Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
June 1, 2017

Trump the Forlorn: On an Unusual Arlington Portrait

Photo: Pete Marovich/EPA via Instagram. On Memorial Day, US President Donald Trump visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, USA, on 29 May 2017. Section 60, is the burial ground in the cemetery where military personnel killed in the Global War on Terror since 2001 are interred.

We know him as a force — as aggressive and hyperactive, venomous and blusterous. That is what makes Pete Marovich’s  photo of Trump at Arlington Cemetery so shocking. Trump looks like someone took out his batteries. He looks like that daft and disheveled uncle who has to be taken everywhere and not let out of one’s site.

A new CNN story sees Trump increasingly glum, isolated and gaining weight after a grueling and contentious first foreign trip, on top of a widening rift with Jared Kushner. Giving more credence or fuel to dementia concerns, there was a widely-circulated report recently detailing how Trump’s famously impoverished speech has grown worse.

It there was ever a setting that would force Trump to idle his engine for a moment, it’s Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day. In that space, however, under the terms of mourning and reflection, maybe what we see here is Oz behind the Oz. Captured in a more diminished way, the photo lays bare how much Trump uses his combative nature, the three ring circus and his penchant for drama to distract us from Trump himself.

Maybe this is Trump with his guard down, when he is not in full bluster: the sad clown. Or maybe this is Trump, the otherwise irrepressible force, showing the full effect of six months bearing the presidential mantle. Maybe Trump, with all his noxious behavior and few healthy habits to speak of, is almost spent.

(photo: Pete Marovich/EPA via Instagram. caption: On Memorial Day, US President Donald Trump visits Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, USA, on 29 May 2017. Section 60, is the burial ground in the cemetery where military personnel killed in the Global War on Terror since 2001 are interred.)

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