The student blog for Drake University first year seminar entitled Visual Politics

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Oval Office

         On August 31, 2010, President Obama delivered a speech about the end of the combat missions in Iraq.  He delivered this speech in his beautifully designed Oval Office, with every object on or around the President with significance.  These little but powerful objects influence the American public almost as much as the speech does.  Seemingly minor objects can drastically change an individual’s opinion on the speech they are hearing, and their opinion about the President.

         The most visual and important object is President Obama.  He is clean-shaven, has his hair perfectly trimmed, and even has his eyebrows straight and neat.  It is proven that individuals are attracted to symmetry; thus, the President needs to have every aspect of his body shown on camera perfect.  President Obama’s navy blue jacket, red tie, and white shirt portray patriotism to the United States; the U.S. flag does not hurt either.  His arms in front of his body with his fingers intertwined, gives a warm feeling to the viewers; it is as if he is talking to them from across the table. President Obama does an excellent job, in giving off a very warm and patriotic feeling to the public.

         Another object used are the photographs behind the President.  There is a picture of his wedding, his smiling kids in cute outfits, and a family portrait. All of these photographs symbolize two things, the American Dream, and how President Obama is a person too. 

          Symbols used for decades are the two flags standing tall behind President Obama.  One of course is the American Flag; the other is the Seal of the United States.  The American Flag depicting patriotism, and the American People as a whole.  While, the Seal of the United States with the saying E Pluribus Unum (Out of many one), represent the entire population of the United States backing up the President in his decision to end the combat mission. 

         The speech on August 31 was beautifully written and read by President Obama.  But even more beautiful was the way the Oval Office was organized and configured.   

- Jake Wasserman


  1. I view his hands in front on his desk as something quite differnt. I, as the viewer, feel as if he is bored with what he is saying. I am not saying he was bored, but he came across to me as bored, stressed, worried, or
    any other things the president can feel. The hands on the desk remind me somewhat of Talladega Nights, "What so I do with my hands." I see where you are coming from and I respect that, but I just got a different feel. :) Hadley

  2. I'm not sure the pictures of President Obama and his family represent the American Dream. The American Dream is to own a house, there are millions of families all over the United States that rent property.
    Kelli Riesberg