Obama Picked Up: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

(Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

The story goes like this (emphasis not mine):

In Florida for his bus tour on Sunday, President Barack Obama made an unannounced stop at Big Apple Pizza and Pasta in Ft. Pierce. There, the shop’s owner, Scott Van Duzer, lifted the president off the ground”

Obama entered the shop saying, “Scott, let me tell you, you are like the biggest pizza shop owner I’ve ever seen,” according to a White House pool report.

Van Duzer, 46, is a big guy: He is 6′ 3″ tall and weighs 260 pounds.

After Obama was lifted up, he said “Look at that!” Man are you a powerlifter or what?”

He continued, according to the pool, talking about Van Duzer’s big muscles.

“Everybody look at these guns,” he said. “If I eat your pizza will I look like that?”

Van Duzer, by the way, is a registered Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and says he will do so again in November.

“I don’t vote party line, I vote who I feel comfortable with, and I do feel extremely comfortable with him,” he told the press pool.

Usually I don’t write about just politics, but as a matter of principle, I found this incident deeply disturbing. It’s dishonest; it’s propaganda, and propaganda can be dangerous. I may not be a specialist in matters of security, but any average citizen can see that this is totally staged.

When the President is in public, the Secret Service agents wear him like cologne (sorry, my husband’s descriptor). This is standard procedure, not just for Obama, but for any president, especially since the assassination of President Kennedy. Do you see a Secret Service agent anywhere in the shot? Nope.

A hug like this by a stranger puts the President in great danger. My husband, the Special Ops retired guy, says there are about 15 different ways (or more) to kill a man in this position, and it takes very little training to know how. Look at how big that guy is. Look at how Obama’s left carotid artery is exposed. One hard bite by someone trained to know what to do, and it can be severed. Death is almost instant. That gives me chills to even type, but the point is — the Secret Service would never permit this to happen unexpectedly. They exist to obstruct these possibilities.

Whether he’s shaking hands with admirers, walking off his own plane, or giving speeches, the President of the United States is surrounded by agents. Remember this interview in February 2009 with Matt Lauer from the Today Show? Even in the White House the President is surrounded by the Secret Service. Do you hear what Mr. Lauer says? (Begin at 6:46.) “I watched you walk down the halls a couple of times and there’s someone in front of you and someone behind you.”

Obama: “That’s exactly right.” That’s how tight security is, at home.

No doubt Secret Service agents were crawling all over this place of business to protect the President, but make no mistake, this little bear hug took lots of resources to pull off. It’s Florida, it’s an attempt to gain votes. I can understand wanting to show that the public loves you, but this went too far. It’s insulting, an antic for dictators. Does he think we are that stupid?

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Stacy Trasancos

Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. is a scientist turned homemaker raising seven children with her husband in New York. She is pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, and she is a Chief Editor at Ignitum Today and a Senior Editor at Catholic Lane. She writes about all that she is learning at her blog, Accepting Abundance.


  1. Well Obama has picked up in the polls too. Wall Street sold off health management as a result.
    Humana, Wellpoint, and United Health care are all down over 2% right now as a result.

  2. Obama is experiencing a fairly typical post covention bounce. Walter Mondale got a sixteen point bounce in 1984 and was ahead of Reagan by two points in a Newsweek poll post convention. In 2008 McCain enjoyed a post convention bounce and led Obama by five points for about a week.

    The bear hug picture flummoxes me. I can’t see how it is a good image for Obama to be picked up as if he is a toy, but obviously it is the image that his campaign wanted taken. The bear hugger had previously been a guest at the White House, so this was no random event, unlike Biden and the bikers.

  3. This is also part of a strategy to portray Obama as a supporter of small business. In reality, a recent Rasmussen poll shows business owners favor Romney 56% to 36%, and a Manta poll has small business owners favoring Romney 61% to 26%. People need to understand this is not a contest between the Koch Brothers and Obama the Champion of the Little Guy. Business owners, with good reason, don’t have any faith in Obama.

  4. I have seen this picture and that one of Joe with the biker chick on his lap. Just like the presicent, the V.P. has secret service all round him. were both photos staged? I’d say yes. When we look at the picture of Joe Biden and the two ‘bikers’ on each side of him, it might of only been the presence of the Secret Service just outside the picture image that kept him from getting ‘biked’. I did some searching and can find nothing about Joe Biden being or ever been a bike rider but does seem to have a fancy for them. As for the photo of the president in the bear-hug, his ‘cologne’ is most likely a arms length away and the ‘hugger’ had probably been checked out as read one note that he had visited the White House – but need fact check on that.

