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"What has it got in its pocketses?"
January 26, 2009 2:33 PM   Subscribe

A June 2008 photo first published in Time shows various items President Obama carries or has carried in his pockets for good luck. There's more than just a Blackberry in there: you might find an odd Hanuman, a Miraculous Medal, a khata, and much more.

(The first three sentences of this encyclopedia entry come to mind.)
posted by resurrexit (42 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I knew it!

He's a voodoo priest!
posted by chillmost at 2:42 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone can tell those aren't his hands.
posted by gman at 2:53 PM on January 26, 2009


OMG he moisturizes!!!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
posted by mudpuppie at 2:56 PM on January 26, 2009


Oh, I thought he was something of a magpie [non-colorist]. That, or he doesn't disdain of anyone's charms for luck and well-being and relies on them all.

Just as long as he doesn't get any Tannis charms, I'm fine with his collection.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:59 PM on January 26, 2009


At another campaign event, he reached into his pocket and out came some more charms: an eagle given to him by a Native American woman,

I'm hoping that he produced an eagle feather. I'm not sure how I'd feel about having a magician/beastmaster as president.
posted by rdr at 3:01 PM on January 26, 2009 [10 favorites]


So much for restoring respect for science.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:02 PM on January 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


So much for restoring respect for science.

You can be a good scientist and still know that there are many things that are not yet known, or may be unknowable.

Big, BIG fan of the Hanuman, even if it's the Thai version. Maybe his inclusion of Muslims, Hindus, and non-believers wasn't just lip service.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:22 PM on January 26, 2009


Yeah...this is only charming to the extent that you adore the guy. Can you imagine how the comments would run if this were Bush? Ugh.

/atheist, voted for Obama
posted by aquafortis at 3:22 PM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


even if it's the Thai version.

I was raised Hindu. I have nothing against Thai people, or their interpretation of Ramayana. Given the sensitivity around here, I'd hate to be called anti-Thai.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 3:28 PM on January 26, 2009


Things removed before the photo.....one hitter, guitar pick, visine.
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:35 PM on January 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


According to Karl Rove:
Bush was deeply changed by the Sept. 11 attacks, Rove said, and keeps the badge of a firefighter killed during the rescue effort in his pocket at all times as a constant reminder of his “guiding responsibility to keep the country safe.”
posted by Class Goat at 3:36 PM on January 26, 2009


Considering the number of knives, flashlights, balaclavas, gloves, and other odd things I carry in my pockets, I hope no one ever decides to judge me based on their contents, because I'm gonna come off as a cat burglar who is afraid of the dark.
posted by quin at 3:56 PM on January 26, 2009


So now we like HDR?

The only "good luck charms" I've got in my pocket are a knife and a 50 cent piece. The 50 cent piece is for practicing coin magic (NOT REALLY MAGIC). That said, I wonder where I can get a tiny monkey god because that rules.
posted by DU at 4:10 PM on January 26, 2009


That handful of talismans pleased me beyond measure. Hanuman, particularly.
posted by batmonkey at 4:18 PM on January 26, 2009


Oops. Um. Ramakien.

RTFA took longer than my excitement-spurred urge to post could bear. oops.
posted by batmonkey at 4:21 PM on January 26, 2009


Does anybody believe that this is somehow different from those lists of music he (or any other major political figure) has on his ipod? Or favorite movies? Or whatever? Completely stage managed. Except for McCain, I guess, unless he really needed the ABBA vote.

It's not what they actually carry in their pockets, it's what handlers decide would make a good impression if carried in pockets.
posted by Justinian at 4:27 PM on January 26, 2009


ah, see, that's why he didn't have to mention the buddhists. we're in his pocket.
posted by desjardins at 4:27 PM on January 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wow, now we know what Obama carries in his pockets. What might we learn next?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 4:38 PM on January 26, 2009


Justinian: even if that's true, then there's still something interesting that he 1) receives all those luck charms (maybe lots of traveling political figures do, maybe not) and 2) those are things that don't easily show on the outside (unless he's wearing more form-fitting clothes, then they'd look like odd bulges). So if the handlers think it makes for a good show, I'm impressed by the handlers. It's not an American flag pin on his lapel, it's a collection of items that were meaningful to someone. And did you see the size of that bracelet? He must have some very large pockets.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:45 PM on January 26, 2009


So much for restoring respect for science.

