June 15, 2008

Elevating Carly (Or, Trying To)


(click for full size)

The McCain campaign’s promotion of former HP CEO Carly Fiorina as not just the female face of the Mac express and V.P. candidate poster girl, but most recently and hilariously, inheritor of Hillary love, reminds me of this shot that was floating around about six weeks ago.

In it, we see CF on her cell phone on the McCain bus/conference room/shrine to straight talk, while on the TV, we see a FOX news report about the Israeli bombing of a reactor site in Syria.

I had a couple thoughts about the shot.  First, although campaign higher-up Charlie Black is sitting in the back of the bus (which you can hopefully see in this version with John Bolton on the screen), the image above got more play, conveying the sense of CF as a singular presence on the team.  (Certainly, the relaxed body language with the cell phone lends all kinds of weight in the shot-calling department.)

So, what’s the most interesting thing about the pic? …No, it’s not how it lends more credibility to bomb-bomb-Iran. It does have to do, however, with the juxtaposition between Fiorina and the scene on TV.

A critic could say that by framing Carly in this authoritative position, the high stakes Middle East gamesmanship only calls out her lack of political experience — and lack of legitimacy as a V.P. choice.  I don’t think that’s how visual politics, and the Republicans, however, necessarily work.  I believe, once you combine these elements into one picture, and then repeat that message enough times in enough different ways, it creates an equivalence, eventually conveying the impression that Carly (like Bush and Condi, circa 2000) could handle anything.

Angry Clinton Women McCain? (Frank Rich)

McCain, Obama Reaching Out to Female Voters (plus, check out pic) (WAPO)

(image:  Mary Altaffer/AP.  April 24, 2008.  New Orleans)

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.


Comments Powered by Disqus