Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
April 1, 2005

Dispatch from Cedar Rapids

Bushcedarrapids

The emotional violence from the latest round of right wing rampaging has left me feeling a little rough this hour.  (By the way, has the soul of Jesse Jackson turned up anywhere?)

So, maybe this is not the best time to bring Dubya back onto the BAG’s radar screen.  Especially since it’s somehow understood that W has no primitive instinct besides aggression.  (As if, as the un-Clinton, Bush has no sexuality.)

…By the way, isn’t that ol’ Charles Grassley back there in that corner booth, doing yet one more boring radio interview?  “Hey Chuck, don’t you want to see a menu!”

Okay, okay.  Back to the BAG. 

In fact, I have a theory about George Bush.  I think he’s basically mailing it in now.  You see, his true character was never really that ambitious.  (Remember, it was Rove who wanted him to be President.  He just wanted to be baseball commissioner.)  Of course, with that ego he’s got, it was easy to stoke him up for the elections.  He saw them like pennant races.  And, of course, he was never going to live with himself if he couldn’t beat the George Jr. thing.  But now?  Well, Dad’s been trumped (and has adopted Clinton).  Saddam’s been fished out of the barrel.  So, what does he do with no spike to the adrenaline? 

That’s easy.  He parties. 

Except, he can’t.  Not yet.  So, what’s the next best thing?  Of course, battin’ practice.  Low level campainin’.  Stayin’ on the road.  Meetin’ folks.  (Any-thang to keep outside o’ that Beltway.)

See, if you combed the latest Elisabeth Bumiller article as if you were sifting Presidential tea leaves, you’d notice that the “frisky” first traveller was out there flirtin’ like crazy and expressin’ to everybody how he’s not ’bout to be wanderin’ lonely through that Oval Office.

What you could also tell was that he wasn’t doin’ much worryin’  ’bout those crazy Euro-peans or them aya-tollahs, neither.  Instead, he was just stayin’ loose and all relaxed-like, ridin’ the heck outta that bike, gettin’ a lot of them massages, and jest runnin’ the tape — and the clock — with plenty of that Social Security blah blah blah.

(image: J. Scott Applewhite/AP in The New York Times)

  • Johanna

    I have perspective on this picture that I would like to share with you. It is related to the way I feel the media is being used for the purposes of Government propaganda – with the underlying theme that “perception is reality”.
    This picture, in its seemingly “good ole’ boy President, homespun goodness, at the local diner”, speaks to me of a darker context underlying systematic manipulation through the visual media.
    I feel a strong correlation with this picture to a prophecy:
    Here – this is what I see…
    A veil – a curtain, has been placed across the nation’s consciousness.
    And projected onto it – nostalgic reminiscences of the nations compassionate past.
    Be not deceived by this construct.

    (Nation – United States of America)

  • Quentin

    Dubya is taking something, I suspect, some prescribed medication, that is. I’ve thought so for a few months. This seems to have begun after the first debate fiasco. He assumed the telltale smile and imperturbability of a low-profile junky. Elisabeth Bulmiller is just a repugnant Repug groupie. It would never occur to her that Bush’s new-found equanimity and good cheer, which got her bubbling over with joy in a recent NY Times article, might be chemically induced. In fact she was giddy. That’s what the picture lets us see: bubbling George, the collegiate dreamboat of all middle-aged ladies, who feel the subtle force of his sex appeal, which they know has been cruelly neglected. The adage: Americans never age because they have a culture of life, as we have so graphically been told by our loving TV popes.

  • leo

    a little straightforward commentary with your hokeyness?

  • bob crane

    this is a great shot of the architypal ‘outward bush’; that role he played when he was patted on the head by MOM and dad, and plays when everyone’s looking since. it’s that inward bush in those photos circulated on the net, snide, fuckin’ pissed off, irritated and finding the situation he’s in goddamned tedious that are truly frightening. the former is purely that of an ass, the latter possibly a latent sociopath.

  • bob crane

    can one be a latent sociopath?

  • http://blog.thought-mesh.net Annoying Old Guy

    Of course, President Bush’s more upbeat mood couldn’t possibly be due to

    • Winning a heavily contest election
    • The concomittant fact that he has no more political hills to climb
    • The turning of the tide in the Middle East due to his foreign policy
    • The growing chorus of political enemies conceding the previous point

    No, no, clearly, it has to be chemically induced, because Bush isn’t a real human, just a single primitive instinct of aggression.

  • Quentin

    This picture is pure simplicity: the man, nothing more, who warms with his smile, in a diner, of all places! Can you imagine? Bush in a diner, ordering Social Security very, very well-done! A bit like Bush on the range, clearing brush.
    ‘A single primitve instinct of aggression’
    That sounds like an extreme underestimation of the man’s abilites and strengths.

