President Barack Obama’s “selfie” at the Nelson Mandela memorial service on Tuesday created a storm of controversy as many deemed the actions inappropriate for the circumstances.
In case you don’t know, a “selfie” is a picture of yourself taken with a smart phone or iPhone. This practice has become a very popular way of sharing important events with friends.
It appears even President Barack Obama isn’t immune to its popularity, so what would be more natural when he gets together with other world leaders than to take the opportunity to mark the occasion with a “selfie.”
However, not everyone approves, and some are calling the behavior disrespectful for the occasion.
Conservative pundit Glenn Beck was particularly outraged by the President’s behavior, as evidenced by this angry conversation on his radio show with his assistant Pat:
“I cannot believe he didn’t think, ‘This is going to come back to haunt me,’” Pat said exasperatedly. “Are you that stupid… He’s got a grin on his face at Nelson Mandela’s funeral!”
“No, he’s not that stupid. He’s not that stupid,” Glenn said emphatically. “He is that arrogant. No one has ever told him, ‘No.’”
The photo (selfie) in question included President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who was the person actually taking the snapshot.
President Obama is seen smiling for the photo and looks relaxed, while Mrs. Obama, sitting to his left, doesn’t look all too happy. Could she be upset with her husband’s behavior?
The White House published a slideshow of highlights of President Barack Obama visit to South Africa on the occasion of Nelson Mandela’s passing last Thursday.
The slideshow includes behind-the-scenes images of President Obama’s trip, including the memorial service at a Soweto stadium, and the flight to South Africa on Air Force One, which the Obamas shared with former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura Bush.
However, instead of the “selfie” seen around the world, the White House included one of Mr. Obama leaning to his wife’s side with his back to the Danish Premier, who is seen still looking at her phone.
In recent weeks, news organizations have complained to the White House that the press is not given access to President Barack Obama during public events and official images taken by the President’s own photographers are released instead.
The official photograph, different from the “selfie” that created such controversy on social media and traditional news outlets, underscores the image the White House is trying to portray, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Roberto Schmidt of Agence France-Presse, the photographer who captured President Barack Obama’s “selfie”, had this perspective:
“I later read on social media that Michelle Obama seemed to be rather peeved on seeing the Danish prime minister take the picture. But photos can lie. In reality, just a few seconds earlier the first lady was herself joking with those around her, Cameron and Schmidt included. Her stern look was captured by chance.”
Schmidt admitted that at the time he took the-now infamous “selfie”, he was just looking at three world leaders, including President Barack Obama, being only human.
While the photographer is entitled to his opinion, President Obama’s casual behavior at a state funeral for an Important world leader has enraged his critics, who feel the President has once again managed to make himself the center of attention and embarrassed the American people.