Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
February 23, 2008

McCain's Ear For The Lobbyists

Mccain-Schmidt-1

Mccain-Plane

There is certainly a lot more tension now between McCain and his traveling press entourage.  If you’re tracking the pictures, in fact, it seems like the two sides (true to Mac’s short fuse and oppositional nature) are locked in something of a cold war.

If you missed it, here’s the Newsweek account from the day the NYT story came out:

John McCain’s campaign plane is usually a pretty jovial place to be. The senator, his family and aides sit in the first few rows, while the press is stationed in the back of the plane. On most days, the two sides openly mingle, with reporters sometimes able to sit close so close to the front that they can hear McCain and his aides talking strategy.

But in the aftermath of today’s New York Times story looking at McCain’s dealings with a Washington lobbyist, the mood is decidedly different. Before McCain boarded his plane, reporters were asked to sit farther back than usual on the plane. And when McCain finally boarded the plane, he failed to offer his usual wave at reporters and opted to quickly take his seat. During the flight, the cabin was unusually quiet, save a few quick discussions McCain had with top aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter.

The first shot above, taken the next day, features Mac with senior advisor, Steve Schmidt.  With the media relegated to sitting in their seats and behaving, I think this is an enormously clever dig.

Simply, it advertises the candidate — his back to the viewer, operating in that pseudo-privacy he imagines he occupies — lending himself to a lobbyist (all his senior people are lobbyists) while the pitchman talks his ear off.

The second shot is from Friday, a day later.  It shows McCain returning to the press zone, but absent the warm and fuzzy feelings.  (In a weird juxtaposition, the NYT published a companion shot atop an article speculating about the role of McCain’s age in picking a running mate.  In that photo, you get a better feel for the tension, and the new sense of separation into two camps.)  What I like about the version above, however, is how it picks up the crazy, Captain Queeg side of McCain, evoking the wounded man he is.

Update: 2/24/08 3:44 pm PST: OK, so Schmidt is not a lobbyist, just the former chief strategist for the Alito and Roberts nominations; former Cheney spokesman and former member of the Rove breakfast club.  Regardless, the visual still plays to the theme — suddenly obvious to the boys and girls on the airbus — of the insiders “having Mac’s ear.”

quote from: Stumper : McCain Flies the Not-So-Friendly Skies (Newsweek)

McCain’s Age May Figure in Choice of a Running Mate (NYT)

Captain Queeg — Notice, also from Phoenix. (Wikipedia)

(image 1 & 2: Gerald Herbert/AP. Romulus, Michigan.  Feb. 21, 2008/Indianapolis to Washington, Feb. 22, 2008. via YahooNews)

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