Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
January 18, 2006

John Roberts Finally Lands

Supreme-Graphic

One thing about jamming stealth Supreme Court nominees through the approval system is that reality becomes suspend until the moment they finally go on record.  It probably wouldn’t have been as dramatic if I had just read about it, but the visual on today’s NYT cover — although no real surprise — was almost too definitive to swallow all at once.

Like you would hear that the "straight-A" eagle scout kid next door had been arrested for armed robbery, there was "Baby Face Roberts" in the middle of his new posse.  To make matters worse, the fact he’s Chief Justice and  smack in the middle of the three mugs like that somehow conveys the sense that he’s also the new ring leader.

The rest of the graphic (illustrating the Court’s decision
to uphold Oregon’s right-to-life law) has other dynamics, as well.  As
if you were organizing scrabble pieces or figuring out a baseball
line-up, did you also find yourself mentally pulling out O’Conner,
sticking in Alito and seeing what that looked like?

At the parlor game level, of course, you could do much more with this.
For example, you could start calculating longevity based on visible
signs of age.  You could also draw inferences as to character based on
facial expression and eye contact.  Yes, yes, you could do all that.
But then, at what point does it become clear that you’re back operating
in the zone of suspended reality because the picture in front of you is
just too much to want to face?

(illustration: The New York Times.  January 18, 2005.  p. A1)

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