Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Way I See It

Last night, Shari & I watched the documentary THE WAY I SEE IT, which is the story of Pete Souza, the official White House photographer for the Obama administration. He was also a White House photographer for the Reagan administration. 

Pete is known better now for his Instagram account where he posts pictures from the Obama administration in response to tweets from our current president... and the documentary spends some time showing how that developed. The film is filled with iconic still images of both President Reagan and President Obama, as well as contemporary news footage and more recent interviews that provide context for those images. 

Tears ran down on my face multiple times watching the film - and not because I wish that Barack Obama was President again. I didn't vote for him in 2008 or 2012 and disagreed with a number of policy choices he made. Some I've come to appreciate over time; others I still believe were unwise. But that's not why I teared up.

I was mourning the loss of having someone in the White House who understood their role as President was bigger than their personal grudges and their ability to bully people via Twitter. I was struck again by the obvious tenderness of Ronald Reagan towards Nancy and Barack Obama towards Michelle - and the equally obvious reciprocal nature of their love in return. And I was reminded again of how impactful it was that an African-American was not just a servant in the White House, but the leader of the free world. Regardless of your perspective on politics, that was an important step forward in fulfilling the promises of the Declaration of Independence.

Meanwhile, the current President just demanded that the Attorney General open an investigation of his political opponent like we were some kind of banana republic with a tinpot dictator in charge. The cognitive dissonance is deafening.

I'll be the first to admit that this documentary has a soft spot for President Obama and his family - I think it would be difficult to avoid if, like Pete Souza, you spend nearly 10 years (2 in the Senate and 8 in the White House) photographing them. 

I'd recommend you watch the film - it's about to be available on Peacock streaming. Draw your own conclusions. Maybe it will remind you of what we are missing right now.

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