November 11, 2007

Bush/San Antonio 2: Looking Elsewhere … Or From Behind



(click for large size)

I wanted to follow up on Bush’s visit this week to the 100% privately-funded Center for the Intrepid rehabilitation facility, confusingly located at the Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio.

I was interested in the report by AFP that the President spent time with the wounded soldiers “killing” Iraqis.  According to the wire report:

US President George W. Bush had a shoot-out with the “bad guys” in Iraq on Thursday, playing a computer game with war veterans that simulates a firefight in Baghdad, the White House said.

Bush tried his hand at the game with two soldiers during a visit to a rehabilitation center in Texas that treats veterans wounded in Iraq.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush helped “shoot the bad guys” in a Baghdad neighborhood, albeit virtually.

She said the president saw several “cutting edge virtual reality games” that allow recovering soldiers at the center in San Antonio to simulate riding in a car or boat.

Apart from the computer game session, Bush’s visit with badly wounded soldiers was often emotional as he spoke with patients who had lost limbs or suffered severe burns in the Iraq war.

Dan Froomkin is justifiably exercised over this aspect of the visit, going off on how the gesture (although he didn’t exactly say it this way) both obscures and highlights Bush’s complete lack of experience with combat.

What is disappointing, but not surprising at all, is the photo accompanying the AFP story.  Many captions I’ve noticed on-line link this image to the gaming session.  I don’t know if that is the case, or not. All we see are soldiers in the background around a portable device.

Short of witnessing the President taking aim and firing, however, what the shot does reveal — in mocked and powerful contrast to the rest of the highly posed and composed images of the visit  — is that the Commander-in-Chief — so venerated by the soldiers in most of the images that were circulated — is no competition for attention with a handheld video game device.

And a couple more notes…

The White House photo documentation of the visit differs in significant ways from the MSM coverage.  One would never have known from the traditional media, for example, that women soldiers were also being treated at the facility.  Are there reasons the visual media (consciously or unconsciously) left out the fact?  (And why is it that the White House photographer chose to “hide” the woman’s injuries, photographing her and the President from behind?)

Also, check out this shot of Bush giving a thumb up at a “flowrider” demonstration.  Not only does it evoke a surfer chic, the impression of the woman looking admiringly on lends even more to the beach boy aesthetic.

If you would, please add any reactions to the discussion thread below at yesterday’s original post.

(image 1: unattributed/ AFP.  image 2: Eric Draper/White House., November. 8, 2007. San Antonio,

Post By

Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

The Big Picture

Follow us on Instagram (@readingthepictures) and Twitter (@readingthepix), and


A curated collection of pieces related to our most-popular subject matter.