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Jul 17, 2008

Obama's Not Human

Obama Basketball

From Newsweek's Stumper blog, titled: "Convenient Metaphor of the Day: No Sweat," we're offered this image with these snippets (in chronological order):

1.  Obama is a "workoutaholic."

2.  The candidate made a strong bid this week to become "Self-Flagellator-in-Chief" for what blogger Andrew Romero describes as working out too much.

3. Obama displays "a distinct lack of visible sweat."

Showing Obama shooting alone (snapped by Romero himself the morning of the day Obama played bball twice at his friend's place and also worked out at a downtown gym) paints a supposedly masochistic Obama as that much more obsessive.  (Is it possible the shooting around at his friend's is as much or more a social thing and a stress reliever, however, as opposed to a second "work out.")

This sweating allegation is more poisonous, though.  Through another reporter, Romero claims that Obama doesn't seem to sweat during a campaign day.  Romero further relates how campaign photographers supposedly told the same source Obama didn't sweat either after shooting baskets with the University of North Carolina team earlier this year.

Another toxic element here is the language employed, specifically referring to Obama as "a gym rat."  I ended up at the Newsweek post via Drudge, by the way, who also linked to another article specifically referring to Obama as "a gym rat."  (Curiously, that term got attached to this same story here at TIME.)  (Yes rats, but let's not go here again.)

Look, what we're dealing with is a coded form of racism.  The reference to physical compulsivity, the supposed strange absence of perspiration and the rodent analogy all create a subtle intimation of the hoop-shooting Obama as not just your "all he can do is play bball" black jock, but a man who is somehow less human and more animal.  (Looking up the term "animalism" at The Free Dictionary, you get the following definition: 1. Enjoyment of vigorous health and physical drives; 2. Indifference to all but the physical appetites;  3. The doctrine that humans are merely animals with no spiritual nature.)

What Romano offers us here is his own visual evidence of this thesis.  It's Obama as specimen, off the ground, clearly exerting effort, but shiny and supposedly perspiration free.

(slightly revised 9/1/08snapshot: Andrew Romano, Newsweek)


He's left handed. If he wasn't human he'd be doing the lay-up with his non-favored hand, just as gracefully. Or, dunking.

In the election cycle with the somewhat respectable older Lord Bush (HW), Clinton (the intern-humping one), and good old Ross Perot all three of the candidates were left handed.

If you haven't seen the latest jib-jab production, "Campainin'"(?), you'll appreciate how Obama is portrayed there.

Of course he doesn't sweat. He doesn't carry a teaspoon of extra weight. There's nothing to sweat out!

The self-discipline is scarey, however.

And I'll bet the image is posed.

Of course he doesn't sweat. He doesn't carry a teaspoon of extra weight. There's nothing to sweat out!

The self-discipline is scarey, however.

And I'll bet the image is posed.

This country's manufacturing diabetes more than anything else, it seems. So having a President who is at single digit body fat, likes to jam on the hardwood and hit the gym later in the day, well, that is not a bad thing at all.

And who is Andrew Romero? My guess: a double-chinned porker, average height or less, with a grossly disproportionate waist size.

the clock reads almost 8 thirty...making obama an early riser or an evening trainer, both on the edge of compulsive and just a bit beyond when most people would get to the gym.

Most people I know who go to the gym try to get there before work.

I suspect that Obama goes to the gym to think. It's just about the only place in his life where he is able to get away from people at this point. And one is supposed to be concentrating on something at a gym, even if it's looking at the tube or reading a book on the bike.

In addition, there's nothing like physical activity to dissipate tension, anger, temper. All those endorphins. Certainly he used the court as a kid in Hawaii to think and work out confusion and anger. At least that seems to be what he implies in the first book. Establish a habit like that at age 14 and you're set for life.

"Putin began studying judo at age 14 and has been studying ever since."

I'm certain exercise is a stress valve, an escape from the rigors of the campaign. Afterward, he is probably relaxed and focused, the way other people are after meditating. Just think what the reaction would be if he were photographed in a deep contemplative state while sitting in a lotus position... this is much better. The only risk is that it makes him appear youthful and thus, not presidential.

I think the sign on the wall is interesting. One can read it a couple different ways. Perhaps it's a cautionary note reminding Dems (and Obama) not to get comfortable lest they think they think this election thing is a "slam dunk" (where have I heard that phrase before?).

Speaking as one who sweats buckets whenever I'm in the cool-down phase after getting my heart rate up (and I'm fairly slender and active), I'm envious of anyone who is free of flop sweat, hot flashes, clammy hands, sweaty brow, or shirt sweat stains, whether pits, back, or chest. That alone is qualifications as far as I'm concerned.

Seems as if I can hardly exert myself in the SoCal heat without "making my own gravy."

So the guy goes to the gym.. that's just not a valid attack point. Not human because he's not sweating? Stupid.

What I find interesting about the photo, though is the way the hoop seems to be leaning in Barack's direction. It looks like it's been fixed to give him an easy layup. I believe that this is what the campaign ought to be for him.. running/playing solo against an old windbag. McCain, in my estimation is a hugely flawed candidate running at the top of a fractured party that's brought nothing but misery, death, economic downfall, injustice, secrecy, corruption, illegal spying, fear, torture.. OMG.

