A photo of a buff, shirtless Barack Obama on the cover of Washingtonian magazine this month is either evidence of a disrespectful, maybe even racist, press, or simply oo-la-la, depending on who you listen to. Many Americans found the cover offensive, the magazine's editor told Judith Warner of the New York Times. Not so for the Europeans, Australians and Africans, whose attitude is: "You should be really proud of this guy; he looks awesome," said editor Garrett Graff.
The foreigners have it right, declares Warner. "Putting a shirtless Obama on the cover doesn’t make a profound statement about his status or dignity. The cover captures the mood at a moment when Washington feels as if it could be exciting. Maybe we, too,
can aspire to combine intelligence with attractiveness" and define desirability "in a much broader way than empty-eyed visions of red-carpet celebrity," Warner concludes. "Would that really be such a terrible thing?"