On Wednesday, April 6, President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons in Syria, believed to have been committed by the country's dictator, Bashar al-Assad. Dozens of Tomahawk missiles were fired at Shayrat air base, reportedly intended to deter the Syrian government from unleashing any more chemical weapons. And, one day later, a "situation room"-style was released ― there are several interesting things about the photo of Trump's Syria strike behind the scenes, both who was there, and what it evoked.
If you remember the photo that came out in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, then the image released by the White House on Friday probably looks rather familiar. It's shot very much in the same style, both showing the president sitting in the thick of it, reportedly receiving a briefiing on the operation he ordered
Suffice to say, plenty of people have been discussing this image, which is the first once the public has of Trump sitting in a war room-style configuration at a moment of national and international significance. Whether you consider where it was taken, who was there, or what was happening at that very moment, there's a lot going on.
Trump Takes Center Stage
Unlike the famed photo of the bin Laden raid, probably the most iconic image of a president seated in a setting like this, Trump is seated at the head of the table, dead center in the frame. Back when Obama was ordering and overseeing the bin Laden raid, he sat slightly off to one side.
Look familiar? Trump releases copycat photo: Syria missile strike meeting vs. Obama team live tracking the raid to kill Osama Bin Laden. pic.twitter.com/thgmJIRXoJ— Kevin Baron (@DefenseBaron) April 7, 2017
Visible in the image: President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, official Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, real Secretary of State Jared Kushner, White House strategist Steve Bannon, Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell, senior adviser Stephen Miller, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, National Security Adviser National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, National Security Adviser H.R McMaster, White House Chief Of Staff Reince Priebus, and Deputy Chief of Starr for Operations Joe Hagin.
That Mar-A-Lago Feeling
I imagine Trump could hardly wait to have his own version of Obama’s “Bin Laden Raid” photo. pic.twitter.com/DITQ5OAfFk— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) April 7, 2017
And, although the two images look somewhat similar, they were taken in entirely different locations. While the bin Laden raid was ordered and observed from the White House, this photo must've been taken somewhere at Mar-a-Lago, the president's private country club, where he reportedly was all day.
What's With Steve And Jared?
Plenty of people noted that Kushner and Bannon seem to be looking in each other's direction, and neither looks terribly pleased. In fairness, it's totally impossible to judge for sure in a still photograph, but thanks to recent news it's hard not to wonder ― this image was taken hot on the heels of a report from The Daily Beast alleging that Bannon's called Kushner a "globalist" and a "cuck" behind his back, the latter being a racist sexual taunt derived from "cuckold."
Diversity On Display!
The Trump administration has generated a lot of press for its staggering lack of racial and gender diversity ― you have to go 13 names down the presidential line of succession to find someone who's not a white man, and that's HUD secretary Ben Carson. As for this briefing inner-circle, there are 15 people pictured, 14 of which are white men.
Of course, in fairness, the bin Laden raid photo was overwhelmingly white and male too, save for former president Barack Obama himself, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But when it comes to the overall diversity of an administration, the U.S. just went from one of the most to one of the least of the modern era.