There are many ways to remember President Barack Obama’s appearance at South Africa’s memorial for Nelson Mandela.
Some may remember Obama as Mandela’s spiritual son, our president riding on his own soaring rhetoric at that stadium, wrapping himself in Mandela’s mantle, dreaming of the father of the new South Africa.
And others will seize on Obama shaking hands with the executioner of Cuba, our president bowing to Raul Castro just as he once bowed to the lords of the Chicago Democratic Machine before beginning his climb.
But those images — Obama riding on his magic rhetorical carpet, reaching for dreams of Mandela, or his clasping of the right hand of Fidel Castro’s demonic brother — are about politics.
But there’s another image from the memorial that defines Obama. It has nothing to do with ideology.
A news photographer captured the president sitting with the prime ministers of Great Britain and Denmark. He has a cellphone in his hand. The three of them are grinning.