretending to be caught in a web, with his hands splayed out and all
posted by angrycat at 6:43 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dude, where was the Secret Service while the president battled spiderman? WTF do my tax dollars go to?!!?
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:47 PM on August 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


Pete Souza is great, but that second photo reminds me of how on Inauguration Day he doubled back, camera raised, just seconds too late to adequately capture that once-in-a-lifetime image of Obama wistfully overlooking his last inaugural crowd. That must have really hurt. I suppose he'll have to settle for just one history-defining candid.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:48 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


#16
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 6:49 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's shockingly obvious in #16 that W jut let rip a huge, huge fart. That's the proudest look you'll ever see on someone's face.
posted by ORthey at 7:11 PM on August 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pete did get it. Look at frame #2 of the slide show. He may not have shot the image but a member of his team did and that's all that matters.
posted by photoslob at 7:12 PM on August 2, 2013


There are plenty of photos of Obama on the inaugural stand and walking away, but Souza was the only photographer in a position to capture not just Obama, but his own view of the millions thronged on the Mall. Something similar to this, but more intimate, from a much better vantage point, and far weightier with a sense of history.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:21 PM on August 2, 2013


I am older than the President of the United States.

Ready to die, now.
posted by SPrintF at 7:26 PM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]



But seriously, has there ever been a person better with kids than this guy?

I love, love, love pictures of him holding babies. It is so obvious how much he adores them.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:28 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really love this guy on a personal level, and these photos reinforce that. Shame about the whole "power corrupts" thing, though I doubt hardly anyone in his position would be immune to its self-justifying sway.
posted by planetesimal at 7:31 PM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


the great thing about the spiderman photo (i mean one great thing) is that Obama is clearly pretending to be caught in a web, with his hands splayed out and all

The great thing about that photo is that the caption takes pains to point out that he is pretending to be caught in a web. I'm super glad they made it clear because for a moment I was really concerned that the President was actually caught in an actual web so the caption eased my mind a great deal.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:33 PM on August 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Dammit, these photos are making me like him again.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:39 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Obama and gymnast McKayla Maroney not being impressed.

The slideshow says the pic was Obama's suggestion. So my question is how does Obama know about weird current Internet memes? My guess is that one of his daughters said something. Maybe he is on facebook with them?
posted by dgaicun at 8:00 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I voted for this guy twice in the hopes that terrible Bush era foreign policies would at least be reigned in under his administration. I think so far, the losses have far outweighed the gains.

I wouldn't go as far as to call it a personality cult, but it's weird to see people who identify as pacifists forget all the misery Obama has wrought in the world when they see him holding a baby.
posted by triceryclops at 8:01 PM on August 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


Best Obama photo is the original terrorist fist jab photo. Seriously, its one of the most romantic photos I've ever seen. The look on Michelle's face is just 100% "I just realized that the person I love is going to be the President of the United States." And Barack is so zoned in on her. If those are not the faces of two people completely in love who are about to go home and respect fuck each other's brains out then I don't know what.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:04 PM on August 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


And the crazy long lens separation between them and the world on this enormous stage and in this huge moment? Really great photo.
posted by nathancaswell at 8:08 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't remember any other president in my lifetime (that goes back to Eisenhower) who publicized or publicly celebrated his own birthday.

I think it says something about Obama that he is doing so.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:14 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


So my question is how does Obama know about weird current Internet memes?

The guy's a self-confessed geek who knows about Star Trek, Mythbusters, and Reddit. I'm sure Internet memes are also on his radar.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:21 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


So my question is how does Obama know about weird current Internet memes?

Presumably the same way you do. He reads stuff on the internet.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:25 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now, I'm not a flat-out supporter of everything Obama does, and I genuinely don't know if on many of those matters anyone else would have done differently, given the constraints of the office itself, but...

I have to admit -- he certainly handles that impossible office very well, which is a testament to him as a person, which I can only respect.

Happy birthday, sir.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:28 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Best Obama photo is the original terrorist fist jab photo. Seriously, its one of the most romantic photos I've ever seen

This is the best Obama romance photo, although at least partly because they are loving Chicago as well as each other in the photo. Whenever they do something particularly Chicagoan, like say obie-gynie or tell people not to put ketchup on hot dogs or make fun of DC shutting down for snow, my brain pretty much completely shuts down to squee about how awesomely Chicago they are. So, this is the best one. (Seriously it's a really good photo though.)

