Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
March 8, 2007

Hail To The Chiefs

Ford-Rockefeller  Reagan-Bush-2

Reagans-Bushes-1  Cheney-Libby-Naval

(click for full size)

In light of Lewis Libby’s conviction for perjury, just how close was Scooter to Dick Cheney, how did Cheney weigh the political value of the relationship, and where did it fit in relation to Cheney’s perception of himself in the Administration?

If the way we choose, organize and assign importance in arranging photographs informs any of these questions, consider the four “couples” photos juxtaposed in this White House Historical Photo Essay once the Cheney’s moved in to the Vice President’s Residence in the former Naval Observatory.

Directly quoting the captions, the four images (left to right) show:

1.  Then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller (right) and his wife Margaretta Murphy (second on left) entertain then-President Gerald R. Ford (left) his wife Betty (second on right) and their daughter Susan (center) at the Naval Observatory on September 7, 1975.

2.  Then President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan spend an evening with then Vice President George H.W. Bush, Barbara Bush and their dog C. Fred at the Naval Observatory Feb 12, 1981.

3. Sitting in the first floor library of the Naval Observatory, then-Vice President George H. W. Bush, second on right, and his wife Barbara Bush, left, talk with then-President Ronald Reagan, second on left, and Nancy Reagan, right, Feb. 12, 1981.

4. President Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney entertain Vice President Lewis Libby (left) and his wife Harriet Grant (second on right) and former Vice President Dan Quayle (right) and his wife Marilyn Quayle (second on left) in the first floor library at the Naval Observatory Dec. 4, 2001.

Oops, did I say “President” Dick Cheney and “Vice President” Lewis Libby?  My apologies!  The actual text reads: Vice President Dick Cheney and Chief of Staff for the Vice President Lewis Libby.

So, here are a few questions.

Had the Bush 43’s simply not made it over to the Naval Observatory at this early point in the Administration? Were the Cheney’s launching a new “Proud to be Vice-President” tradition? Or, could the image selection be indicative, early on, of Cheney’s true place in the Administration?  (If that’s the case, perhaps Cheney — having served as White House Chief Of Staff under both Ford and Bush 41 — finally fancied himself as Commander-In-Chief, the choice of photo imagining him in the role of Bush 41, with Bush’s profoundly weak V.P., Quayle, as his V.P., in the company of right hand, Libby, as the President’s Chief of Staff.)

Given the historical richness, periodicity, and social dynamics of these photos, I invite you to take “the data” as far and as wide as you’d like.

Vice President’s Residence Historical Photo Essay here.



(image 1: Gerald  R. Ford Library.  image 2 & 3: The George Bush Library. image 4: David Bohrer/White House.  Via whitehouse.gov)

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