What's up with this photo of the Bidens and the Carters?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

This was a sensation on political Twitter last night, for more than one reason.

Although the obvious reason is obvious enough. Uh, why do Joe and Jill look roughly twice the size of Jimmy and Rosalynn?

I hope the president and first lady enjoyed their trip to the Shire.

Carter’s parting advice to Biden after their visit was to follow the yellow brick road.

No, really, what happened here, photographers? Is it as simple as using a wide-angle lens to get everyone in the frame, with the two people at the outer edges appearing enlarged as a result? We should try to solve this mystery before Tucker invites Alex Berenson on to try to puzzle out why getting vaccinated seems to have made the Bidens grow and the Carters shrink.

The other reason is more substantive. It was just five days ago that Biden was asked by NBC why he continued to wear a mask outdoors when the CDC had just announced that vaccinated people didn’t need to. Biden countered that there are situations in which even those who’ve been vaxxed might continue to take precautions around others as their “patriotic responsibility.” Why, look how far away we’re sitting from each other even though we’ve both been immunized, he told Craig Melvin. Watch:

Melvin’s just 41 years old and seemingly in good health. The Carters are … both in their 90s and frail. And yet there’s Joe, mask off, within a foot or so of Rosalynn Carter. What?

To be clear, since the Bidens and Carters have all been vaccinated, there was no reason for the president to mask up around them. He and FLOTUS were following CDC guidance here, holding a small indoor gathering with friends who’ve been immunized. Face coverings aren’t necessary in those circumstances according to the official rules. But according to the Biden code of conduct, one should take care to limit transmission around others *even after* vaccination, whatever the rules may say.

So why no mask? Did he change his mind within the past week? Or is there a “photo op” exception to placing nonagenarians at minuscule but marginally greater risk of infection by unmasking around them?

I’ll leave you with this exchange from CNN this morning, in which John Berman grills the health director of Brookline, Massachusetts, on why they’re still keeping their outdoor mask mandate in place despite the CDC saying it’s no longer necessary. You can’t be too careful, he says, especially in colder weather. I … think you can be too careful.