I saw this CS Monitor image over on a post at Redstate. I am stunned.
So much about leadership is optics. That is, people can't follow unless they see who you are, what you are doing, and provide a vision of where you want them to go. It's fundamental. It's the basis for ethics guidelines for avoiding not only actually improprieties but the appearance of improprieties. Presidents, for better or worse, are usually masters of optics. (And when their attempts go bad, they usually get jumped on by the same group that regularly and happily marches in the same parade - see Clinton's pebbles on the beach of Normandy or Bush's "mission accomplished" banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln.)
It doesn't really matter what the story is around this photograph. There are some facts:
The Dalai Lama visited the White House.
The Dalai Lama walked by a pile of trash.
A photographer captured an image of the moment.
The image was published.
Now how does that appear? What are the Presidential optics, the message being sent?