I ... am slightly embarrassed I have so many favorite Obama photos.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:32 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's weird to see people who identify as pacifists forget all the misery Obama has wrought in the world when they see him holding a baby.

Here's the thing, for me: when Obama was elected, both times but especially the 2nd time, I'd like to believe that voters decided something. I'd like to believe that people decided that warts and all, they want a leader who is a really good fucking person and not just a slick politician. You refer to the misery he's caused, but you don't mention the fundamental way Obama has changed the presidency. You can be black now. You can be kind now. You can support gay marriage now. You can make health care an actual priority now. You can start talking about race in America now.

That's what comes to mind when I see Obama holding babies, but maybe that's just me. It's not that it makes me forget what I dislike about him, it's that it helps me remember why I love that we have a person like Barack Obama as our president, and all that entails.
posted by ORthey at 8:42 PM on August 2, 2013 [39 favorites]


obie-gynie

Wait, nobody else says that? I need get out more.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:42 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't remember any other president in my lifetime (that goes back to Eisenhower) who publicized or publicly celebrated his own birthday.

I think it says something about Obama that he is doing so.


Hershey, Pennsylvania celebrates Dwight D. Eisenhower's Birthday. Includes a performance by the Ringling Brothers Circus.

John F. Kennedy had a birthday party at Madison Square Garden.

Clinton Celebrates Birthday With Star-Studded Gala
posted by oneirodynia at 8:44 PM on August 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Although I am STILL upset that the President of the United States is younger than I am, I continue to approve of his existence. And of his daughters, who are cuter than beyond belief.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:03 PM on August 2, 2013


Oh, and Bush Gets High-Flying Birthday Party.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:05 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's weird to see people who identify as pacifists forget all the misery Obama has wrought in the world when they see him holding a baby.

His administration is more than just him. It's every senator and governor and minister elected under him as well. The guy's one dude - one powerful dude - and it would be folly to attribute all the actions of his administration to him personally.

Also the photos of him with babies and kids are freaking adorable.
posted by Jilder at 9:14 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also the photos of him with babies and kids are freaking adorable.

George Bush with baby
posted by anothermug at 9:18 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a thought experiment, try 'shopping Mitt Romney into those images.

Aaaand relax. The beer's in pod 3. Thanks for taking part.
posted by Devonian at 9:19 PM on August 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I love this guy. He isn't perfect, but he is a good man and a good President. The photos show the caring and funny person he is. He wears the burdens of his dauntingly hard job with grace and class.
posted by bearwife at 9:20 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Thing is, I don't know him as a person at all. Not any more than I know anyone on television or in magazines as a person.
posted by sendai sleep master at 9:38 PM on August 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Where some of these photos taken with a phone? (12, 13, 27, ...)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:42 PM on August 2, 2013


Well, probably most of us here have seen a fair amount of his speeches and other live documents He's an actor, for sure, but with as much screen time available it's not difficult to get a sense of the Obamas' good, clear-thinking spirits. It just makes it harder to reconcile the natural pull we have to apotheosis with the worse bits.
posted by planetesimal at 9:47 PM on August 2, 2013


Here's the thing, for me: when Obama was elected, both times but especially the 2nd time, I'd like to believe that voters decided something. I'd like to believe that people decided that warts and all, they want a leader who is a really good fucking person and not just a slick politician. You refer to the misery he's caused, but you don't mention the fundamental way Obama has changed the presidency. You can be black now. You can be kind now. You can support gay marriage now. You can make health care an actual priority now. You can start talking about race in America now.

I feel what you're saying.

I vote almost entirely on the basis of foreign policy, because the rest of the world doesn't have a choice in the matter. I will always vote for the guy who is least likely to bomb innocent people, and I'm disappointed to see that civilian casualties happen on a depressingly regular basis on his watch.

I love that the person in that office can now safely advocate on behalf of gay people and the uninsured, but it wasn't a particularly large political risk for him to do so either. If Biden's Will and Grace comments didnt go over so well on Meet the Press, it wouldn't have happened. It wasn't his choice to accept gay people, it was our choice to coerce him into doing that.

