I watched The President’s Photographer last night at Bekka’s recommendation. While the documentary was a great way to get an inside look at the daily life of Barack Obama and his presidential predecessors, the part that I found most memorable was a brief moment when Obama is explaining what it’s like to have Pete Souza tailing and documenting all day.
He refers to it as “being under constant … observation,” pausing before “observation.” During that pause, I thought of the words he could have used the describe it: Watch? Surveillance? Attention? Notice? Scrutiny? Given his role and status as POTUS, and given that all photos taken by Souza and his staff are archived for posterity, it could have been expressed all kinds of ways, but he chose “observation.”
Seemingly benign (and possibly appropriate for stoically-perceived Obama), I found it to be the perfect word, at once objective and respectful and big-picture-cognizant to Souza’s job of basically following him around all day, taking photos.
Basically, I think words are hard, but Barack Obama is great at them. As someone who a huge appreciation for language but often struggles with communicating its nuances in speech, I found that pause significant. Knock on wood, but he hasn’t had any “misunderestimation”-type gaffes. Delivery is as important as content when communicating. I am glad he’s in the office for another four years.