August 30, 2006

Katrina Anniversary: From Tragedy To Farce


… And I’m not referring to the natural disaster of a hurricane, but the man-made disaster of a Presidency.  The White House images from Bush’s second day in the Gulf reveal a shallowness, a self-centeredness and a lack of connection that is now all too painfully visible.

Bush’s appearance in New Orleans is represented by fifteen photos on the White House photo gallery.  Excluding four shots with musicians (including the famous Fats Domino) and one professional football player, there is only one photo of George Bush with regular black citizens.

Of course, we have two by-now reflexive and cloyingly staged photos of a) classroom Laura makin’ sure dem black kids are gettin’ sum edu-cay-shun, and b) a “we are the world” group hug.

We also have a picture of George and Laura at a high school roundtable discussion with what looks like a group of white people (But wait!  The White House photo actually highlights the name card of the partially blocked discussion leader.  Whew, my apologies.  Her name is Hernandez!)  …You’ve also got to love the redundant title of the program this school was the recipient of a grant from.  According to the caption, it’s called: The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative.

Oh, and did I mention the two photos of the Vice President in the thread? 

If you’re into Bush military porn, this is a “must” for any collection.  (By the way, this shot of Chancellor Cheney — on of the best “halo” pics of the year — also supplemented yesterday’s White House gallery featuring Bush in Mississippi.)

Of more than passing interest is the White House isolation shot of Bush at yesterday’s memorial service.  (Although not exactly interactive, this is the one shot of Bush with black citizens).  As a remarkable telegraph, it seems the WH actually featured the worshipful Prez, his hands full, with a look of disgust.

Since Bush’s fundamentalism has been such a primary, if profoundly downplayed factor in his Presidency, I wanted to also include two newsire images from yesterday’s service.

Bush-Crossed-No  Bush-Bowed-No

(click to expand)

Notice, in the “crossed arms” photo, Bush also looks disgusted.  Of course, there’s no way to get into his head, but something must really be under his skin.  Given his practice holding it together during large public events, the show of mood is unusual.

Also, I don’t remember seeing newswire images that so reveal “the passion of the Bush.”  My question is: are these photos evidence that the visual press is more willing to depict Bush as an evangelical, or is this evidence that Bush, in these physical gestures, is somehow also letting down his “secular guard?”

Finally, lets turn to the shot of the Bush’s with New Orleans Saints star, Reggie Bush (who, I believe, actually heralds from Southern California).  Above, I mentioned the self-centered nature of the first couple.  One can break self-centeredness down into two different forms of narcissism, a more purely egotistical version, and a more childlike or “undeveloped” type.

This pic highlights the latter quality in the Bushes.  Diversity and difference is lost on George and Laura.  In their emotional immaturity, the only thing they are able to find in others is that which is already familiar.

(images: Jim Young/Reuters. August 29, 2006.  New Orleans Louisiana.  Via YahooNews.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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