There's an old bromide that says the most reliable way to foretell the future is to create it yourself. And to hear MSNBC news commentator Lawrence O'Donnell tell it, a photograph may have done just that - predicted what's to come: "Fifty years from now, schoolchildren studying American history will come upon this photograph, and they will instantly know who was in charge of that room." The photo showed Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi rising from her chair resolutely point to the president during a cabin meeting.

She later told reporters what she was saying to him: "All roads lead to Putin."

American history in the making

Clearly, some kind of history was created. Not only did the photo go viral on social media and make newspaper headlines, but it even got the attention of a fashion magazine when Vogue, tagging the photo "instantly iconic," asked some art experts their opinion of it. Trump tweeted his opinion first: "Nervous Nancy unhinged meltdown." But his was a minority view.

Pelosi photo sparks art world reaction

Michelle Ruiz, writing the story for Vogue,

described the photo as "evidence of the first female Speaker’s political courage," and the art scholar she interviewed agreed. Nika Elder, assistant professor of American Art at American University, said the image "encapsulates the idea that the future is female.

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By way of explanation, Elder pointed out a history painting on the wall of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and called the Pelosi photo a "modern-day equivalent."

A link between Norman Rockwell and Leonardo da Vinci

Another art scholar, Angela Mack, chief curator at The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, S.C., told Ruiz that the table in the cabinet room reminded her of those in other paintings, like Da Vinci's The Last Supper and Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving picture."Most table scenes in art history are viewed as opportunities for people to get together and understand one another for people to get together and understand one another, but the Pelosi photo really represents a very different concept - an adversarial spirit."

Seeing Speaker of the House as Wonder Woman

Kudos to these art scholars for mining so much from objects in the background or foreground of the photo. My take focused on the image of Pelosi herself.

I see her leading the House to Trump's impeachment like the woman warriors of old who led troops into battle. The fabled Amazons come to mind. In their fights, they stood up to male power. But the Amazons are a fiction, a Greek myth on the order of the Marvel comic book character Wonder Woman. In a stretch, one might see Pelosi as some latter-day Athena, a.k.a. Minerva, who was the goddess of wisdom and strategy in war.

But here's the thing. She's no fiction.

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