May 29, 2008

McClellan's Cover


I have a few points and a few questions about the cover of McClellan’s attack tome.

What is telling is how — just like the recent TIME 100 portrait of Bush by Christopher Morris — it conveys a revised “visual vocabulary” of Bush as: detached, isolated, dark, and in the dark.  (The additional element here is the man as a cowboy.)

As Bush gets closer to retirement and completely losing the aura of the White House — and as the bubble further breaks down (as evidenced, for example, by McClelland’s book) — It seems a more unvarnished (and far less intimidated) pictorial conceptualization of the man, his character and his deceit is starting to take hold.

What I find thoroughly disingenuous, though (as Matt Cooper points out), is the cover’s intimation that McClelland ever reached out across that darkness and confronted Bush while on the job.  If Bush, in this shot from the ranch, is hearing something he doesn’t like, I’d assume it has something more to do with where Scotty parked his car (or else, what a reporter was harping on that morning) than whether, say, Scotty felt Rove was lying to him.

The element I have questions about — and I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on it — has to do the gender element.  Beside the fact that Condi happened to be standing behind Scotty, and Laura, I’m assuming, was behind George, it’s curious how the women function on this cover, especially with the black-and-white treatment.

(Update: 6:13 PST. 5/30 – 

As I’ve been thinking about this image over the past 24 hours, I now have a very different take on it. I believe my original comments were overly affected by the MSM reaction.  At this point, I feel it’s important to read the image in the context of McClellan’s act, not just of writing and publishing the book, but of taking his case public at a point where most everyone else (beyond the far left) continues to cowtow to the Administration.  Like commenter mjfgates writes: “The cover is an accurate reflection of what the book WANTS to be: McClellan, confronting Bush and winning.”

In this light, Mclellan’s gesture, no matter how qualified in its historical context, today reads as “putting it to the cowboy.”

(photo credit: still working on it)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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