It is clear that Obama’s Roman-ness runs far deeper than the much-mocked classical facade erected as the backdrop for his acceptance speech two years ago. And the president has certainly tried to keep his image campaign going in the Oval Office. He continues to use the once-ubiquitous rising-sun “identity” designed for him by the aptly-named Sol Sender. (Personality-cult rulers from Augustus through Louis XIV have sought to associate themselves with the sun.)
Meanwhile, by limiting photographers’ access to many important events, the Obama White House obliges media editors to choose from a range of carefully selected, powerful images taken by White House photographer Pete Souza (who was also President Reagan’s official photographer)..
But Obama’s ancient political tactics are not enough to maintain his prestige for two years in office; for unlike Augustus, the president has anything but a tight grip on the mass media. Obama’s rise relied on images, emotions, and themes; his fall has been the impossibility of making good on the superhuman expectations of a plugged-in populace. Even Shepard Fairey himself, the self-described “propaganda artist” to whom Obama’s campaign owes so much, has recently expressed disappointment with the President’s performance in office.