This was one of the two Air-Force produced publicity photos that the military released Sunday depicting McCain’s surprise visit to Iraq.
In reality, it’s one of those momentary shots that can be easily taken out of context. At face value though, it shows McCain seeming to cower as his helicopter prepares to lift off from the Sather Air Base. The effect is heightened when you see McCain’s clutching his arms and his baseball cap in juxtaposition to the cyborg-like soldier sporting what appears like a bad-ass Skull insignia on his or her helmet.
The other shot — the one the NYT ran — does more justice. But then, there is another juxtaposition to contend with. With McCain continuously reminding the electorate how safe Iraq is becoming, it’s funny to compare Mac in his protective vest with shots of Cheney arriving twenty-four hours later stepping off the plane in his business suit with his wife.
It’s not that Cheney is more macho so much as McCain (traveling with a Congressional group, having left his campaign people behind) seems out of his league when it comes to PR. As we focus more closely on McCain in the coming weeks and months, we will see a lot more examples of a man who constitutionally has to step off his own way, most of the time to his own detriment.
He’s the Republican nominee for president, after all. If McCain had more sense, he would have either coordinated with (or, counter-programmed) the White House so Cheney didn’t show him up sans safety get up, with Petraeus for a welcoming party and a secreted band of eager-to-please corporate media in tow.
Cheney lands in Baghdad — AFP story + photos
(image: Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Allen,US Air Force via AP. Sather Air Base, Iraq , March 16, 2008. via YahooNews. linked image: Gerald Herbert / AP. March 12, 2008. People help U.S. Sen. John McCain off of a baggage carousel after speaking to members of the military who are being deployed and veterans at Portsmouth International Airport in Portsmouth, N.H. via ChicagoTribune.com)