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Obama plays with Spider-Man | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Some news that appears light and spontaneous on the surface may in fact carry heavy and revealing connotations, albeit in an unintended manner, at least to those retrospectively viewing this news.

In this regard, let us take a look at a picture published on Barack Obama’s Facebook account, in which the US president is seen pretending to be rendered helpless by a pint-sized Spider-Man. This snapshot has met with the approval of many commenters as it demonstrates the president’s softer human side, to the point that many have commented on the humorous nature of this picture.

This picture was taken by official White House photographer Betty Souza, whilst the mini Spider-Man is in fact the son of a White House staffer in fancy dress. The picture catches “Spider-Man” in the process of slinging an imaginary web at the president, whilst Obama, for his part, is playing along, miming being hit by the web. Britain’s Daily Mail, for example, included the following caption to this picture “Gotcha: President Obama pretends to be caught in Spider-Man’s web as he greets the son of a White House staffer in the Outer Oval Office in October.”

The picture was accompanied by the expected funny commentaries, including one commenter who wondered whether Spider-Man was a Republican or Democrat!

I would like to take the opportunity to contribute to these funny comments on this image of the president of the world’s greatest superpower struggling against Spider-Man’s imaginary webs.

The most important question is: did Obama know that this young boy was pretending to be Spider-Man, and that he is really an innocent child who does not truly possess any super-powers? Or did he truly think that he was facing Spider-Man himself, who perhaps was trying to trick the president by appearing in the guise of a small child?

Indeed, who was slinging webs at whom in this picture? Spider-Man or the President? And what Spider-Man are we talking about?

Let us leave Spider-Man aside for a moment, and focus on the very real President Barack Obama. Let us try to understand what superhero role the president, and indeed America itself, is playing, particularly in terms of its dealings with our own region?

I would like to know what Obama really thinks about Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad or indeed Hassan Nasrallah, Mohamed Mursi and Rachid Ghannouchi.

This is regarding the current situation, but what about the past? How did he view Mubarak, Ben Ali, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden and Ali Abdullah Saleh?

How would anybody with superpowers – whether we are talking about a superhero or super villain – view these figures that have been deposed from power, or indeed killed outright?

And how does Obama view their replacements, many of whom have come to power with US encouragement and support?

We have let our imaginations fly thanks to the otherworldly nature of this image of Spider-Man facing off with Barack Obama, but we must return to reality where there are no masked superheroes or indeed super villains. All that remains is the childish naiveté regarding the true consequences of actions.