Earlier today President Barack Obama signed a law about prison sentences for possession of crack cocaine and powder cocaine and the photograph of the smiling group of people who supported the legislation gave us a brief pause.

The Democrats and Republicans gathered around the president in the Oval Office rarely agree on anything.  Let’s take a minute to dissect this photograph.


There’s Attorney General Eric Holder (pictured second from the left), a close confidante of Obama’s. But he has drawn intense criticism for his plan to prosecute the five alleged plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in a criminal court in the heart of Manhattan (now highly unlikely). He also has been lambasted by Republicans for affording full legal rights to terrorism suspects who have been arrested on U.S. soil.

Next to him is Vermont Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy who has been the president’s man shepherding through the Senate his two Supreme Court justice nominees. The second nominee, Elena Kagan is expected to win Senate support but with only a handful of Republicans backing her.

Then just over the president’s left shoulder is Senator Richard Durbin, a Democrat from Obama’s home state of Illinois. He  has been a big proponent of bringing terrorism suspects to trial in traditional criminal courts and even housing some of the suspects at a prison in his state (can we say jobs during a recession?).