Certainly, the story created an interesting photo editing opportunity. The news was that first term Senator Johanns of Nebraska, having grown sick of the slimy ways of Washington, had deciding not to run again.
Of all the possible photos, here was the one the NYT pulled from the file to illustrate it’s story. Sure, the picture was taken in 2011. Even still, you could almost imagine the disillusioned Johanns calling in the visual media, placing himself in a corner, and then casting down his gaze as if to say: “for shame.”
There are two problems with that narrative, however, one political and the other practical. The first is that any disgust or disappointment on the Senator’s part only serves to highlight something the public is already thoroughly aware of — that Washington knows no shame. The second is created by the reflection of the photographer in the mirror. To the extent the photo is at least superficially meant to portray an act of conscience, moral character and, yes, sadness, this city and it’s media typically preys on sentiment and high mindedness as a lack of toughness, embracing the opportunity, rather, to capture one more guy falling off his horse. (Or, crying in his beer.)
Regretfully, as another moderate is driven to the sidelines making the Senate and our politics still more rife for the crazies, what we deserve is a photo that illustrates the madness. What we’re offered up instead is a trick shot, and something closer to a portrait of naiveté.
(photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images caption: Senator Mike Johanns, pictured here in 2011, announced on Monday that he would not seek re-election.)