A Hug Is Just a Hug
Nov 19, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 10 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Sometimes a picture just isn’t worth a thousand words. Or to be more precise, the 947 words the Washington Post’s Philip Kennicott published the day after the election about a photograph of Barack and Michelle Obama embracing earlier this year. It’s a lovely photo, and we don’t doubt that it captures an affectionate moment between the president and his wife. Kennicott, however, wants to inform us of a deeper significance in the photo, hidden to the unenlightened masses who gaze upon it:
The Scrapbook is not entirely sure what Kennicott is driving at, but he seems to be laboring under the delusion those with traditional views on marriage are morally opposed to hugging. It is, further, astonishing, even at this late date, to see the Judeo-Christian marriage ethic reduced to possession and obedience; this characterization of it seems more like willful hostility rather than simple misunderstanding.
If the Obamas’ marriage and fidelity to one another seems admirable, that might be because they seem to have a pretty traditional marriage. The Scrapbook doesn’t want to be mistaken for a Philistine—unlike Kennicott, we are not a two-time Pulitzer finalist—but it seems to us that this is just a nice photo of the president and first lady embracing. Looking for much more meaning than that is bound to be political axe-grinding. But when it comes to grinding axes, Kennicott is a veritable Paul Bunyan:
Of course, there’s much more revealing political context regarding marriage this Election Day than the success of gay marriage referendums. Not that Kennicott found room to acknowledge this, but those who actually enjoy the security and importance of marriage tend to be at odds politically with the president. Married voters favored Romney by 14 percentage points—had only married people voted, the president would have lost in a landslide. However, unmarried voters, who now make up an astounding 40 percent of the electorate, went for Obama by 24 points.
The Scrapbook can sum up its bottom line in 945 words fewer than Kennicott: We’re pro-hug.