October 29, 2004

Bush’s Doctored Ad: A Case of Racial Pandering?

Apparently, President Bush’s latest ads have been photoshopped (it used to be called “doctored”) with multiple copies of the same troops.


Of course, if a newspaper did the same thing, somebody would be publicly reprimanded for violating professional, ethical and moral standards. The question is, should political ads be held to the same mark? If not, can you say that the falsification is still relevant?

Consider this comment by miasmo in the dailykos message thread.

I don’t think this is a real issue. I doubt anyone high in the administration made the decision to photoshop the picture. Why distract ourselves or anyone else from the serious issues that prove Bush is incompetent and not on our side.

Having said that, I think this is indicative of the administrations mindset:
  – Reality doesn’t matter
  – soldiers are not valued individual citizens – merely disposable fodder for the empire machine or, in this case, campaign props.

(Ironically, the comment about “using” solders comes on the heels of Rudy Guiliani pointed the finger at U.S. combat troops for the failure to secure the weapons at Al Qaqaa.)

Once you deal with “what” was done to this picture, however, it still leaves the “why?”

If you want my guess, I’d say it’s about racial pandering. You’ll notice that the “red triangle” of men has two whites, and one black. If you look at the soldiers that are not superimposed, there are already a number of black faces (unless they were added, as well). Now, when you consider the recomposed picture as a whole, not only is it more “racially balanced,” it’s balanced in a quite symmetrical way. (Check out the black faces near the corners.)

Following this assumption, I came across another scene in the ad that might benefit closer attention. In a very quick shot, Bush’s image is superimposed over a cheering crowd, as if his motorcade happened to be passing by. I’m not sure if the people shown are actually cheering for Bush or not (the signs are not distinguishable), but the faces in the crowd are predominantly black. (In fact, judging from the scale of the people–comparing left to right, and top to bottom– and the fact different people seem to be facing different angles, I wouldn’t be surprised if this photo was reworked, as well.)


Of course, Bush’s poor standing with the Black constituency is well know. That has not stopped the administration, however, from pandering to blacks and pretending to promote a multiethnic agenda. Some of my early posts — around the time of the President’s gratuitous Africa trip –highlighted the extent to which Bush’s website bent over backwards to showcase Bush with Blacks (Link).

On the other hand, Bush’s overt appeal to Democrats over the last few days makes the doctoring more understandable. As David Brooks said on this evening’s Jim Lehrer show, “Bush saw his share of the black vote double, and he thinks it could win him Michigan.”

(By the way, I checked the Bush site again this evening, and it looks like the troop shot has been recropped and altered again to remove some of the duplicated figures. Kos really has an influence now, doesn’t it.)

View the ad, incredibly named “Whatever it Takes,” on the Bush video page, here .

(image: dailykos)
(referral: jillian. She contributes rants here.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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