February 1, 2006

State Of The Union In Pictures




Is Bush in reruns?

Because he reprised the same device from last year’s performance (State of the Union Show – link), I was intent on studying Bush a little closer this time.  First, the President introduces the family of a soldier killed in his elective war, Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Clay.  (Of course, the entire scene is accompanied by prolonged and thunderous applause.)  Then, the camera focuses on Mrs. Bush as she reaching out to the mother of the deceased soldier.  (Without depending on Laura for warmth, this was a lot more dramatic last time around.)  Then, there is a close-up of the incongruously grateful family.  (For variety, this scene included the soldier’s widow, Lisa.)  And that’s when we get the isolated shot of Bush staring proudly and admiringly toward the balcony.  (I know I caught him blinking, but you get the picture.)  Finally, we get another isolation on the family.  More time elapses.  More applause.

The thing I missed last year, however, but I managed to pick up this time, was Bush’s expression right before he resumes his speech.  Can you believe that smug look  — like the post-adolescent-in-chief takes the moment to feel proud of himself?  (It’s in a look like this that you can imagine he really did go to war to show up Poppa and Saddam.)  (In fact, did you catch his odd little quip about  splitting his father’s affection?  He said: “This year, the first of about 78 million baby boomers turns 60, including two of my dad’s favorite people: me and President Clinton.)

I know it’s purely my projection, but the barrel roll the camera gives to the television picture made me think for a second the flag behind Bush was draped over something.  (The whole horribly exploitive act led me to conjure a pine box.)


So, more scenes.

It appears Rove will hardly let Laura appear in public anymore unless she’s in the company of an African-Americ youth.  In this case, her seat mate, Ja’Detrus Hamilton of Leakesville, Mississippi, was living in a mobile home even before the hurricane.  (To his credit, the high school student has been engaged in recovery work ever since.)


Hillary, Hillary.  Every time I lend her space, the readership wants to dismember her.

Still, I’ll tell you why I like this picture (besides the fact Blanche Lincoln looks like she’s asleep.)  Hillary is so intensely self-conscious, it’s rare to catch her in a spontaneous moment.  I don’t imagine Clinton bothered to read Bush’s speech in advance.  So, when he introduces the ridiculous “Terrorist Surveillance Program” (Rove’s “give it a brand name” gimmick for finessing Bush’s illegal spying effort), just at the point where he insists it’s “based on authority given to me by the Constitution and by statute,” Hillary cracks up.  (For this, the wingnuts will fry her for disrespect.  To me, however, it was refreshingly uncalculated.)


I grabbed a couple shots of Louisiana’s Governor Blanco.  Unfortunately (given Bush’s stategy to pin any and all Katrina failure on local Dems), this was the “happiest” version I could come up with.


You know how the networks will isolate on relevant people based on specific content in the speech?  This was the slam dunk choice.  At the point Bush was going on about health care, we got a nice isolation shot of Majority Leader Frist, (R-Big Pharma).  By the way, I’m not sure if this occurred before or after Bush drew wild applause from the Dems after beginning: “Congress did not act last year on my proposal to save Social Security….”



Interesting sequence here with Bush moving through the audience following the speech.  I kept wondering if he was going to acknowledge Santorum or not.  (What’s that expression about Repubs eating their young?)  If he wasn’t a complete cancer on the institution, I might have felt sorry for Rick for trying to get W’s attention.  Anyway, this guy is toast.


There weren’t too many people in the crowd that GWB stretched this far to acknowledge.  Don’t tell me Bush doesn’t recognize a player when he sees one.  He may be a work in progress, but watch out for Obama.

(images: CNN.  State of the Union Address.  January 31, 2006.  Washington, D.C. Laura Bush image: Jason Reed/Reuters.  January 31, 2006.  Washington, D.C. Via YahooNews.)

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Michael Shaw
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