Because all scientists are radical atheists who never succumb to a bit of harmless superstition?

Yeah...this is only charming to the extent that you adore the guy. Can you imagine how the comments would run if this were Bush?

There might have been a bit of mockery, but unless he carried around a necklace made of the teeth of Iraqi babies, I doubt anyone would have gotten too upset.
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:51 PM on January 26, 2009


And did you see the size of that bracelet? He must have some very large pockets.

He wears it.

posted by oflinkey at 5:09 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't see the Time article, and that photo looked fake to me- the hands looked too thin, and older than I'd expect- but actually, on finding another photo of his hands, I guess it's real. Wow, that's a lot of trinkets. Ah well, I'm sure lots of other statesmen have lucky stuff that isn't so trinketty nor as easy to photograph- lucky breakfast, lucky gitch, morning rituals before a big day, who knows what else.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 5:26 PM on January 26, 2009


What I want to know is, does the White House have keys to the front door? How about the cabin at Camp David? If so, who carries them? What about the Vice-President's house? How about the Governor's Mansions?
posted by mattdidthat at 5:27 PM on January 26, 2009


As much as I dislike Bush, he would have gotten some small respect from me for carrying a figure of Hanuman (or Sun Wukong) in his pocket. I want one now.
posted by Hactar at 6:31 PM on January 26, 2009


I carry a turbah in my pocket as sort of a little fettish or bobble, maybe I should send one to Barack?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:50 PM on January 26, 2009


The Hanuman isn't just for luck, it's also a weapon.
posted by homunculus at 7:04 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not what they actually carry in their pockets, it's what handlers decide would make a good impression if carried in pockets.

Look, you can stop being cynical now. It's okay. Really.

I mean I doubt that four-armed monkey god was the product of a committee meeting.
posted by longsleeves at 7:14 PM on January 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


So much for restoring respect for science.

Oh, come on. Science-minded =/= cutting one's self off from whatever personal rituals give one comfort.

I've got just as much respect for science as the next person, but I've also had my own good-luck charms (an Agent Mulder action figure was one instance for a while). Did I imbue them with actual powers, or did I believe they had these powers? No. But did they help? Yes. Why? ...As a tangible reminder of intangible forces and personal potential.

Mnemonics are a well-respected device in the scientific community, and I see this as no different.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 PM on January 26, 2009


I carry around a few things for good luck. Do I believe they give me good luck? Nope. Though there has been a dearth of tiger attacks around me. On the other hand I seem to always be missing at least one sock out of every basket of laundry.

It'd be more accurate to say that I carry them for sentimental value and that might be Obama's case as well. Somebody thought that some item would give him good luck and he graciously accepted it. Each one of those items (or the items in my pocket) is a story, of course Obama's stories might be more interesting than mine.
posted by substrate at 7:38 PM on January 26, 2009


filthy light thief writes "Oh, I thought he was something of a magpie [non-colorist]. That, or he doesn't disdain of anyone's charms for luck and well-being and relies on them all."

I'm something of a magpie myself, flt. A few years back I was told by my dentist that I was clenching my teeth too much and it was hurting my gums, so I looked around for something play with and direct my energy away from my jaws. I found komboloi.

I'm the same age as Obama and have similarly aged kids, so I can attest that if your kids get antsy while sitting around waiting for the grownups to finish, letting them play with your pocket curios is a great way to distract them.
posted by Araucaria at 7:53 PM on January 26, 2009


Can you imagine how the comments would run if this were Bush?

