Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
April 8, 2008

Betray Us II

Mccain-Petraeus

This handy image was floating around the newswire this AM, showing McNasty last September going off about the MoveOn General Betray Us ad.  Wearing his NAVY hat against the stars-and-stripes while clutching tight to his cue cards, McCain used the piece of paper as a simple, black-and-white example of sedition.

Let’s look, again, at this image-within-an-image which the Repubs threw back at the ad’s title.  It shows Petraeus in the halls of Congress, occupying the same background we’ve come to associate with high elected representatives.  In it, Petraeus is framed as an authoritative spokesman for the government, a warrior who has conquered that body with his words, and by the symbolism and authority of his uniform, has overwhelmed the Capitol.

Forget for a moment that Petraeus and the Administration have undermined the Pentagon’s chain-of-command and implemented its own insurgent force within the Pentagon.  The inset image demonstrates that, by way of the executive and media authority vested in the General, Petraeus — the political foot solider for the White House — ultimately trumps the Congress (hearings, or no hearings) when it comes to the occupation.

There’s another element to this image, however, that hold even stronger bearing on today’s hearing.  With McCain, Clinton and Obama scheduled to question Petraeus, look how McCain, microphone in hand (and beyond the distraction of the MoveOn move), holds up the general as his own prop.  If you take a look at this morning’s NYT image showing McCain and his strategists hatching strategy around today’s testimony, it’s easier to see how much the hearing represents more political theatre than anything else, with all three presidential contenders — scoring points here, but taking tactical caution not to go too far over there — are using Petraeus for their ends, as much as Petraeus is using Congress for his.

4:15 PM EST/Update: Case in point… with pretty picture of BHO: Iraq Hearings Rife With Political Overtones

(image: Brett Flashnick/AP.  September 15, 2007.  Florence, S.C.  via YahooNews)

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