  • kali yuga

    Of course, President Bush’s more upbeat mood couldn’t possibly be due to
    1) Stealing his second consecutive presidential election in broad daylight
    2) The concomittant fact that the whore media will protect him from any and all criticism and shamelessly cover for his sorry ass at every turn
    3) Having an opposition party which consists of gutless cowards and whimpering fools
    4) The knowledge that he, the Responsibility President, will never, ever, ever be held accountable for the enormous damage he is doing, ever
    Yes, I guess I too would be feeling pretty good about the eight-year ass-fucking I was in the process of handing to the “greatest nation in the world”

  • merchanna

    Quentin, your Social Security joke cracked me up, I swear! Hilarious!
    Kali Yuga, I agree, he’s got a lot to be happy about. He can torture w/o restraint, he can get all the most ridiculous buddies on his team, he can use the environment to wipe his ass, and do it all while looking like he’s got morality in spades. Makes me sick. but, I believe he will pay. Just wait and be patient, by the time he and his friends are done, they’ll be plenty to put them in the slammer for. And by that time, everyone, not just me will have had enough.

  • pragmatic_realist

    I believe that Bush has been drinking for several years. I think this is the reason for the long weekends at Camp David and the frequent vacations at the ranch.

  • aethorian

    Even the Prez gets the gnoshes once in a while.
    Too bad the buttoned suit (in a diner, yet) wipes out the down-home atmosphere. Ely’s Law says, “Wear the right costume and the part plays itself,” but wear it on the right stage. Men of the people—at least take off the tie, doff the jacket, ditch the jacket and tie, or better yet, go Rancho Ocasional. Just keep a spare set of low-demographic duds in the limo’s trunk, OK?
    Of course, like any tailored image, it’s what we don’t see (behind the scenes and outside the frame) that counts. If we could pull back for a wide-angle POV, I imagine that Bush’s entourage in Cedar Rapids looked much like President Clinton’s 1996 visit to Miss Katie’s Diner in Milwaukee, or behaved like his 2000 visit to Mike’s City Diner in Boston, but with even tighter security.
    The post 9/11 picture of America is not exactly what we once expected.

  • http://www.ireallyhatehimyouknow.blogspot.com John Lombard

    I am sick of seeing those American flag badges, too. I’d rather get substance from politicians than be hit over the head with symbols.
    It’s something I really don’t like about Bush — a touch of the Nixon, a belief that political technique is more important than policy. And, unfortunately, it’s something both sides of politics do — and why shouldn’t they? The real deal always gets clobbered.

  • -asx-

    kali yuga,
    right on — beautifully said.

  • torpedo_eight

    Yep, Bush is a moron, a total empty suit being played like a violin by background forces. Just like Reagan was a dottering old fool. And neither of them have ever got anything done, like St. Bill and St. Jimmy, bringing peace to the Middle East and all, confronting rouge nations when it was convenient, otherwise rolling over in the fetal position and waiting for a few well-deserved kicks.
    You people are sad and your behavior telegraphs the total snit you’re in because things just haven’t gone your way, have they? I have expect to hear your WHAAAAAAAA! over the speakers. “I’m gonna go in the backyard ‘n eat worms!! WHAAAAA!”
    Don’t forget to keep underestimating the opposition. It’s one of your strengths. And hey, maybe there’ll be a nuclear detonation in Denver, then you’ll all perk up?
    Hope not. Keep hoping for the worst, I know someone has to. And try not to wet yourself in anger.

  • kali yuga

    “rouge nations”?
    and wasn’t that Chicken George in the fetal position during Vietnam?
    and wasn’t that Chicken George in the fetal position during his inauguration, when he had to hide inside an enormous bulletproof encasement, and where attendants were ordered not to even look at the imperial fraud?
    and wasn’t that Chicken George in the fetal position on 9-11, hiding in a second-grade classroom and then in a bunker in Nebraska because, in his words, he wanted to “keep out of harm’s way”?
    and wasn’t that Chicken George in the fetal position in Germany last month, when a 25 mile radius surrounding the Idiot King had to be vacated of “commoners” because of his pathetic paranoia?
    and isn’t that Chicken George in the fetal position at every scripted press conference and taxpayer funded public appearance, where anyone who refuses to sign a loyalty oath is barred from attending, lest the Idiot King be asked an uncomfortable question?
    And by the way, topedo_eight, unless you’re the CEO of a fortune 500 company, things aren’t exactly going your way either. You’re just too dumb to realize it yet.

  • MonsieurGonzo

    “What did you do, during the WAR, Daddy? ”
    …image reminds me of the kind of war propaganda that for what, about a century at least ~ soldiers have yelled across the trenches or, scattered as leaflets all over their opponents: “Hey, Joe! While you were away, fighting and dying for no reason…”
    i mean, i imagine this photo nailed up on the wall of some god forsaken Marine firebase hellhole in Iraq (along with a few choice comments by your troops, no doubt :)
    hey, BAGman!
    i dareya to photoshop this thing, zap the background with a faux TeeVee bluescreen backdrop with the phrase: Working Hard to Support Our Troops repeated over and over and over (^_^)

  • Quentin

    Kali yuqa, you’re right on, sock it to them, as they used to say in olden days. If I’m not mistaken, kali yuqa will end in 2030. If so, we still have some time to go, unfortunately.