I'd apologize for being such a cynic, but when people are dying and being tortured, I think the cynicism is justified.
posted by triceryclops at 10:03 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


triceryclops, what sounds cynical to me is not believing Obama has been 100% for gay marriage (just to pick a representative example) since he was in diapers. He engages in political maneuvering and opportunism for sure, but in a lot of cases reflects his actual beliefs, and when those two things line up, it ain't a bad deal. I kept hearing "Obama did that for political gain" and I kept thinking, "if only more presidents would do things like increase the legality of love for political gain." If that's naive of me, then so be it.

Voting for the presidency based on foreign policy doesn't seem to mean much in a 2-party system. When you have to choose between a bigot (because let's be honest, how many GOP politicians aren't?) and a flawed but good person like Obama, it just doesn't seem like much of a choice. I don't mean to put the man on a pedestal, because to be honest he's done some infuriating things, and yeah, too many innocents are still dying. But when it comes down to it, he's done a lot of good fucking things. For eight years nothing good happened, and it's nice to see some forward progress.
posted by ORthey at 10:15 PM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't think of any other instance of a President and First Lady who so obviously seem to really dig each other.
posted by rocket88 at 10:28 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


#53
posted by mullingitover at 10:28 PM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm disappointed to see that civilian casualties happen on a depressingly regular basis on his watch.

Pretty much every single year since the founding of the US, there has been some sort of military operation or intervention. Even if Gandhi were voted to head the US, I bet we would have some sort of military operation before his first year was over.
posted by FJT at 11:36 PM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm disappointed to see that civilian casualties happen on a depressingly regular basis on his watch.

Actually, you said the losses under Obama outweigh the gains, and if that was about civilian casualties, that's insane. Drones somehow count for more than everyone killed due to the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent civil war. Of course it's obvious why; drones get ink because of the breathless "killer robot" angle, and all these people who supposedly too cynical to believe what they read in the press don't bother questioning the context or framing.

It's not "cynical" when you somehow think Obama's policies have led to more civilian deaths than Bush's. It's being completely uncritical about the hype.
posted by spaltavian at 12:03 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


[There are many ways to discuss these photographs in terms of image and public perception or private versus public or just plain photography, but let's not repeat the specific issues debates that we've had in hundreds and hundreds of past discussions here. There are several open threads for anyone who wants to participate in a discussion on drones, human rights, whistleblowers, war, gay marriage, etc.]
posted by taz at 12:04 AM on August 3, 2013


Getting back on track, I have to say, I can't recall seeing a president being so candid with the voting populace than I saw in the whole "I'm not impressed" shoot with Maroney and the other olympians. I'll give him that.
posted by chemoboy at 12:13 AM on August 3, 2013


This is one that was always one my favorites...just so candid
posted by ShawnString at 4:03 AM on August 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


But there will always be questions about Obama.

Because, you know, there are always questions.

You know, because he has to be hiding something.

You know what I mean?

I am just asking questions here.
posted by lampshade at 5:49 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I approve of some things Obama has done, and do not approve of some other things. But that's still a vast improvement from his predecessor. The only thing I approved of W doing in 8 years was lessening the amount of non-Daylight Savings Time we have.

Could be worse, you guys. Obama wasn't lollipops and rainbows the way we all expected, but as someone else pointed out, power corrupts.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:21 AM on August 3, 2013


Obama? Awwwwbama is more like!

Is it stupid that some of these, like Eyebrows Mcgee's, get me a bit teary? Cuz they do. I know I'm being manipulated by images and have no notion of the man's actual character, but damn, the photos make him seem so likeable.
posted by windykites at 8:09 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You are committing a grave error if you are buying these photos as anything other than they are - carefully staged photos intended to convey a specific impression of who Mr. Obama is and what he stands for.

Trying to read actual information about Mr. Obama's character from these photos is literally just as useful as trying to decide whether Ralph Fiennes is a bad person from seeing pictures of him as Voldemort.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


You are committing a grave error if you are buying these photos as anything other than they are - carefully staged photos intended to convey a specific impression of who Mr. Obama is and what he stands for.

Trying to read actual information about Mr. Obama's character from these photos is literally just as useful as trying to decide whether Ralph Fiennes is a bad person from seeing pictures of him as Voldemort.


