December 28, 2006

What Goes Around Comes Around



Ah, the quiet of late December!

With the re-circulation of Bush holding hands with an ailing Ford, perhaps Rove has some second thoughts about this December ’05 photo op in Rancho Mirage.  Not that any one picture or any one story makes that much of a difference, but today, this file photo only helps fire the side-by-side comparison.

Of course, there was no way Gerald Ford could have passed away – – especially in the middle of the Christmas/New Year dry well — without generating an ink factory worth of comparison with George Bush, especially on the foreign policy front.  But, leave it to Bob Woodward, White House mole and deep throat fancier, to draw Ford directly into the public referendum on Bush and the Iraq war.

Woodward spent four hours interviewing Ford in July with the agreement that the product could not be revealed until after his death.  Of course, you can find Ford’s comments swirling all around the blogosphere today.  As usual, however, what The BAG is most interested in is the visual politics, and is how the pictures offer their own words.

From the hand-holding shot, it’s just a short jump to the image accompanying the Woodward story (“Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq”) placing “38” in the Oval office alongside future Iraq invasion co-conspirators (then Chief-of-Staff) Don Rumsfeld and (then Rumsfeld assistant) Dick Cheney.

Says Ford on Rummy/Cheney/Bush:

“Rumsfeld and Cheney and the president made a big mistake in justifying going into the war in Iraq. They put the emphasis on weapons of mass destruction…. And now, I’ve never publicly said I thought they made a mistake, but I felt very strongly it was an error in how they should justify what they were going to do.”

Says Woodward on Ford on Cheney:

“He was an excellent chief of staff. First class,” Ford said. “But I think Cheney has become much more pugnacious” as vice president. He said he agreed with former secretary of state Colin L. Powell’s assertion that Cheney developed a “fever” about the threat of terrorism and Iraq. “I think that’s probably true.”

Although a visual parallel across time is inherently slanted, its emotional “evidentiary” quality often claims a veracity that overrides qualification.

And in this case, what we see here, dropped in our laps in the middle of the Iraq debate (even if someone forgot to tell the Administration there is/was a debate), is: a man in the Oval Office who actually faced up to a terminally ill war (surrounded by the guys who started the current one);  the model of a non-threatening and relatively non-egotistical man as Oval Office occupant; and, the suggestion of how a Commander-in-Chief might have actually kept these two military neophytes out in front of him, bridled up as subordinates.

(image 1: Larry Downing/Reuters.  Rancho Mirage, California.  April 23, 2006. Via YahooNews. image 2: David Hume Kennerly/Ford Library/A.P.  April 28, 1975. Via

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Michael Shaw
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