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August 19, 2005

When George Met Cindy



The wingnuts are convinced Cindy Sheehan would be out-of-business if they could only get their hands on the full-sized versions of these photos.  Apparently, they were taken during Bush and Cindy’s original meeting, including the one showing Bush giving Cindy a peck.

(Here’s a blown-up view of the deed-in-question — if you can stand it.)

According to the Free Republic (now there’s a link you don’t see everyday on the BAG), the images had been on a site called Casey’s Peace Page but were subsequently removed. 

At first, I assumed the circulation of these images wouldn’t make much difference.  Sheehan said Bush was glib and impersonal during the meeting, and we already know he’s as avid a kisser as he is a prevaricator — especially when there are cameras around.

But then, I started to consider the power of an image; the strength (and cunning) of the right wing PR machine; and the lemming-like gullibility of a big chunk of the electorate (as well, of course, as the fact Saddam and Osama used to be roommates, and the quote–insurgency–unquote is in its last throes)….

Finally it was clear (if not already obvious to everyone else) that Cindy’s otherwise inspiring mission is not strong enough to do more than amplify mostly left-wing anti-war sentiment (and possibly provide stimulus for more broad-based questioning). 

Which ultimately means that what is needed (which has always been needed) are actual politicians to stop that man before he kisses again.  (Considering the soft peddlers that pass for Democrats, however, those finally doing the smacking down — election tactics heavily contributing — will probably be Republicans.)

(BTW, I’ve been analyzing Drudge’s visual coverage of Cindy over at The Agonist.  You can see the latest piece here.)

(image capture: freeper hipaatwo)

  • jonst

    As I have noted in other sites…waiting for Democratic Party ‘leadership’ to ’show up’is akin to waiting for Godot.

  • Kerstin

    “… the strength (and cunning) of the right wing PR machine …”
    You call being without shame or morals, having no respect for the truth, or embodying a single cell of decency or common sense, STRENGTH? They are weak men, base men, men without souls. I call it WEAKNESS.
    Then again, maybe you’re just baiting us, BAG?
    The way Bush is holding hands, turning back for the kiss on the cheek is reminiscent of a high school kid sweet on his first crush. It should be a sweet image, so why do photos of him in this position make my skin crawl? Because he’s the President and it is clearly inappropriate for him to be smooching everyone within grasp.
    He does it to disarm. Without his so-called charm, he gets nowhere.
    Cindy wrote that it took her a year from this meeting to actually think about what happened. She had picked up on bad vibes but couldn’t bring herself to ponder the implications. Is that so hard to understand? We’re all charmed by celebrity. And when it is the President and you’ve lost your son, who wants to see that meeting as less than comforting?
    The Freepers of the world can’t possibly understand this and for all the reasons I’ve mentioned. They are the liars and bullies of this world.
    Cindy has shown the country that we are all stronger than we’ve been led to believe. If one mother can inspire thousands upon thousands of candles to be lit on a single night, what else can she (and we) do?

  • PTate in MN

    Look not at the smooch but at the president’s arm. He has taken control of Cindy Sheehan’s arm and pulled her towards him. She didn’t have a choice in this. He planted a wet one on her cheek and got the photo-op.
    But taking control of someone’s arm like that, forcing her to lean in for a kiss, is a form of sexual harassment, akin to rape. Particularly coming from the power relationship of President of the US to grieving citizen.
    Sheehan reports that Bush didn’t even know her name or the name of her son. The man is a sexual predator. No wonder she felt violated.

  • JJF

    I thought they had sexual harrassment laws to protect against this.

  • The BAG

    I wasn’t referring to moral strength, but brute strength.

  • mugatea

    He’s very awkward with people. His parents probably didn’t have the time to hug him much as a child. The pictures, to me, back Sheehan’s words on her encounter with the boy king.
    The red tie surprises me, he usually wears blue when trying to be a uniter. Must of had a fund-raiser immediately after this photo op.
    He’s way into invading people’s personal space. Bald men seem to be a favorite target …

  • Kerstin

    Ah, brute strength. Well, brutal they are.
    PTate in MN ~ A female Yale classmate of Dubya’s once revealed that he couldn’t relate to women unless he was drunk. So he’s exchanged the bottle for another form of liquid charm. A blogger recently wrote that Bush was America’s Cheapest Date. I think he’s more America’s Date Rapist.

