Washington Monthly The Washingtonian has a new cover featuring the President of the United States shirtless. The web is abuzz. Is this the proper way to portray the nation’s elected leader? But as this blogger points out, there is another issue: The image has been heavily manipulated. The cover is based on a paparazzi photo of then President-Elect Obama during his vacation in Hawaii in December. In the Washington Monthly Washingtonian version, the color of his swimming trunks has been changed, the background has been blacked out, and Obama’s skin appears to be more golden in tone.
    So we have a couple of issues to debate.
    Should the magazine have used the picture? I do not see why not. The image speaks to a particular point: This politician is a new kind of celebrity. Some critics say that Washington Monthly the Washingtonian was pandering to the new administration. If so, it didn’t behave any worse than all the magazines and newspapers that used to run those photo-op shots of President Bush in his cowboy hat “clearing brush.”
    The manipulation I am not in favor of. It’s one thing to make the point that President Obama is a celebrity, but quite another to treat images of him as if he were in the same magnitude of celebrity as Britney Spears.
   _ Memo to Self_: That kind of trivialization should be avoided, no matter the temptation.
    Memo to President Obama: Stay off the Tonight Show, or this is what you’ll get.
    Let’s break this issue down even further, for the sake of discussion: What if the magazine had simply blacked out the backgorund and left his shorts and skin unretouched? I don’t think I’d have much of a problem with it. (We’ve got to put cover lines somewhere!)  —David Schonauer