NYT Sees ‘Obama’s Face’ Everywhere, and is Loving it

-By Warner Todd Huston

In another nearly orgasmic tribute to The One, in its Arts section The New York Times published a May 30 story buoyantly jubilant over the fact that Obama’s face “rules the web.” The story is in glee over how the Obammessiah’s portrait fills the web and that some folks are even making a bit of cash off the deal.

To my mind, though, the amusing thing about the piece is that, if read closely, it appears that only schlocky Obama art can bring any sales as any serious artistic efforts are going unsold. I don’t know what that says about Obama art aficionados, but there you have it. Obama schlock rules.

The first Obamanist cum arteeste the piece reveals to us is one Mimi Torchia Boothby of Seattle who was so inspired by The One that she painted a “contemplative, sun-splashed portrait” of Obama that she is now selling on the web. And she was excited that a whole 24 takers was dredged up.

Sadly, there is no sense of proportion about this whole phenomenon and there just is no real effort to place this phenomenon in any historical perspective. Obama is ranked with John F. Kennedy in the excitement for his portrait but, there is no sense that the Times understands that Kennedy’s portrait didn’t become ubiquitous until his assassination. Yes there were many portraits of him just after he got elected, but his assassination spurred that displaying of his image a lot more than his mere election. On the other hand, Obama’s portrait is everywhere despite his relative lack of accomplishment as president.

There is no discussion of other presidents that enjoyed popularity in portraiture. George Washington was hugely popular for generations of Americans including those first American voters of the late 1700s. Just about every American had a portrait of Washington somewhere. Abraham Lincoln was also everywhere in his day and after and was one of the most photographed president’s of his era and on into the next. Teddy Roosevelt was the people’s president and found great popularity as a subject of portraits. Original images of Teddy are still easy to find on ebay or in antique stores. In his turn, Franklin Roosevelt’s image became popular everywhere, as well. But does the Times talk of any of this? Nope.

Finally, one might think that a thoughtful piece on the widespread appearance of Obama’s portrait might include some words of caution, some perspective, or some effort to look deeper into the matter. But, I guess that is far too introspective for the Times, sadly. No effort was made to make this piece a serious treatment of the matter.

What does it say, for instance, about people so taken by this man even though he has yet to actually achieve any major effort (shy of getting elected, no mean feat, to be sure), has not faced any significant challenge or emergency, and has yet to be proven to have succeeded in his goals? And why the constantly recurring communist propaganda themes in which style many of these images are created? Or the oddity of the religious connotations that seems so common. Why aren’t any of these disturbing ideas discussed more deeply.

But, let’s not worry about reality, shall we? Unfortunately, it’s all about slavish sycophancy for The One as opposed to any serious treatment of the subject.


Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as newsbusters.org, RedState.com, Human Events Magazine, AmericanDailyReview.com, townhall.com, New Media Journal, Men’s News Daily and the New Media Alliance among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events and is currently the co-host of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Conservatism” heard on BlogTalkRadio. He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book “Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture” which can be purchased on amazon.com. He is also the owner and operator of publiusforum.com. Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions : EMAIL Warner Todd Huston

Fair Use: This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research, educational, or satirical purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site/blog for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001