Can you imagine how the comments would run if this were the crazy piss-smelling guy who lives on the park bench?
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:31 PM on January 26, 2009


Huh. My new president sure is a superstitious bastard.
posted by bardic at 8:51 PM on January 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Award for best title.
posted by krilli at 3:16 AM on January 27, 2009


I'm glad we didn't hear anything about Obama "carrying an idol of a four-armed monkey god in his pocket, his true god" during the election.
posted by Gnatcho at 5:20 AM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a pretty rational kinda guy. Atheistic and all. Used to wanna be a biologist. I've got my own shrine to Horrible Randomness Of Reality (Also known as "The Dollar in Fortuna's G-String") as a reminder that I have almost no control over anything. Ever.

I decided a while ago that the shrine could only be made of things found or given to me. Buying something for the Shrine Of Horrifyingly Random Chaos seemed like cheating.

It contains:

1- A Lucky penny. An honest to Gods lucky penny. Found face-up.

2- A pair of fixed dice given to me as a gift. They're black on white, a reversal of norm, and are symbols of randomness that have been fixed not to be. I liked that.

3- An itty-bitty brass Ganesha. I travel a lot and start many new projects, so I figured my Beginnings should at least be blessed. This addition was bit of cheat. I bought it years ago at the little Indian deli. I had no idea what it was but, hey, elephant-head! It was pretty much the only thing I took when moved away form home.

4- A Quarter with my brith year and a hole through Washington's head. That was just too good to miss.

5- An impossibly cute Maneki Neko (Lucky Cat!) that a friend got me after visiting Japan. I got it and sold my first piece the next day. So it gets a place. (Plus, it's origin stories are pretty neat and fit into the theme of dumb luck.)

6- A Green Fish, one of the Icons of Al-Khdir, The Green Man. He's got an interesting story. He's kind of half Saint/Prophet/Folk Figure depending on what flavor you take your Islam. He's kind of a smart-ass trickster and has some great stories in the "Old Zen Master" vein. According to one story, he's Alexander The Great's lazy brother who does nothing but play flute, drink wine, and not conquer the world. When Alexander took him on as his camp cook out of pity. While wondering around the Lands Of Eternal Darkness (trying to find Hyperborea, natch).the camp stops to rest. Al-Khdir goes to the river to prepare some salted fish. He places the fish in the water and they instantly spring to fish and begin to chase their tails. Realizing what this means, he quickly eats the fish, takes leave of his brother and begins to wander the world. Blind Luck to Immortality Vs. Striving Conquering to Immortality.

The Shrine reminds me about the importance of Luck and Lateral Thinking and the Arbitrary Randomness of existence. It's not an exactly nice shrine, but I like it.


Also, if I was President Of The Free World I would carry any rabbit's foot, 4-leaf clover, four-armed monkey god or golden idol I could find. You gotta cover your bases.
posted by The Whelk at 6:55 AM on January 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, I accidentally read the Free Republic comments under that Miraculous Metal link. They somehow manage to connect a Virgin Mary icon to Barack being a Muslim. It's like watching snakes mate. You can't un-see it and are forever changed.
posted by The Whelk at 7:21 AM on January 27, 2009


I just did the same thing, Whelk. Jeebers.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:05 AM on January 27, 2009


Also, I accidentally read the Free Republic comments under that Miraculous Metal link. They somehow manage to connect a Virgin Mary icon to Barack being a Muslim.

Let me guess: somehow the Freemasons were involved.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:18 AM on January 27, 2009


What an odd thing to learn about Obama. It's sweet and charming, but just a bit creepy. One good luck charm, I'd understand, but five? OTOH it's great that he's so diverse in his selection of icons. I particularly like that he carries around stuff random people give him. Preferably fewer charms made out of parts of endangered species.
posted by Nelson at 9:49 AM on January 27, 2009


Joe Beese: Do try to get a grip on the distinction between personal practice and public policy. As long as he lets the experts tell the truth about science that matters, I don't give a rip if he bows down to a velvet Elvis painting at 2:37 AM every day of his life.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:25 AM on January 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone can tell those aren't his hands.

Still, I'm with the a-little-creepy crowd. Is it real? Is it for an audience? You never can tell with politicoes.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:20 PM on January 27, 2009


Angry monkey defends monkey temple
posted by homunculus at 9:08 AM on January 31, 2009


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