Reading The Pictures: The Clinch

05/25/2011 12:35 pm ET
  • Michael Shaw Publisher of the visual politics and media literacy site, Reading The Pictures.

I looked at a mountain of pics from Tuesday's decisive night, and kept coming back to this one.

First, I appreciate the color of Michelle's dress, reprising -- at least to me -- the '04 conclusion that America (in contrast to the hyper-polarized red state/blue state dichotomy perpetuated by the media) is actually a lot more purple.

I also appreciate Michelle's proud, private, knowing, understated, intimate and unselfconscious expression, as well as the lack of tension in each partner's body. Observing them these many months, it is evident to me that the Obamas' ability to remain so relaxed is a natural expression of confidence.

Mostly though, I tried (fruitlessly) to imagine John and Cindy or Bill and Hillary celebrating the impending nomination with a fist bump, illuminating the fact that, as much as anything, the gesture -- just like this outcome -- is truly a generational thing.

(image: Scott Olson/Getty Images. June 3, 2008. St. Paul, MN)