April 21, 2005

I'll Gladly Pay You in Forty or Fifty Years For a Hamburger Today


Last time we checked in with the road show, George Bush was in Iowa (Dispatch from Cedar Rapids – link).  This time, it’s Columbia, South Carolina. 

If you read the last dispatch, you know I’m big on the theory that “W” has been on autopilot.  (In addition, he seems to have morphed into a caricature of his own caricature, identified mostly by a limited set of emphatic hand gestures.)

I’d say his p.r. people are getting a little lax, as well.  What’s with those microphones encroaching on Bush’s bar delivery?  Also, what’s with that “how much longer do with have to stand around here” vibe from the entourage?  And, why don’t those folks in the far back seem mindful that you-know-who is in the house. 

Despite the wandering mikes and the enthusiasm issues, however, I’d say this shot compares favorably to Cedar Rapids. (I understand the other shot had a lot more sexual tension.  With the big finger, though, this one is much more political.)

What do you make of the appropriated “PAY HERE” device?  I can see where BushCo. thought it reinforced their Social Security agenda, or some message about fiscal policy, but it seems more than open to interpretation. 

Something I found telling is the fact that the tip jar doesn’t line up with the finger (and, that the finger points over the edge of the counter).  Of course, in real life, these alignments would be completely incidental.  In terms of “lining up” your message in a completely staged political photo, I think it’s fair game, however.  If you’ve been following the road show, Bush keeps shifting his own idea of where the dollars ultimately fall, refusing to get behind any plan that he doesn’t feel he can get through.  Of course, many of you might say that’s just politics.  To the extent he and Rove are more pathological than practical about it, however, it suggests a failure of leadership (or, at least, the failure to accept failure of the privatized accounts concept).

Maybe what Bush has on tap for social security has grown “beside the point.”

(To examine all those near microscopic details — such as Mr. Peanut — in greater detail, go here.  For content, the article link is here.  As for the caption, it reads: President Bush chatted with Catherine Bailey, center, as he waited for a cheeseburger yesterday at the Rockaway Athletic Club in Columbia, S.C.)

(image: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images – April 14, 2005 in The New York Times, p. A15)

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Michael Shaw
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