The press was barred from witnessing a moment of silence President Obama privately observed Monday for the victims of the Boston bombings, allowing the White House to release its own carefully staged photo of the event.
Other than that the White House decided it wanted Americans to view Obama’s concern for the victims, it’s unclear why the event was staged or what value it had to the public.
Presidents rarely engage in this type of private symbolism, which has regal sense to it – the leader presuming that citizens will want to know he has paternal concern for them and possesses a deep sense of empathy. Obama could easily have taken the more traditional route for the leader of a republic and led the nation together in a moment of silence.
Or he could have privately observed the moment without mentioning it to anyone.
The White House has in fact been carefully cultivating Obama’s image in response to the attacks, releasing a series of photos showing him gathering with aides and making phone calls.
On top of the obvious public relations display, these at least have the practical value of showing citizens that the president is on top of a dangerous situation.
Below is the photo the White House provided Monday.