January 31, 2007

Bush On The Other Hand


Now we’re talking.

Last week, I isolated Jim Webb’s use of a family photo during the Dem’s State of the Union resonse.  The picture, showing the Senator’s father on duty near the end of World War II, helped the Senator fuse together a family’s long military record, intense patriotism and the  responsibility of challenging the President’s Iraq campaign.  My point was that opponent’s of the war needed to go further in forging that message, more economically and emotionally, into a single picture.

The latest VoteVets.org ad, slated to run in states with Republican Senators on the war fence, is a good example of what’s involved.

Watch it first, then read the rest….

What makes this so powerful is not just the visual impact, but the perfect blending of rhetorical and somatic metaphor — hands and hands.  As the cadence builds, you keep waiting for the “other hand.”  And when you get it, you don’t exactly expect the singular, offsetting comparison with the President.

But it goes further than that, psychologically.

Notice how Loria raises his stump, moving it back and forth as he says the President’s name.  Beyond driving home a point, the gesture — for just an instant — creates almost an anthropomorphic association with the President.  With the extension obviously part of Loria’s body, but visually alien too, at the intonation of the President’s name, our sense is to wonder (just like in puppetry or in a magic show) if this object and the President have a more literal connection.

As a result, we not only think (intellectually) Bush caused this stump — we get the near-physical sensation that Bush, himself, is part of that stump, and/or he now exists where that arm doesn’t.

(still: votevets.org/Wesley Clark via youtube.com. January 2007)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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