Reading The Pictures: Townhall Redux

11/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Michael Shaw Publisher of the visual politics and media literacy site, Reading The Pictures.


As if August never ended.... While simultaneously reaching across the aisle and also challenged conservatives to act like grown-ups, Obama's health care speech before Congress brought still more troubling visuals.


In line with Rep. Joe Wilson shouting out "liar" when Obama made assurances about illegal aliens and access to services, Congressmen carried town hall teabagging resistance tactics into the chamber by waving the Republican Healthcare Reform Plan in attention-seeking unison and sporting aberrant looks and the crudely hostile home-scribbled sign.


It might be overstated to liken Wilson's action to domestic terrorism, but the U.S. Congress isn't the House of Parliament and his shocking breach of decorum created not only a disturbing moment, but even a fearful one. And that's what terrorism is about, isn't it -- instilling chaos and fear at an opportune moment against a high profile target?

You could see Pelosi's anxiety and worry until the moment clearly passed. I, too, felt a lingering anxiety until the end of the speech, wondering if some other rupture was going to occur. Ultimately, Wilson apologized to the White House saying his emotion got the better of him. It's that escalated right wing "emotion" (read: fanaticism), however, so nakedly showcased on a national stage, that's getting the best of democracy.

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(image 1 & 3: BNN screengrab via MSNBC. image 2: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. U.S. Capitol September 9, 2009. Washington, D.C.)