April 24, 2009

Cheney: Somehow Still Top Drawer

Cheney signs drawer.jpg

The NYT used this photo today in its on-line Politics section promoting its latest Cheney update, the accompanying title reading: Unapologetic, Unrestrained: Cheney Unbound.

I’m interested in your take on this photo, as well as why it surfaces now. As the Getty caption describes (below), you see Cheney — as a ceremonial last act in office — leaving his signature on the inside of his White House desk drawer.

Has Cheney — the architect of the Bush foreign/terror policy, and “the” force to be reckoned with for most of the decade — embedded himself so powerfully into the political woodwork that he commands authority and weight in perpetuity? And if that is not the case, what is this tendency — at the exact moment Cheney’s torture agenda begins to officially unravel — to ensconce this man in the White House in regal alignment with political figures throughout the ages (such as Teddy Roosevelt). …I don’t know. Maybe the answer is to simply remind us (like we need reminding!) of Cheney’s hubris and institutional power?

And then, I can’t help but notice how the immediate audience — including members of the media, otherwise right in front of Dick and snapping away — appear in the ornately gilded mirror, as if they couldn’t be more thoroughly separated, distant, contained — and “framed,” of course.

The actual photo in the NYT article brings to mind a similar question of “aura.” See our discussion at BNN last month:

(image: David Bohrer/White House via Getty Images. caption: This official White House photograph shows US Vice President Dick Cheney signing the inside of the top drawer of his desk in the Vice President’s Ceremonial Office on Monday, January 12, 2009 at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. The desk, constructed in 1902 and first used by President Theodore Roosevelt, has been signed by various presidents and vice presidents since the 1940s. Mrs. Lynne Cheney is seen at right.)

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Michael Shaw
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