A Pointless Exercise

So over at Instapundit Glenn Renyolds has posted a picture from the White House Flickr page and asks readers to ‘Analyze the body language. From the White House Flickr page.

Here’s the photo:
Glenn Reynolds later followed up with an update to his post…

UPDATE: No, I don’t think Obama’s facial expression is just a fluke of when the shutter went off. His eyes aren’t closed, as some with poor displays seem to think. Here’s a detail from the frame:

And this enlargement of the photo.

The first thing that struck me about this is that this exercise is one of pure futility and pointlessness. Without the context of the situation you cannot analyze the body language. All you can do is project your on preconceptions into the picture. We don’t know what Biden is saying to Obama and knowing that bit of information is critical to having any understanding of the image.

Biden has a reputation for being a blabber-mouth and never knowing when to stop. Could be all Obama is reacting to is a never ending monolog. Biden could be flubbing or telling a rather dreadful joke. Biden could be suggesting white people and black people are equals. The two men could be discussing basketball. It could be anything going on in that picture.

The next thing I notice was how in very typical style, Glenn Reynolds didn’t post his own analysis of the picture. A very sly movie to keep his own name out of harm’s way. Anyone who wants to consider themselves in league with Instapundit can assume that their analysis matches up with Glenn’s, however Glenn has total deniability from any unseemly analysis because he never posted his own stand. (I do believe that he does indeed have a stand and that it is a calculated decision on his point not to post it.)


7 thoughts on “A Pointless Exercise”

  1. e⋅piph⋅a⋅ny

    3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

    Aha! Now it all makes sense.

    For some time I have wondered why Obama picked Biden for his V.P. I mean Biden? That boob? What the heck was Obama thinking? And since that time Biden has lived down to my expectations.

    So what was Obama thinking? The Obama ‘looking down his nose’ photograph and the recent controversy over Reid’s ‘no negro dialect’ comments now make it all clear to me. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100109/ap_on_el_se/us_obama_reid

    The Reid comments reminded me of the original Biden blunder regarding Obama… http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/01/31/biden.obama/

    I can only imagine how much what Biden said in 2007 irritated Obama. So perhaps Obama selected Biden because Obama remembered what V.P. John Nance Garner said of the Vice Presidency, “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” Perhaps giving the V.P. slot to Biden was Obama’s revenge!

    Going from U.S. Senator to V.P. as Biden did, is actually a step down in real power. The true value of the Vice Presidency is as a stepping stone to becoming President. So If my Obama Revenge Theory is correct, then if and when Biden strikes out again to run for President Obama will refuse to endorse or otherwise support Biden. Hmm.

    1. 1) Why bring Andrew Sullivan into it? I didn’t mention him or his opinion. This was my opinion no one else’s.
      2) I still do not see Glenn Reynolds analysis of the body language. (the very action he requested that started this off.) He has again posted other people’s opinions and followed up with a characteristic ‘yeah’.
      3) Mild critique doesn’t prove non-partisianship.

      1. 2)

        “STILL MORE: Andrew Sullivan says that commenting on photos from the White House Flickr feed is racist, or something. Well, that’s the last refuge of the Obama fans these days, isn’t it? But Biden’s role here isn’t as a white man. Obama’s showing contempt — or so it seems to me — for the guy he picked as his running mate. And, of course, Andrew’s still mad at me for calling him a bad writer.”

        1. Okay, he did finally make an analysis — contempt. (No surprise there I suspected it’s what Glenn was thinking all along.) But without context it totally pointless. Even if it is contempt it could be contempt about a basketball prediction. And it may not even be contempt as people are bad at judging facial expression from a still vs a moving image as documented here. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223215119.htm
          So as I titled it originally — a pointless exercise.

  2. Or Obama could be exhausted or it could have been caught before or after a blink (the comment about the shutter, notwithstanding). His leg position is very relaxed and he is obviously leaning against the cabinet behind him, probably during a social gathering – I assume based on the chilling wine bottles in the left of the frame. Crossed legs and arms are generally considered defensive. Was Biden attacking Obama? On the other hand, the directionality of the crossed legs would indicate attentiveness to the speaker on that side. (Or, if you remember the scene from “Clueless”, is it a sex invite?)

    I agree with you – without the context, this IS a pointless, meaningless exercise.

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