Former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House on May 1, 2011 (Photo Credit: Pete Souza).
Compare and Contrast
Do you remember doing compare and contrast essays in elementary school?
The teacher would give you two people, two incidents in history or two points of view and ask you to write about what they had in common and what differentiated the two.
Well, the documentary “The Way I See It” is a simple, direct and reminiscent comparison and contrast of the 40th President of the United States (former President Ronald Reagan) and the 44th President of the United States (former President Barack Obama) to the current occupant of the White House, President Donald Trump.
At one time, photojournalist Pete Souza was the prototypical government employee, serving at the behest of this great nation and never offering his opinion on the political decisions of his bosses.
To do that takes great maturity and professionalism.
As a testament to his professionalism, Pete served as the official chief photographer for former President Reagan and former President Obama.
Reagan became an emblem of true conservatism in the 1980s while Obama became a beacon of liberalism as the first African-American Commander-in-Chief.
While Pete’s politics aligned more with the 44th president and not the 40th president, the photojournalist noticed two things about both men.
They were both decent and empathetic human beings.
Like many of President Trump’s critics, he sees none of those traits in the current POTUS.
And like many of those same people, Pete has always seen a problem with that and has a fear that it will continue to adversely affect the country if not put in check.
But unlike many in his position, Pete decided to take his beef with Trump to the president’s playground, Twitter.
He began by simply wanting to share some of his most candid shots of Obama and his family online.
But eventually Pete became known as the “King of Shade” for throwing shade at Trump even though he did not know what shade meant when he began getting praised for it.
Shade is simply throwing jabs or cheap shots at a person in a sarcastic and funny way.
While many of Trump’s detractors have insulted him verbally by responding to his Twitter posts, Pete’s photographic library of Obama allows him to throw shade at “45” with humorous pictures of “44.”
Pete’s shade began going viral to the point that he put Obama’s pictures with his shady comments in response to some of Trump’s more asinine tweets in book form.
Therefore, part of the documentary “The Way I See It” allows viewers to see Pete as he explains and promotes the coffee table book appropriately entitled, “Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents.”
But the book tour is not what makes “The Way I See It” special.
What makes “The Way I See It” special is the trip down a short block on memory lane to a leadership style that we do not see anymore.
One scene in “The Way I See It” stands out as extremely poignant.
After the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Obama had to give a press conference condemning school shooting, as any president would have to do.
But what Obama showed at that press conference is what many, if not all, U.S. presidents have shown.
That is a heart.
And unfortunately, that is something we do not really see in the current president despite the consequences to his fellow man.
At the press conference, Obama had to choke back tears to get through his speech.
After the press conference, he held his daughter Malia Obama as if he did not want to let his eldest daughter go.
He missed an important event in the life of his youngest daughter Sasha Obama to fly to Newtown, Conn. to console grieving parents and a shaken community.
One of the parents said that Obama made a B-line to his wife to give her a hug and to let them know how much he mourned their loss.
The Sandy Hook School father simply stated, “There’s no substitute for empathy.”
And throughout “The Way I See It,” the documentary shows still images of Obama consoling Americans from Baton Rouge, La. to all points in between.
“The Way I See It” shows the same empathy in Reagan.
When Reagan made mistakes like during the Iran Contra Affair, the gravity of the situation is worn on his face as depicted in Pete’s photographs.
But despite the moments of despair captured in still photographs by Pete, past presidents knew the importance of capturing history as it took place during their tenure in the White House.
Pete said that, “journalism is the first draft of history.”
As a result, Pete had unlimited access to Reagan and Obama.
Pete was always on call for eight years under Obama.
He even worked during a bout with walking pneumonia.
The photojournalist had to be on call for fleeting moments of history, regardless of how big or how small.
Pete even said that White House employees would tense up when he would enter a room because they knew Obama would surely follow.
Unfortunately, Trump does not grant such access to his administration.
Pete explains that many of Trump’s photographs that we see are staged photo ops.
Thankfully, “The Way I See It” contrasts Trump to his predecessors by brining up his responses to the coronavirus epidemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, showing how Obama responded to Ebola and H1N1.
Unfortunately, “The Way I See It” is very partisan against Trump, and can be seen as a regretful story of love lost as it pertains to the Obama presidency.
But what do you expect after the last four years?