Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
September 4, 2005

The Week America Lost New Orleans: A Presidential Retrospective (#2)

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Katrina Disaster — Day 2

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Still Tuesday.  George is backstage at the Naval Air Station in San Diego holding a "Presidential guitar" given to him by country music singer, Mark Wills.

By the time I see this shot in the afternoon, I am profoundly aware of the cataclysm on the Gulf Coast.  The image itself has gone viral, rounding the liberal blogosphere as evidence of a President fundamentally out-of-tune with reality.

Filled with horror from the Gulf pictures, I see all kinds of dynamics in the shot.

First, it’s hard not to register Bush’s care-to-the-wind attitude.  If he’s aware of what’s transpiring in the South — even if he’s feigning non-chalance — I expect to see more tension in his body.  Instead, he’s just casually looking off.

Second, I am fascinated by the way Bush relates (or fails to relate) to Wills.  Of course, as has been noted many times at the BAG, one must be careful about drawing too many conclusions from any one instant in time.  The interaction between these two men, however, seems indicative of many fundamental problems with Bush.

For instance, it seems Wills (like other Presidential advisors) has
instructed Bush on a procedure, and has been thoroughly specific as to
how to properly carry it out.  Bush, however, seems to ignore both the
adviser and the advice.  In response, Wills (like a Richard
Clark, or a Joe Wilson, or a General Shinseki) sees Bush "getting it
wrong" and and tries to remediate Bush’s handling of things.  (Notice
the concentration and precision Wills directs to the execution.)
Still, Bush remains oblivious — even though his hand, in playing a G
chord, is set one fret too high.

Third, I’m interested in seeing Bush handle this instrument. Does he
know how to play it — even a little? (Or does it reinforce that "W" is
mostly about gesture?) It reminds me of all the puffed up reports
summarizing Bush’s reading lists. He is constantly portrayed as someone
who applies himself intellectually and creatively in an informed way.
But if it were really the case, why would the White House constantly
need to make a point of it?

Fourth (although probably innocuous), I can’t help seeing
Bush’s left finger as forming a blasphemous sign. But then, isn’t it
also characteristic of Bush — as alluded to above — to resent being
corrected or told what to do?

Lastly, I am fascinated by the enchantment of the woman at the
far right. Although Bush’s ruling (and overruling) nature continues to
repeat itself, often to the most tragic of consequences, it’s a wonder
how people continue to respond with delight.

(musical credit: Al)

(image: Martha Raddatz — AP/ABC News.  August 30, 2005, 2:56 PM ET.  San Diego, CA. At YahooNews.)

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