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September 17, 2005

Can’t Lay A Glove On Him

Handsroberts1

Handsroberts2

Perhaps for lack of greater insight into the true nature of John Roberts, the NYT’s confirmation coverage seemed to focus on body language.
The first image above is from a montage of Roberts’ hand gestures, suggesting that the nominee (although remaining largely invisible) was able to control the content and pace of the proceedings. The second shot, depicting the Roberts team during a break, seemed to highlight personality characteristics. There is Roberts in a (perhaps schooled?) deliberative pose, a White House lawyer (reflecting the behind-the-scene politics) looking emphatic, and a White House operative (far right) emphasizing how the judge’s election was simply a matter of time.

As a program note, I had some video expertise available to me this weekend, so I thought I’d experiment with some multimedia. (I’m hoping most of you can view it.) (Next time, I’ll figure out how to prepare material that won’t resist my trademark red pen.)

There are two Quicktime clips. The first looks at the NYT montage, published last Wednesday, focusing on Roberts’ hands.

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The second clip, from the nominee’s final day of testimony on Thursday, focuses on the group shot of “Team Roberts,” and a montage of the excitable Senator Schumer.

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If you’re having trouble with the video, download Quicktime 7 here.

(Special thanks to Al for the videography.)

(All images by Stephen Crowley for The New York Times. image 1 and 2 (hand sequence): Washington. September 14, 2005. p. A19. image 3 & 4: Washington. September 15, 2005. p. A22.)

  • fotonique

    (Main page audio/video is a bit abrupt, especially if anyone is reading at work. Instead, you might show a couple of stills up front with optional links to the source QT videos.)

  • Kevin

    I love your analysis. And the video clips work fine for me.
    I would add: Those photos of Roberts’ hands remind me of my dad’s hands — after he died and was embalmed and laid out in his casket.
    No passion, no life, no forward movement in that man. He’s only interested in maintaining an old, dead, status quo. He’s not going to take this country forward in any way, shape or fashion.

  • The BAG

    Fotonique,
    Just revised. Thanks.

  • http://crazydaisy.us Kerstin

    Cool use of the video! I agree with Kevin. No passion in that man at all. Perhaps not such a bad trait in a judge, but a very bad trait in a husband. ;)
    While Roberts has been praised widely for his coolness under fire, I find his “firm grip” unsettling. He has it mostly under control, incl. the use of his hands. The only thing he hasn’t been able to control is the fear in his eyes. What’s he afraid of? When a kid shows that kind of fear in his eyes, he usually has something to hide. What’s Roberts hiding? Is he afraid that he might be found out? I just can’t shake the “wolf in sheep’s clothing” vibe I get when I watch him.

  • fotonique

    BAG,
    Comments on the video experiment:
    • Main page links to the QT are better, thank you.
    • Video has too much overhead: QT loading takes too long, but stills are visible right away.
    • Although the audio played, video wouldn’t play in QT6 on a Windows 98 machine.
    • QT7 audio/video ran fine on a Windows XP machine, but it’s a 32mb download, recommends 128 mb RAM, and only runs on Windows XP/2000. Windows 98 users are out of luck.
    • Users reading BNN from school, work, libraries, etc. may not be able to listen to audio.
    • Marked-up stills have better resolution and color, can be larger, and your mark-up is more visible.
    • Text and pictures work fine. Text, pictures, audio, and video are overkill (and increase the work/maintenance on your end).
    Ken Burns did it brilliantly, but otherwise watching multiple stills on video seems redundant.
    IMHO, stick to stills for main page analysis: there’s something about looking at individual moments frozen in time. If you use frame grabs from video, a simple text link to the video (to see things in context) would take up less screen real estate.
    Can you use Javascript on BNN? Simple before & after image swaps can be effective.

  • Tracy

    Mr. Bag,
    I enjoyed both videos very much. I think the first one is better because there is more camera action. If I produced 60 Minutes, I’d give you a segment.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/aog/ Annoying Old Guy

    You don’t have to be an expert on reading “body language,” as Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma claimed to be, to see that he [Judge Roberts] is perfectly comfortable in his own skin, immune to pressure.

    David Broder, Washington Post

  • Diane

    The QT worked fine for me, with my nice new computer, but did seem to turn the stills into video. Your choice, BAG. I can’t help but compare Roberts’ hands, held either “close to the vest” or “on the table” with Schumers open, expansive gestures. Very different people. I think roberts will have to do for the Supremes, and save our veto for the next one who will probably be to the right of Francisco Franco.

  • http://molly.douthett.net Molly

    It’s the eyes, man. He’s comfortable in his own skin because it isn’t his. He is a suit, a cypher, a chimera .
    He isn’t there.

  • A. Nonomus

    Beh. Judges are NOT supposed to have passion. They’re supposed to decide based on the facts and law.
    This tells us nothing except that Roberts is restrained.
    Try again.

  • http://molly.douthett.net Molly

    Okaly, dokaly, A.Nonomus. Go over to Jesus’ General. Maybe this is why he has no passion?
    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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