Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
February 10, 2017

Black Soldiers as White House Props, Once Again

President Trump is welcomed as he speaks to commanders and coalition representatives during a visit to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Though not as reviled as Trump, George W. Bush was also deeply unpopular with African-Americans. His brain, though (that’s what they called his strategist, Karl Rove) was convinced that the obsessive patronizing of blacks could add a few extra percentage points to Bush’s share of the popular vote. This, Rove felt, was the key to fulfilling the dream of a “permanent Republican majority.” This agenda was most obvious, often painfully obvious, in Bush’s photo ops. Almost every day brought more awkward pictures of George and Laura patronizing black citizens, especially children. (Here are just 1, 2, 3 examples from our early days.)

The photo above was taken on Monday during Trump’s visit to U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. I don’t know what the racial breakdown is on the base. To put the demographics of the photo in the larger context of the armed forces, however, the U.S. Military’s active duty population is 74.6% white,17.8% black and 14% female. Since about a third of enlisted women are black, the percent of black women overall would be under 5%.

It’s early in the Trump administration (although I know it doesn’t feel like it). Also, the chaos and disorganization in the White House — particularly the fact nobody seems to want the job of Communications Director — makes it hard to say if the racial pandering will turn into a full-blown fixation. I predict, though, that you’ll see a good deal of pictures like this one — especially in photographs of Trump with the military. Of course, a captive audience is the one he likes best.

(photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters. caption: President Trump is welcomed as he speaks to commanders and coalition representatives during a visit to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.)

 

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