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President Selfie: Obama marks Mandela passing by focusing on himself

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In what has become a disturbing trend, President Obama has marked a solemn event by making himself the center of attention. This time, the passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela has given the President the chance to shoehorn himself into history.

When a well-known figure passes away, it is human nature to focus on the one who has passed. President Obama, perhaps taking cues from our own narcissistic culture, would rather make himself the lens through which we view and remember the person. Upon President Mandela's passing on December 5, the official White House Twitter account marked it with 13 tweets in six minutes quoting Obama's thoughts on Mandela. Not once did they provide a Mandela quote of any significance, even though there are many that would have been appropriate for the occasion. They then tweeted a picture, not of Mandela, but of President Obama standing in the South African prison cell in which Mandela spent nearly 30 years for opposing apartheid.

For a nation that has become obsessed with providing every useless detail of their life on social media, including a nauseating number of "selfies" (which are self portraits, for those of you technology-impaired), the President's self-promotion will likely go unnoticed, but the practice has been called out by a select few. was among the first to call the President out, and posted a telling photo (included with this column), which is actually a collage of photos released by the White House upon the passing of Nelson Mandela, the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination, and the passing of Neil Armstrong. Each photo focuses not on the individual who died, but on President Obama reflecting on that person. In fact, only one of the three photos actually shows the individual who passed: the Kennedy photo. In that picture, the focus is on Obama, who is looking at a painting of Kennedy.

It is clear that being the leader of the free world can be a big boost for the ego. President Obama has demonstrated that time and again. Unfortunately, the President has forgotten that what made Mandela, Kennedy, and Armstrong great was not power or self-promotion, but sacrifice and servitude for others. Forsaking ego is but one step in the path to greatness.

Victor Medina writes for Yahoo News and his political blog His other writing credits include The Dallas Morning News and He has served as a Dallas County election judge and on the Board of Directors of The Sixth Floor Museum. You can follow him on his blog, or on Twitter at @mrvictormedina. He can be reached by email at Click here to receive a weekly email update from To be notified of future stories by Victor Medina, click the SUBSCRIBE link here or at the top of this page.



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