Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
November 2, 2004

Bush … For a Day

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If Bush wins, he’ll be his old self again tomorrow.

For today, however, facing the prospect of defeat, Bush is displaying a real humanity. It’s a tragedy (for him, but more so, for the country and the world) that he has been unable to access anything close the past four years. The images today show a feeling Bush, as opposed to someone who has awkwardly assumed emotional poses (strength, determination, compassion).

In my entry about the costumed Bush staffers, I concluded that they had “lost it.” Rather, what’s happened is that the entire Bush team has suddenly dropped it’s guard. This morning’s NYTimes piece (“From Bush, a Late Call for Support Across Party Lines”) revealed as much. Elisabeth Bumiller wrote:

Mr. Bush’s aides, after asserting for weeks that they were confident and calm, finally admitted in the last marathon stretch that they were on edge.

Other accounts also reveal a more honest picture.

In this morning’s USA Today, Judy Keen and Richard Benedetto wrote:

Bush has said he’s working too hard to feel wistful about his last run for office. But he has remarked on passing moments to his advisers: the last week, the last Thursday, the last weekend, the last day. He made sure that aides who have been at his side throughout his political career were with him at the campaign’s end.

Mike Allen and Lyndsey Layton in this morning’s Washington Post wrote:

But despite the insistence that all was well, the erosion in the moods of Bush’s inner circle over the past two weeks was unmistakable. Several of his close advisers said they were concerned because the president had achieved no last-minute momentum, and Democratic turnout was looking as if it might swamp the Bush-Cheney campaign’s projections.

Mark McKinnon, Bush’s chief ad strategist, flew with him all day and said Bush was “nostalgic” about having so much of his team from 2000 out on the road with him one last time. Asked about the mood on the plane, a subdued McKinnon replied, in a deadpan voice: “Jubilation.”

It’s enlightening to know that there are actual people behind the steel and bravado. But if Bush wins, no one will every believe there was even a crack in the window.

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