McCain is in the picture by his absence - he's so far behind that he's not showing up in the photo. Easy layup victory. NO SWEAT.

I don't see the "not human" aspect of this. It's a guy shooting hoops. The teenager living next door to me does this on a daily basis. My only objection to Obama's various hoop-shooting photos is that he tucks his t-shirt into his sweats. I find that a bit nerdy and too neat (I guess that goes with the lack of sweat).

Doesn't look to me like he's going to make the shot in the pic, but I'm not a hoops fan, so what do I know.

this is absurd....he probably tucks his shirt in so it doesnt fly up while making the shot as to not expose himself - imagine the freaking uproar if we were to see his actual flesh there. he should show this fat, obese country the way we should all be better at being in shape. the last time i quit smoking i had to go to the qym every day to help me stop - it takes your mind off of it and helps remind you (because your breathing so well) why you quit in first place. instead of knocking obama down for making good choices you all should be praising him for showing through example a better way to be. what exercise has mcsame done lately besides get out of bed in morning.....i would MUCH rather have obama at wheel than a cranky old man.

The American People have spoken. What they do not want out of their president:

1. Exercise

What they do want out of their president:

2. Sweaty
3. Tells jokes

the younguns wear really long t-shirts these days, sadja. Absurd or no, still looks a little dorkish to me. I guess I'll just have to vote for McCain....

There's no story here.

According to KCRW's "Right, Left, and Center" just now, the idea of Obama working out two of the three times was cover for private meetings with possible VP's.

Does someone really think 8:20 AM (or even PM) is odd for a guy who has been on campaign time for the last year? Sounds just about right to me.

Pff. McCain can't even lift his arms over his head. Yeah, because he was tortured, but still.

Doesn't matter what Obama does, Republicans will try to make hash out of it. It's all they've got anymore. Nothing positive, just trying to make others look bad -- no matter what they do.

I was unaware of the "inhuman" context... but I still can't shake my first impression:

The clear sign in the background forbidding dunking, and the fact that Obama is dutifully following the rules with an old-school layup rather than dunking gently anyway (or at least a more crowd pleasing finger-roll). I suppose it is entirely possible that he can't dunk... he looks a lot shorter in that photo than I thought he was. Hopefully he's been doing other things than working on his vertical (like keeping up to speed on that pesky constitution-thingy and its proper interpretation).

Anyway, while it is nice to think we may soon have a president that actually values the rule of law, perhaps even being beholden to it themselves (perish the thought!), there are a few customs and traditions I'd prefer him to break. Like triangulation after the nomination, or selling out your most vocal base as soon as you think you don't need them any more (as on FISA) -- both fine, time-honored Democrat traditions. Oh, and self-flagellation after loosing what seemed like a "sure thing". I really hope he doesn't plan to follow that rule.

healthy body healthy mind.....what`s the big deal about barack wanting to stay in shape for the grueling schedule he keeps? plus he has a wife and two young children that he has to keep up with.
have we become so used to presidents who are either in the first stages of senility or lusting/groping women that we have become jaded....

It brings me back to the chin-up photo you featured a few weeks back...

Obama's body and its movements are portrayed in a Mercurial sense: containing both the athleticism and the bizarre whismy of Hermes. Yep, I'm saying he is always shown as Olympian, and not always in a good way. He just needs a hat with little wings.

And like Hermes, he's a herald. The meaning of his arrival is understood by all, but he is understood by nobody. Because part of being Olympian is being ultimately unknowable.

George Bush was not Olympian, and it bought him two terms.

Human adults generally have a few skills other than their paid profession. For example, I can play unremarkable, but technically accurate, rhythm guitar to just about any song that has no more than four chords. John McCain apparently can BBQ a nice rib. This is a normal-looking layup, completely unremarkable for a left-handed, middle-aged person who enjoys shooting the occasional hoop. I'll bet someone could take an unremarkable picture of you doing something at which you're competent but uncompensated. I guess what I'm asking is, have we all lost our collective minds?

He jumps (not very high), he shoots (not with much authority), he scores?

I don't how much is Obama and how much is the photographer, but that is an iconic sports photo and an amazingly well composed shot.

There is a lot of empty space around Obama -- I would guess that is intention, or else the picture would have been cropped. What is the effect of seeing him alone? Among other things, it emphasizes his leadership role, in the sense that "it's always lonely at the top." He's no longer one among many. He is THE ONE.

The more I look at this photo, the more the composition looks perfect, like a painting. Classic pose.

There is a lot going on here and it is confusing. The original Newsweek article doesn't seem to be in the same spirit as the image.

It's a little reminiscent of the first Reagan campaign. Even if reporters were trying to be snarky, the pictures were often flattering to Reagan, or at least served his political purposes.

This Newsweek article, despite its intentions, serves to help Obama because the image overpowers the text.

Come to think of it, I can't ever remember Obama taking a bad photo. That's kind of superhuman in itself.

How horrible. A man who takes of himself and stays in shape. So what if it's posed. Most of us men at age 45+ couldn't make this photo look good with all the posing and set decoration in the world. This is pretty much a non-story.

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