  5. Donald,
    Based on what you said, there’s probably a trade not investment in Humana in these days. Wall Street is short term emotions especially with low volume lately which causes unusual swings. Another reaction from Wall St. is that Smith and Wesson firearms is up over 3.8% just today. If you care to check wall street tells on Obama on any day, just go to yahoo finance and put in the symbol for Smith and Wesson… SWHC or Humana…HUM. Guns go up and health care managers go down if there’s good news for Obama. It will simply tell you whether to check the news further than usual for anything new like a poll report.

  6. If the Biker Biden event wasn’t staged, that is defintely a failure on the part of the Secret Service because they are tasked to wear the VP “like cologne” as well.

  7. Looks like reverse snobbery and fawning for votes from ‘types’.

    For the psychological effect of admiration for how they relate to the little guy in America.

    Totally transparent, cheap, and demeaning for all involved. ‘Friends’ in need.

    Do they not have work to do? Campaigning and troublemaking for four years while bankrupting the country is doing no good for their new friends when the bubble bursts.

    (The people who would normally be kept at a distance were they to even want to make body contact with the two leaders of the world stage.)

  8. I read somewhere this morning that this was utterly staged, asand that the Pizza guy has visited the Whitehouse- supposedly this year. I would imagine then that they set it up to look random, but as Stacy and others have mentioned, they’d never let an act like this take place without security. It IS propaganda. As is most of his campaign.

  9. Do we really have to pick everything apart? The trip was not planned, they had not met before, and yes he ask before he picked him up. He is mingling with voters. I am not an Obama fan, however I really dislike when people pick everything that happens apart. I have friends that have worked in high profile government positions and you are correct no one can just pick him up, however not everything is staged, and this made the day of the man mentioned as well as several other Ft. Pierce residents. I have a friend who was present and they all where touched by how down to earth and friendly he was. Just realize as Christians and Americans, if we over think and over justify everything that happens and over dramatize it, we will all be miserable. So relax, and write about the bigger issues, and not the small stuff.

  10. “The trip was not planned, they had not met before, and yes he ask before he picked him up.”

    Actually the man had ridden by bike to the White House in support of his blood transfusion charity over the summer. There was nothing random about this, although I doubt if the White House thought the image would make Obama appear as weak as it does. The bear hugger is facing a boycott of his pizza business from clients that do not share his enthusiasm for Obama.


  11. Ann, Staged events are common fare on the campaign trail. All indications are that this was yet another. I’m not offended by the staging. Politics is at least in part theater. I am offended by the insistance that the public swallow such nonsense. Acknowledge that a campaign advance team had him on the list, interviewed him, thought up this stunt, ran it by the Secret Service, and then move on.

    Don, A boycott is a mean and stupid thing to do. He is a businessman who hoped to get some free advertising by having a staged meeting with the President. Restaurants in Philly often have signed photographs of celebrities who have eaten there. This means no more than that.

    I wonder though how the President squares advertising a pizza parlor while the First Lady actively pursues a health food revolution. Given how thin the President has become, maybe he snuck an extra slice or two off camera: “no Michelle, I just got thrown around like a rag doll and left. Honest! Ask the Secret Service! Hey Bob, tell the First Lady I never touch the stuff. See? Aw, come on baby, you know I’d never eat something you said I shouldn’t. Now lets go down to the kitchen and see if the White House chef can rustle us up some celery sticks an salt substitute.”

  12. “A boycott is a mean and stupid thing to do. He is a businessman who hoped to get some free advertising by having a staged meeting with the President.”

    Actually G-Veg he announced that he is a Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and who is going to do so again this year. He is the one who brought his politics front and center. When one does that in the business world one has to be ready for the consequences.

  13. You know, Ann, I was thinking about what you said, and this seemingly little antic tells me much more than a speech does. It reveals something really flawed in his character, at a fundamental level. For him, it’s not about our country, it’s all about him. And like Don said, I don’t want to see our President basically looking like like someone’s toy. Showing the public that people are comfortable with you is one thing (and, for a president, not a very important thing), but this is borderline narcissism.

    We need a leader, not an action figure.

  14. His post convention bounce is already fading Bruce and even with polls that are stacked in favor of Obama in regard to Democrat samples the race is statistically a dead heat, which is very bad news for Obama less than a week after his convention.

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