April 18, 2005

All in the Footwork


Generally, I tend to assume most news photos have a some kind of editorial slant.

That’s why I was interested in this image that accompanied Howard Fineman’s piece in last week’s Newsweek.  The article, title Playing Rope-a-Dope (link), profiles the reluctant Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid.  The story outlines Reid’s assumption that the Republican’s are overreaching, and his strategy of keeping the Dems united and letting the GOP bloody itself. 

It’s clearly possible to see this picture as uncomplimentary to Reid, especially with the “under the table” vantage, and the prominent role of the aide’s mostly bare foot.  On the other hand, the fact that Reid is keeping to the background with his head down is exactly Fineman’s point.  It’s easy to fret that the Democratic leadership is fragmented or is lacking in charismatic figures, but what if Reid is exactly what the doctor ordered right now? 

The Reid that Fineman describes is hardly retiring, by the way.  (I guess you can see that in the way that left leg extends.)  Explaining that the Senator is a former amateur boxer and a long time student of the game, Fineman uses fight analogies to emphasize Reid’s strategic skill and quiet tenacity.  After digesting this information, it makes you think that Harry is actually sitting there reviewing his plan for executing a legislative technical knock out.

If this period does prove decisive in exposing the right for its arrogance and abuse of power, I can’t imagine anyone will remember that Harry Reid was in the center of this picture.  Consistent with his character, however, I think he’d prefer it that way.

(image: Charles Ommanney for Newsweek; April 18, 2005, p. 45)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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