The excellent Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm trains his gimlet eye on a phoney-baloney photo op featuring the First Lady. Michelle Obama recently served up mushroom risotto and broccoli at a privately run D.C. kitchen for the homeless called Miriam's.
Such images of need might … help build support for her husband's economic and healthcare reform agenda, although a Miriam's spokeswoman said their average "guest" has been homeless since about the time Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Accompanying the story of Mrs. Obama's selflessness was a passel of pics that were widely distributed. Asks Malcolm of one shot in particular (on right):
It doesn't detract from the first lady's generous gesture or the real needs she seeks to highlight to ask two bothersome journalistic questions about these news photos:
If this unidentified meal recipient is too poor to buy his own food, how does he afford a cellphone?
And if he is homeless, where do they send the cellphone bills?
Which brings to mind the great and apocryphal story about Stalin and the film version of The Grapes of Wrath: Uncle Joe showed the film to his captive, immiserated subjects to highlight the depredations of life under capitalism. Instead, Boris Baglunch and Svetlana Sixpack watched the final scene of the Joads et al. lighting out for California and were amazed to see that in America even the poor had cars.
Hat tip: Bill Foote