  • Quentin

    Have Bush and the woman been superimposed over the background or are they sitting in front of a mirror? I get the impression the whole setting has been staged. What a stupid remark, of course it has, completley. Have you ever met Bush in reality?

  • kali yuga

    This is definitely the Era of the Chickenhawk. Gutless cowards like Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. and thousands of chat-room heroes like Annoying Old Guy, torpedo_eight, etc. boasting about defending America from the grave threat of a less-than-third-rate power that never attacked us, didn’t possess the weapons to do so, and didn’t even have a military presence capable of putting up even a token resistance as the world’s premiere bully waltzed into its key city. What a pathetic lot these Banana Republicans are, cheering on the butchering of thousands of innocent civilians by our hired thugs.
    Yes, these truly are days to be proud of your country, America.

  • http://zencomix.blogspot.com/ zencomix

    Chemically induced Happy Bush? Well, that’s another possible reason for Laura’s trip to Afghanistan.Gotta restock…I hear it’s another bumper crop for the Opium Crowd. They don’t call him “Poppy” Bush for nuthin’

  • torpedo_eight

    Predictable responses. Sucks to be you.
    Keep up the name-calling and the conspiracy theories, maybe get Michael Moore to do another movie. It all paid off in spades, didn’t it?

  • kali yuga

    Sucks to be me? Sucks to be any post-Enlightenment, reality-based, thinking person who is going to have to try and survive in the post-democratic, apocolyptic, faith-based world of Jesusland.
    Better, I guess, to be someone like torpedo-eight, who operates under the illusion that he’ll be spared the fascist boot by furiously servicing the stormtroopers.
    Nah, I’d still much rather be me.

  • http://disaffecteddems.proboards3.com/ moses

    It’s an interesting picture because Bush and the woman are obviously coming on to one another, but his body language says: “I’m a player and I’ll dump you after one roll in the hay”.
    She’s got her boobs right up next to him and his arm and shoulder are rubbing up next to her, and he is leaning into her, and giving her the (he thinks) irresistable “player” seduction look.
    But, at the same time, he is rejecting her, as while his body leans in, rubbing against her boobs, and his eyes meet hers with a lewd and lascivious look, he faces away from her. Classic seduction-rejection of the sadistic player, I think.
    Any other body language anaylists out there?
    He’s really yucky!!!! Ewww.

  • Asta

    (I’m new here but I really love this website. So many creative minds here, it’s a joy!)
    My first impressions: George is a cardboard cutout, like you see of celebs in the theatre lobby. The woman is placing him in the booth to lend some semblance of “realness” to the scene she is creating.
    It’s a stock photo from an old movie. It’s Robert Cummings in the movie Saboteur and he doesn’t know he will be in really deep trouble soon. He’ll order the chocolate sundae with the cherry on top.
    George is wearing stage makeup. He has lip gloss on, and pomade in his hair. He wants to be a movie star, maybe he will be discovered if he hangs out at this diner on Wilshire Blvd.

  • torpedo_eight

    Maybe later Bush can hold onto Grover Norquist’s sleeve while it rips away from his coat and he falls to his death from the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
    Would that make you feel better?

  • Asta

    Actually, I’ve been feeling very well lately, but I appreciate your concern, Torpedo8. That’s very sweet of you.
    Saboteur is one of Hitchcock’s early films and is not one of his best known. It’s obvious you’ve seen it because you remember the scene when Frank Fry falls from the Statue of Liberty. Did you also pick up on the theme of patriotism throughout the movie? In fact, there’s so much patriotism, you could almost say it was a propaganda film and not an innocent-man-on-the-run thriller.
    You have to hand it to Hitch, though, for understanding the power of imagery and symbolism. I think it would be a lot of fun if the owner of this site did a critique on how Hitchcock made such an impact on the audience for over 60 years.

  • torpedo_eight

    Hitchcock’s themes did such a number on America we never quite recovered. I did not realize it until recently, but after Psycho, Americans started showing up for the movie at the appointed show times. Before that, people used to wander in and out of movies, pick them up in the middle, watch the first half – then split. Sounds nuts now, but it was common.
    Hitch knew if people came in too late, they’d miss Janet Leigh completely, so he insisted no one be seated after the movie started.
    Whether it was falling from great heights, suspicions your favorite uncle’s a murderer, or just fear of police – Hitchcock found a way to scare the crap out of people by what he showed them – and what he didn’t show them.
    And some of the early stuff is still the best. I like “The Lady Vanishes”. Talk about patriotism. Same thing with “North by Northwest”. Consider the time and you’ll understand the man’s POV.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes