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

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pausing Time

Hadley Jennings

As I sit down on the couch the evening of August 31, 2010 and flip through the channels on the television, I see the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, giving a speech on ending the war in Iraq. Besides seeing the President at his desk, I see many family photographs on the tables behind his main desk. These photographs range from an aged wedding photograph of the President himself and Michelle Obama to pictures of his two young girls. This to me shows that he is a family man, or he is trying to make himself look as if he is a family man to the public eye. None of us know for sure if he is the ideal family man or not, but we know that he had many photographs of his family behind him that night. If he is the ideal family man and those photographs were put there not for the public eye alone, it would show that he is a very family oriented man considering the number of family photographs that were behind him. It would also show that he loves his wife and holds the day of their marriage very close to his heart, along with showing the love he has for her.
As I dial in my gaze on the setting of the Oval Office, I notice the American flag. The American flag in the Oval office shows to me, along with the millions of others watching that night, that President Obama has a lot of patriotism. Though many would debate that the flag has to stay in the Oval Office, the President ultimately decides what he puts in his personal office. He chose to leave the flag at the well-know spot behind his desk, showing that he has pride in his country and respects the former presidents that decided to leave the American flag behind that very same desk. Since I am already on the topic of American pride and patriotism, I will also mention the United States seal. The United States seal in itself shows patriotism beyond words, so I will leave that to you, the reader, to ponder that iconic image.

Now that you have put some thought into this post, I might as well move on and not give your brain a cramp or anything drastic. As I look at the President himself, I notice the American flag lapel on his left side or to us viewers to the right. That to me shows that he is proud to wear the United States flag lapel and is patriotic. President Obama was also very patriotic wearing the colors of the United States with his red tie.

As I became thirsty during the speech, I paused the television and go get a can of Sprite. When I returned to the paused television, I notice how solemn President Obama looked at his desk with the same folded hands on desk posture. I start to think to myself, ‘Where has the fiery campaign man we saw during his election gone’. Is he bored in the office? Stressed? Tired? What is going through his mind to make him look so solemn during his speech? He is in front of millions of Americans on live television, so why would he appear so bored. I look at his facial features and begin to think how non-enthusiastic he looks. I don't know if anyone else paused their television during the speech or noticed the same thing, but it definitely caught my attention.

After looking at the paused television for so long, I pressed play and watched the end of the speech. When all is said and done I start to think back to the words that he said, but most importantly the image of the Oval Office that night. I think about how the President appeared, how he looked in my eyes, and what he was trying to portray to the millions of Americans. I challenge you to look back at a paused picture of President Obama that night and think about the scene and how he appears to you, has your image in your head changed to you after reading this or has it simply been words on a page?


  1. Well written and at an interesting angle as you made it far more personal than most other writers. As a result you were able to speak more in depth about the emotions the imagery brought out, you were a bit limited in your discussion of the actual images, but far from badly so. I'm not sure if the President's body language is part of the assignment. It is an interesting subject, but I think it is on the gray areas on the edge of the subject.