  • Paul Rosenberg

    I think it’s badly off the mark to say that “Cindy’s otherwise inspiring mission is not strong enough to do more than amplify mostly left-wing anti-war sentiment.”
    I’m senior editor at an alternative biweekly. We’ve covered all sorts of issues around the war–including the Bush Admin maltreatment of veterans. And we’ve covered real left-wing protests–such as the ANSWER Coalition sponsored marches–as well as MoveOn’s vigils (the ones this Wednesday as well as the ones just before the invasion of Iraq). The differences between those two crowds of people (despite some overlap) is dramatic, and totally obscured by this sort of comment. And that’s talking about the tiny fraction of people who actually show up for a demonstration.
    The poll numbers clearly show that something much more broadly based in going on–as does Paul Hackett’s recent surprise campaign. This only makes the MIA Dem leadership all the more pathetic–and focuses attention on the exception that proves the rule: Russ Feingold. (Now starring in the role of Godot, I suppose! What Would Beckett Do?)
    So, back to the question at hand: what would the circulation of such a picture do? At this point, I think it would only give this story even more legs.
    To quote a famous American war criminal: “Bring it on!”

  • Susan Murray

    This is off-topic….
    My emails to you keep bouncing… so, I’m just going to post here.
    Dear BAGNews,
    I’ve started a new community for criticism and analysis of ads. It’s
    really inspired by BAGNewsNotes, I love what you do there, but I
    always want to talk about the ads that I see around the city. The new
    community is called “readingimages” here is the link:
    If you have the time please check out my first post:
    Tony Sinclair: amusing oreo or return of the racist cartoon jiggabo?
    I’d love your feedback.

  • hauksdottir

    The small size of the images obscures their ages… if I didn’t know anything else about the scene, I would assume that it was a bunch of kids at a Jr Prom with a boy clumsily stealing a kiss. It isn’t mutual.
    Cindy isn’t gushing over Georgie and his attitude here isn’t respectful or dignified or sympathetic or even proper… so I don’t think she needs to worry about these iamges doing her mission any harm.

  • erthsister

    I have always been a lot grossed out by Bush’s kissing of other women than his wife. But this pic reminds me of a friend’s former husband who insisted on clinching his wife’s friends and kissing them on the cheek–and then getting all dreadfully upset and repentant if someone objected or called him on it–which only lasted until the next time. He creeped out a lot of people. He is now charged with a variety of sorrid and nasty things which I won’t go into here. Invading other people’s space was only the tip of the iceberg. This guy tried to con everyone last person around him as if they were no more than flies buzzing around his elaborate plans.
    This goes way beyond the “yuck” factor. This is a callous disregard for other’s inherant right to make decisions about their own–excuse me–physical self. I have to say I see some parallels, especially now I keep seeing these kissy pics.
    The Public Reaction might well be influenced by the number of people who are uncomfortable with those weird invade-your-space-invade-your-country vibes, whether consciously realized or not. There is something fake about the Preznit kissing perfect strangers. It’s not like Cindy is the bride, here. She’s a grieving mother, dammit!
    Does the grieving mother wants to be kissed by her minister or priest? NO? How about by the President, then? Ugh!!! Get your dirty paws offa me, Prez Boy! And poor Laura has had to repress a lotta anger about this, I’ll bet.
    Nobody wants to think of their president as a lech. But–if someone has experienced such distasteful events, one might perhaps take a dimmer view of these kisses. So I my opinion, the picture is not a coupe for the right wingers. What are they trying to say–they support the right of the President to kiss any mother he wants? Lovely.

  • Asta

    A Bush quote: “There’s only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids upon the death of their loved one. Others hug but having committed the troops, I’ve got an additional responsibility to hug and that’s me and I know what it’s like.”—Washington, D.C., Dec. 11, 2002
    I am still trying to find his recent quote about how hard it was for him to show his love to the grieving mothers of dead servicemen and women, that it was really hard work and he was kinda running low on hugs and love and all that stuff. (Paraphrasing, but that was the gist of his statement.)

