November 7, 2008

The Color Of Love

U.S. President George W. Bush shakes hands with staff members on the South Lawn of the White House after discussing the transition with the incoming Administration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, November 6, 2008.   REUTERS/Larry Downing  (UNITED STATES)

Eric Draper/White House

Leave it to the traditional media to capture the sentimentality of a president who will go down in history for being monumentally out-of-touch.

One thing I’m deeply thankful to be losing is Bush/Rove’s knee-jerk visual policy of representing Dubya, as much as possible, in the company of (and expressing love for) people of color. Yesterday’s “transition” (read: goodbye) meeting with employees of the Executive Office was, once again, indicative.

This first image above is a Reuters shot. It’s instant newswire candy for the strictly visual contrast in black-and-white … and the impressive chef’s hat. What is just as distinct a hallmark, however, is the race/class divide, the “hired help” message emphasized by the difference between the staff women in civvies and the lily-white uniform. (If simply a consequence of “greeting mode,” the contrast in eye contact also drives home who’s still there for who.)

The second image is one of the four White House photo gallery shots of the (otherwise largely white) event. As a Bush signature exercise of looking benevolent, we see just one more cloying shot of “W” all-too-intimately hugging a woman on a rope line. Notice how the WH photographer also frames the scene with people of color.

Well, at least the days of White House race patronization are just about over.

(image 1: Larry Downing/Reuters. White House. November 7, 2008. image 2: Eric Draper/White House)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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