How To Get Noticed After Nerd Prom

In Mike’s defense, it looks like he was just sitting at a table when someone glamorous walked by. I’d say he was photobombed, unless I’ve misunderstood the concept entirely. Marin Cogan looks at the photobomb phenomenon among Beltway types:

The Washington elite are usually the subjects of these photos, but they can sometimes be photobombers, too—like this picture of Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill photobombing Tennessee Republican Bob Corker (a rare foreground photobomb, a la the famous photobombing seal). Or this picture of former president Bill Clinton rubbernecking to check out Kelly Clarkson at the inauguration this year, or this one of House Speaker John Boehner miraculously photobombing himself. Once a year, at the White House Correspondents Dinner, Hollywood and Washington elites tangle with such intensity that it’s impossible to tell who’s photobombing whom (see, for example, the photograph actress Elizabeth Banks tweeted this weekend of herself and Cantor).

This being Washington, the photobomb isn’t always just a joke; it can also be a status marker, especially among aides and advisors.

In the White House, where everyone is subtly angling to be photographed in the proximity of the president, the photobomb is the goal. Because the POTUS is trailed by a photographer wherever he goes, “and the photo office hangs the latest and greatest shots on the walls, there’s a heightened awareness that today might be your day to look heroic and/or important as a supernumerary,” says Reid Cherlin, a former White House spokesman who is definitely not embarrassed by this photo of him clapping behind the president as the administration’s health care reform was passed into law. “I think that, as a general principle, most people in politics—whether on the staff side or the media side—harbor doubts about their proximity to actual power. Having a photograph of you and the newsmaker is proof, as much for yourself as for anyone else, that for a moment, at least, you were in the center of things,” he says, “even if really you were just coming out of the bathroom at the wrong time.”