December 17, 2006

Marked Men


I was interested in this slightly fuzzy, slightly presumptuous article in Sunday's NYT Mag, titled "The Vanishing."  Among other things, it attempts to explain why absolutely no one is concerned about Bush's sudden loss of authority. 

Here's the explanation:

The recent election feels like something more intimate than a personnel change. It feels like the beginnings of an escape from a twisted relationship.

Bush has governed as he promised to — with the kind of phony-demotic cocksureness that many people like in pickup-truck commercials and think of themselves as embodying. When he let it be known that he didn’t “do nuance,” it was an invitation to say: “Good. Neither do we.” But this banty self-assurance — our self-assurance — appears not such a great trait when it leads you into a bloodbath in Iraq. The feeling circulating since the election is relief — relief that this unflattering mirror is a bit closer to being taken away. It should not surprise us that this feeling is as strong among those who supported the president as among those who did not.

I don't know who the author is speaking for when he says Bush reflected "our" cocksureness and banty self-assurance.  Does someone writing for The New York Times expect "us" to do anything but laugh out loud when he cites people who like pickup-truck commercials as his comparison audience?

Still, let me stick to the main point, which is Bush's complete loss of authority.

If, in fact, the entire country desperately wishes to disassociate itself from Bush, what are the implications?  More specifically, to what extent does the authority of the government, and everyone in it, go down the drain with him? 

That's where this image comes in.  This shot appeared a few days ago on TIME's White House Correspondents Photo Blog.  Viciously demeaning, it shows General Pete Schoomaker, Chief of Staff of the Army; Admiral Mike Mullen, Chief of Naval Operation; General Michael "Buzz" Moseley, Chief of Staff of the Air Force; and General Jim Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps at the Pentagon scouting their spots for a photo op right after briefing Bush on the situation in Iraq. 

Talk about being tarnished with the big brush.  Just for the task of briefing Bush on the quagmire (or, at least, playing themselves in the TV dramatization), the intimation is that these men, like four stooges helplessly prostrated to the phony one, hardly know their own names.

(image: Christopher Morris VII for TIME.  December 2006.

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Michael Shaw
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