This story is not a great surprise. After spending the past year appropriating the name and image of Abraham Lincoln, Obama is trying to prevent anyone else using his.
White House lawyers want to control the use of the president’s image, recognizing the worldwide fascination about Obama’s election, First Amendment free-speech rights and easy access to videos and photos on the Web.
“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Obama’s calls for change and his “Yes We Can” campaign mantra are being evoked to sell assembly-required furniture in Ikea’s “Embrace Change” marketing campaign, bargain airfares during Southwest Airlines Inc.’s “Yes You Can” sale and “Yes Pecan” ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. shops.
The problem is that most courts recognize that the president gives up most right to control his image when he’s in office. One other problem is that if you’re using government lawyers to enforce this, will enforcement be content neutral? If they allow favorable depictions, they’ll have First Amendment problems if they try to shut down people who use his image in critical or crass ways.