It’s not the most compelling photojournalism in history. But it is clear, and as pointed as a pin.
Obama and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt extend their arms, hands on the cellphone, to take the self-portrait. British PM David Cameron leans in. They’re as bubbly as school kids ordering a happy meal.
Why would a president take a selfie at a memorial for Mandela? Because it wasn’t about Mandela.
It was about Barack.
And isn’t it always about Barack?
Earlier, Obama sauntered through the crowd, shaking hands, waving, welcoming the love bath they gave him. He wasn’t mourning as much as he was campaigning for adoration, a man determined to receive his due.
And then came the presidential selfie.
It fits into a pattern, of almost uncontrollable presidential selfieism.
A few days ago, when Mandela passed away at 95, Obama’s media managers tweeted a photograph. You’d think he’d tweet a photograph of Mandela. But it wasn’t of Mandela.
It was of Obama in Mandela’s former prison cell, the president having gone to the prison because he couldn’t get that photo op he wanted with the ailing South African during Obama’s $100 million African vacation.
Obama as Mandela.
And then there was Obama as Rosa Parks.
To commemorate Parks, who 58 years ago this month defied racists who wanted black people to sit in the back of the bus, Obama released another tweet.
Not of Rosa Parks. But of Obama, sitting on the bus by himself, Obama Rosa.
“In a single moment 58 years ago today, Rosa Parks helped change this country,” said the presidential tweet.
Yet there was Obama on the bus alone. It’s all about Barack.
His social media managers should be sent to Guantanamo for feeding this electronic cult of personality.