The NYT was right and fair to publish this photo in spite of the “rebuttal meme” that these are different guys who can’t simply be lumped together. Looking at the optic, I don’t think you get the sense at all they are clones as much as you get the feeling — captured by the inside chatter going on between the men while receiving the applause (combined, of course, with what we know of their cocksure personalities) — that they are both players.
To the extent they are both ardent conservatives who bring a fundamentalist ideology unapologetically into their politics, who operate with an unmeditated swagger expressive of and mutually credited to their hailing State (that attitude contributing generously to to all kinds of missiles raining down on the U.S. economy and America’s international credibility, 2000-2008), the photo, with all of its symmetry (Dubya and Perry at the base of a big “U”) not only deserves to be circulated, but should be kept in full view through Campaign ’12 as a legitimate point-of-caution, if not out-and-out red (white, and blue) flag.
(photo: Larry Downing/Reuters NYT caption: Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and President George W. Bush at a campaign event in Dallas during the 2002 midterms. Article: Twang and Job Title Might Be the Same, but Perry and Bush Keep Their Distance (NYT))