  • gina


  • neko

    I suspect this picture would backfire on them. The images have Bush in the center because the meetings are really about him, pretending he cares. The families aren’t considered important. The whole point of the kissing and hugging is to show that Dubya genuinely cares. Ya know, that compassion that’s supposed to go along with his conservatism. By refusing to meet again with Ms. Sheehan he is showing that his public face of compassion is just that, a face he puts on in public.
    As for the kissing–it’s a fairly common European practice and I have to admit I’m not all that offended by it. I suspect he developed the habit during his aristocratic upbringing.

  • The BAG

    Paul, Your point regarding the impact of Cindy’s protest is well taken. However, it would be nice to see some real movement taking place from the “middle wing” of the party. Also, I’ve been a little hesitant to try and read that much from the Hackett showing. Now, if he had won, that would be a different story.
    Neko, it might be that the President will always command the center of these kinds of portraits, but I think you comment about placement still seems to ring true to me. (BTW, it was really odd to see Bush “off center” in the group G-8 photos.)
    Finally, I never paid it much attention before, but I think the comments about Bush’s kisses have something to them. Certainly, it does seem out-of-the-ordinary in light of how generally rigid and programmatic he behaves.

  • Molly

    Richard Dawson. Ick!
    The fact that Paul Hackett came within four percentage points when Bush took the district with some fantastic number less than a year ago means a lot. I know that part of Ohio; it is red to the core, especially the city of Hamilton. There are churches on every corner and not the middle of the road variety, either. This is a RED area. FOUR POINTS. It means something, trust me.

  • daveminnj

    i must reiterate what ptateinmn said.
    the kiss is secondary, perhaps conventional in a european sense. the
    arm-pull, the body language, the wet
    sloppiness of the kiss are all assaultive in this situation.
    this boy has no sense of propriety.-dave

  • james

    Errrm.. perhaps I’ve missed something, but that could just as easily be a picture of Bush leaning over to whisper something in the ear of the person next to them in an attempt not to offend someone else talking to the assembly.
    I keep seeing photos labelled as ‘kisses’ in media from all over the world that could just as easily be hugs or European, chaste greeting kisses rather than passionate clinches.

  • Desron

    “At first, I assumed the circulation of these images wouldn’t make much difference. Sheehan said Bush was glib and impersonal during the meeting, and we already know he’s as avid a kisser as he is a prevaricator — especially when there are cameras around.”
    Cindy Sheehan describes Bush as acting like some kind of monster in the below interview.
    “So when Sheehan received an invitation to meet privately with President Bush at the White House two months after her son died, the least she could have expected was a bit of compassion or a kind word coming from the heart.
    But what she encountered was an arrogant man with eyes lacking the slightest bit of compassion, a President totally “detached from humanity” and a man who didn’t even bother to remember her son’s name when they were first introduced.
    Instead of a kind gesture or a warm handshake, Sheehan said she immediately got a taste of Bush arrogance when he entered the room and “in a condescending tone and with a disgusting loud Texas accent,” said: “Who we’all honorin’ here today?”
    “His mouth kept moving, but there was nothing in his eyes or anything else about him that showed me he really cared or had any real compassion at all. This is a human being totally disconnected from humanity and reality. His eyes were empty, hollow shells and he was acting like I should be proud to just be in his presence when it was my son who died for his illegal war! It was one of the most disgusting experiences I ever had and it took me almost a year to even talk about it,” said Sheehan in a telephone conversation from Washington D.C. where she was attending a July 4th anti-war rally.
    Sheehan said the June 2004 private meeting with the President went from bad to worse to a nightmare when Bush acted like he didn’t even want to know her name. She said Bush kept referring to her as ‘Ma’ or ‘Mom’ while he “put on a phony act,” saying things like ‘Mom, I can’t even imagine losing a loved one, a mother or a father or a sister or a brother.’
    “The whole meeting was simply bizarre and disgusting, designed to intimidate instead of providing compassion. He didn’t even know our names,” said Sheehan. “Finally I got so upset I just looked him in the eye, saying ‘I think you can imagine losing someone. You have two daughters. Imagine losing them?’ After I said that he just looked at me, looked at me with no feeling or caring in his eyes at all.”"

  • pjr

    Bush is a pathological opportunist, and used the family’s grief to his own advantage by manufacturing a photo op for himself in the midst of what must have been an excruciating day for Casey’s family. There is nothing this man does that doesn’t reek of self-aggrandisement. My God how I loathe him.

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