The Situation Room
The above photo of Vice President Joe Biden, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other national security team members in the Situation Room, watching the live military operation to kill Osama bin Laden has stuck with me since I first saw it several days ago. I was immediately struck by Clinton's expression and her covered mouth, which appeared to be poised with some intense feeling of worry, anxiety, or, more likely, horror. I think I actually cried a little when I saw it.
Since then, of course, Clinton has talked openly about the photo to which she remarked,
I am somewhat sheepishly concerned that it was my preventing one of my early spring allergic coughs. So it may have no great meaning whatsoever.
I'm not sure if I believe she wasn't really having a feeling or if, more likely, I don't want to believe she wasn't having one.
An unbelievably huge event happened in that room the other night -- and an even bigger event happened across the world in a large-scale bunker in Afghanistan. The United States targeted an enemy and took him out. Sought him. Shot him in the head. Killed him. It's a huge deal. A grisly act of war. And not easy no matter how evil Osama bin Laden was.
So when I saw this photo, it gave me some small relief to know that someone -- that being Clinton in this case -- had a visible emotional feeling about it (President Obama appears to be having an intense feeling as well, but I can't quite determine what it is). I took solace knowing souls of senior officials were greatly stirred as it all went down the other night.
However, while Clinton admits "those were 38 of the most intense minutes," she also outwardly denies the notion that she might have been having a feeling during them. Intense, yes. Emotional, no. Not in that moment that is pictured. Not even later? What about later? What about when the bullet struck that man's skull? Was a feeling allowed then?
Do I wonder if Clinton is covering up the truth about a personal and emotional moment for fear of being seen by the world and her peers as a (gasp!) woman? I do. But even scarier to me is the idea that she or anyone else in that room might not have actually had a reaction that looked like the one she was or wasn't having when the photo was taken. After all, while I want my leaders to be strong, fierce, and determined, I also want them all to have deep insight and emotion about the decisions they are making for our country and the world. In a nutshell, I prefer for them all to be a little, well -- "womanly," I guess, is the only word I have that encompasses all that. It's a good thing.
What's your reaction to this photo and Clinton's comments about it?
Image via Pete Souza for Official White House/Flickr