There was something stirring in me as I saw the story of the Obama “selfie” at a state funeral. I try to put my finger on it, but it is evasive. I did not like it. Perhaps it’s the joking quality of it. For a moment, before I knew where it had been taken, I thought it might have been done at a Chuck-e-Cheese at a kids’ birthday party, perhaps the party of Obama’s youngest daughter. But that is not the case.
The United States has a few major international and domestic issues going on at the moment the “selfie” was taken. I think of all the people who are not eating properly in our great nation; and of all the people who are toiling in minimum wage jobs while these three people enjoy lives of significant privilege. People who would value the chance to attend Mandela’s funeral or other events of importance but are not privileged must only watch on TV and in the newspapers.
Now I hear that to try to restore some measure of dignity, Cameron of Great Britain is proposing selling the “selfie” to charity. Which to my mind, only makes the whole affair of taking the photo in the first place more shameful and more arrogant. None of the three leaders are youngsters; they all grew up without these invasive technologies, so should know how to attend an event without them. They should have known better.
I long for the kind of leaders of forty and fifty years ago, who despite being imperfect, were true statesmen (and women). Churchill, Johnson, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, even George Bush Sr., knew how to conduct themselves in public and bring pride to their people.