But, But I wanna have a beer with him...
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:01 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, you said the losses under Obama outweigh the gains, and if that was about civilian casualties, that's insane. Drones somehow count for more than everyone killed due to the invasion of Iraq and the subsequent civil war. Of course it's obvious why; drones get ink because of the breathless "killer robot" angle, and all these people who supposedly too cynical to believe what they read in the press don't bother questioning the context or framing.

It's not "cynical" when you somehow think Obama's policies have led to more civilian deaths than Bush's. It's being completely uncritical about the hype.


Jesus tap-dancing Christ.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:03 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like this candid moment between Obama and his best friend.
posted by homunculus at 10:02 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like this candid moment between Obama and his best friend.
posted by carmicha at 10:48 AM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


But, But I wanna have a beer with him...

Ralph Fiennes or Voldemort?
posted by IndigoJones at 11:42 AM on August 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Beer
Count Laszlo de Almásy
Justin Quayle

Maybe Beer
Charles Van Doren
Lenny Nero

No Beer
Lord Voldemort
Amon Goeth
Spider
Francis Dolarhyde
posted by nathancaswell at 12:40 PM on August 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


...carefully staged photos...

Like so?
posted by kaibutsu at 12:48 PM on August 3, 2013


A picture is worth a thousand LIES
posted by windykites at 1:52 PM on August 3, 2013


has there ever been a person better with kids than this guy?

#5, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron visit with students while touring Enniskillen Primary School: Obama's crouching down and engaged with the kids at their eye level; Cameron's awkwardly leaning in and observing from above.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:24 PM on August 3, 2013


Aside from the family shots with outgoing staffers, it's kind of silly to call these "staged". He can be both a hawkish, power consolidating autocratic killer and a genuinely friendly dude. People, multitudes, et cetera.
posted by planetesimal at 3:58 PM on August 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


BHO and Old Joe, crafty/handsome duo.
posted by psoas at 4:13 PM on August 3, 2013


[Folks, the edit window is for typos, and also flagging and moving on makes everything simpler for everyone. ]
posted by restless_nomad at 4:18 PM on August 3, 2013


My favorite.
posted by klue at 7:52 PM on August 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why wouldn't the photos reflect Obama's real personality? It's a lot of work to create multiple personalities for different situations. What's naive is thinking that American politics is some kind of function of individual personalities. For better or worse Obama's personality is basically irrelevant (except for the symbolic aspect).
posted by leopard at 8:28 PM on August 3, 2013


Do sitting presidents often make commencement speeches? I work in graduation photography and have seen Bill Clinton do one at a high school, but that was well after he was done with the White House. I'm sincerely curious, because I'd think that a current president, while well versed in making speeches, would be seen as too busy to stop to make a commencement speech. But maybe I just answered my own question; presidents are in the business of speechifying, right?

*No disrespect to Obama, these were some great photos. Love the guy.
posted by malapropist at 10:54 PM on August 3, 2013


I don't remember any other president in my lifetime (that goes back to Eisenhower) who publicized or publicly celebrated his own birthday.

I think it says something about Obama that he is doing so.


You're right. Reagan's White House photographer (same guy, btw) never put a few pictures up on the White House Flickr stream in honor of his birthday. Look at Obama eating those crackers like he owns the place.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:50 PM on August 4, 2013


You are committing a grave error if you are buying these photos as anything other than they are - carefully staged photos intended to convey a specific impression of who Mr. Obama is and what he stands for.

Nobody can peer into anyone else's head. I mean, how do we know anyone is actually who they are, especially online? Maybe you're not actually a liberal that is politically and morally against the president to the point that you must make an obvious and subversive comment in the most anodyne Of Obama posts?
posted by FJT at 8:21 PM on August 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


...But actually a giant chicken!
posted by FJT at 8:29 PM on August 4, 2013


My god is he good at being human.
posted by stormpooper at 7:05 AM on August 5, 2013


Do sitting presidents often make commencement speeches?

My recollection is that all sitting presidents, at least for the past few decades, have done one or two commencement speeches each year. (Haven't seen a list or anything, but it goes back at least to Hoover.)
posted by psoas at 9:07 AM on August 5, 2013


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