May 13, 2005

(A Quasi-Satirical) Filibuster Update: Brother Frist and Guru Reid


After a disastrous start to the week, the party of Roosevelt picked up some visual ground on the party of God with this split NYT coverage on Wednesday. 

Shot from below, typically charismatic-as-mud party boss, Harry Reid looks, well… dramatic.  Gesturally, Reid also scores points with the left handed “peace” sign (perhaps reassuring the public that the Democrats wouldn’t think of shutting down the government).  Cleverly, the signal also indicates “victory,” telegraphing the equal promise that the Dems aren’t going down without a fight.  All in all, this showing beats the hell out of Monday’s party press conference in an empty plaza.  Still, Reid loses a couple points for the right hand, which looks like it doesn’t know what the left hand is doing (and could even be interpreted as one-half a gesture of “the one that got away.”)

In spite of the feistiness, however, the Dems seem to come up a bit short.  Along with the advantage of higher page placement (making it seem like Reid is looking up to his holy counterpart), Brother Frist pulls off a dramatic coup with this heavy-handed yet effective gesture of prayer.  Besides implying that God wants the filibuster defeated, Frist heightens the drama with the presence of a security officer.  Apparently, the message to the opposition (including moderates on his team) is: if the higher argument is not convincing enough, we can be just as persuasive on the ground.

(image 1: Doug Mills.  May 11, 2005 in The New York Times, p. A14. image 2: Matt Cavanaugh/European Pressphoto Agency .  May 11, 2005 in The New York Times, p. A14.)

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Michael Shaw
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