Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 6, 2007

Flagging The Real Story

Bush-Latin-ABush-Latin-BBush-Latin-C

Our “brothers and sisters to the South,” eh?

With the President more openly recognized these days as a pure political animal, the NYT has a shot this morning that does plenty of editorializing about W’s upcoming trip to South America.  Besides offering a cynical commentary on Bush’s pretty backdrop (for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the Ronald Reagan Building), it makes a statement about two-faced posturing and extreme salesmanship.  (You can see the photo, completely intact, here with the accompanying article.)

The use of the figure to make a shadow is obviously heavy-handed.  The fact that shadow invades the U.S. and Mexico, while leaving the southern hemisphere intact, however, makes a clever subliminal statement about “spreading” Latin-related problems Bush has his back to here at home.

The more interesting effect, however, is the division between Bush and the backdrop created by the camera angle.  Because of the way we’re condition by televised effects, the pic works like a split-screen, with the “over proselytizing” Bush in “contra-position” (pardon to pun) to the Americas.

Along similar lines, I’m still thinking about this weekend’s White House “tornado photo gallery,” and this pic, in particular.

Specifically, note the map in the background.  As the White House thought about it, I imagine the symbol — of the lower states obscured — helped reinforce Bush’s “show” of support to Georgia and Alabama in time of need.  Considering the imagery in a larger sense, however, perhaps the real metaphor is that the whole “Hurricane Belt” has simply disappeared — at least, as far as this Administration is (visually) concerned.



(image: Andrew Councill for The New York Times. March 4, 2007. nytimes.com.  caption: President Bush, in Washington yesterday, spoke of “our brothers and sisters to the south” who have “seen little improvement in their daily lives.”)

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