Monday, August 03, 2009

Catching Up with the "Brew-haha"

photo from the New York Times
Did anybody else, I wonder, find themselves squirming at the sight of President Obama and Vice-President Biden in their shirtsleeves at the "beer summit" Thursday? (I really liked Dan Schorr calling it a "brew-haha" on NPR Saturday)

I know it's old news now but I'm still thinking about it. The dimensions of power were blatant and awkward. Obama and Biden obviously could afford to almost loll in their rolled-up shirtsleeves, leaning back in their chairs. Meanwhile, Gates and Crowley showed (who wouldn't, when meeting the president of the United States?) in suits and ties, and sat up straight-backed in their chairs, knowing that half the world was watching. It looked like Biden and Obama were the only ones to reach for the peanuts, Obama even doing a little thing with his hands that almost looked as if he was tossing the peanuts into his mouth. How could anybody swallow anything in that atmosphere?

The self-assuredly casual, incongruous rolled-up shirtsleeves, a privilege of the Alpha Dogs, along with the beer, the peanuts -- none of that could really soften the significance -- the painful unresolved tensions, the media circus -- of this bizarre event. I couldn't believe CNN did a "countdown" to the "beer summit," yet I was right there waiting and ultimately embarrassingly transfixed.

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