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December 5, 2005

Your Turn (With Gratitude)

(substantially revised; 12/6/05 10:49 am PST)



Sometimes this happens with the blogging gig.  I’ve written these images up twice now, and I don’t like what I came up with either time.

What got my attention was the fact these two two-dimensional Bushes showed up on the newswire within a day.  Visually, they really took me in.

In the first shot, the blue Bush was created by Hezbollah activists and installed in Lebanon on the Israeli border in front of the Jewish settlement of Metulla (in the background).  In the second shot, the grey Bush is in friendlier surroundings, hanging out with naval officers at the traditional Army-Navy football game this past Saturday in Philadelphia.

The BAG audience is so astute, I’m going to see what you can make of the images alone, their juxtaposition, and/or why they seem so compelling.  Thanks in advance for the assist.

(image 1: Mohammed Zaatari/A.P. Fatma Gate, in Kfar Kila, Lebanon. December 2, 2005. Via YahooNews.  image 2: Miles Kennedy/A.P. Philadelphia. December 3, 2005.  Via YahooNews.)

  • eva

    A lightning rod is someone who often “is a target of negative reactions and serves to distract attention” from other individuals or issues. When an effigy of Bush appears Lebanon, it can only sharpen the focus on many of the issues he and his administration are at the center of. The blue suit is possibly intended as irony. In the Middle East blue is a protective color, and it is considered to be the safest global color. One can read more about the cut-out and the elements around this specific image at:

  • ummabdulla

    That blue is also the color of the U.N.

  • mugatea

    These cut-outs have as much character as the subject.
    They symbolize what he really is, a facade.
    For nothing more than show and amusement.

  • The Heretik
  • Mad_nVT

    President Bush is looking pretty good in these photos, better than in real-life. The two-dimensionalness doesn’t seem to hurt, and this condition does portray his intellectual curiousity, his sense of perception and his awareness of the whole.
    But Bush does have a face that shows what is going on inside the man. And seeing these cardboard Bushes reminds me of happier times for Bush.
    It is possible that we may begin to see another face in the Bush repertoire- the unstable Bush. As the going gets rougher and tougher, Bush might wish that he could “cut and run”– but he’s got three more years in the cooker. Keep an eye on that man, we could see some fireworks. Shock and Awe.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Something is amiss with Hezbollah Bush’s body — compare the cut of the suits in both images as well as the posture and weight of both bodies. Either it’s Bush’s torso on top of someone else’s legs or it’s Bush’s head on someone else’s body. Someone who is portlier, who leads with his stomach and swings his arms when he walks, and who wears a 3-piece suit. I don’t think Bush ever wears a 3-piece suit. Also, the hands look like they are wearing white gloves. Weird. I love how enormous it is and how tiny the UN is. Bush is Godzilla.
    The crowd at the Army-Navy game look like cutouts too. Hmmm.

  • Biff Usually

    I don’t know why, but the body in the light blue suit gives me the feeling of Tony Blair. I haven’t even tried to confirm this by looking for pictures of Blair. But I just get the feeling of an Englishman in general, and Blair in particular.
    With that said, I have to agree with Mad nVT, I think the cut-outs are an excellent simulacrum of Bush, matching him for wit, talent, and compassion.

  • Jackson Street

    The two slices work through the phoniness of Bush’s flight-suit-wearing, down-with-the-troops military background.
    The blue bush could be on military parade, eyes right, marching past the grandstand, but this soldier wears the uniform of a capitalist-banker-warmonger. The grey bush on the other hand looks a little intimidated by the navymen and women; it is the picture of a rich-kid draft-dodger, and a determined hanger-on to the boo-ya crowd, who seems to be trying to stay cheery while he is being lifted up, about to be taken to the showers where he will be hung (again) by his underwear.
    The blue bush is a socialist critique–to Hezbollah, the UN is probably guilty by association with the US, and so could probably be regarded as the grandstand past which Bush is parading. The grey bush is a projection of the military’s increasing displeasure with the commander-in-chief–the same dissatisfaction that led Murtha to voice the generals’ unspoken disbelief in the Iraq occupation.
    The blue bush is a complaint about overweaning power. The grey bush is a reminder of underlying weakness.

  • mdhatter

    the cardboard man is in both instances seen with ‘the sharp end of the stick’, in a place of conflict.
    In one as mascot, in the other as bogeyman.

  • fotonique

    Does one two-dimensional effigy equal another?

    A Stronger America
    John Kerry Cardboard Cutouts

  • erthsister

    Whoo. Lots of associations here.
    In the first cut-out, my mind immediately ran to provokative interpretations.
    I was amused to notice that, from this angle, Bush is sporting a rather large, um, missile. So apparently, he has a rocket in his pocket AND he’s happy to see me. (see Mae West)
    I don’t know about the significance of the 1559 on the larger rocket, but with Bush carrying a tool of some sort (snort!) he seems to be ready to “fix” (f*** up) anything the UN has to offer.
    And on top of that, he looks awfully pleased with himself. How about that–huh?huh? I hate to tell you, Bushie, but your performance leaves something to be desired.
    I would call this one commentary, but I don’t know who constructed it and why. It just seems a little too snarky to to taken with a straight face.
    On the second cut-out, it seems to be appealing to the soldiers’ attraction to celebrity. Even if you can’t see the man in person, look! You can have your picture taken standing next to him! No security measures necessary. Bush the cut-out also appears to be much taller than Bush in person. He’s even larger than life!
    It could almost be a security-blanket cutout–Bush can’t be there to offer assurances in person, but we have this genial face to remind ourselves that Big Brother, I mean, big Bush, will take care of everything (or whatever interpretations people will draw).
    The second image almost reminds me of the large, imposing pictures of leaders that repressive regimes the world over seem to favor to reinforce their messages of authority. But Bush doesn’t lead by obvious intimidation; he seems to favor the good-ol’-boy-ness of his persona that gets him by with the average person. The cut-out is certainly more accessible than he is.
    So the first one seems to be commentary, the second one, brand reenforcement.

  • jt from B.C.

    erthsister, here is an extract from a posting suggested by eva
    The 4-meter high and 1.5-meter wide Bush wears a blue suit with an American flag tie, with a missile in one pocket bearing the phrase “danger of death” and a fountain pen in the other emblazoned with the Star of David.
    The effigy stands next to another depicting the UN headquarters in New York. Above the building, Bush is seen firing a missile representing Security Resolution 1559 toward Lebanon.
    1559 demands the disarmament of Hizbullah and Palestinians in Lebanon.
    The party’s information office said the project required 24 meters of wood and took five of its members 16 hours to make.
    The office’s director, Mohammed Jaafar, said the effigy is meant to reflect the “prevailing critical phase” in Lebanon caused by such international resolutions as 1559

  • gleex

    The only problem with these versions of Bush is that they are in 2D, I wish they would turn into 1D and he would could put him behind us in time into the past. Sadly we have a 1 or 2-D POTUS who is going to be with us into the future (as lamented above).
    Obviously image is con, and one is pro (or cult of personality as pointed out above).
    From my point of view these images of course reflect photo-op Bush, the only one we really know. I like how the con image has all the extra props, the Navy officer looks like he got ripped off, he did not get the Flight Suit attachement, the Misson Accomplished banner, or the cod-piece…he did not get any of the extra props.
    Bush is a tool, but they are using him as a toy – that likely explains why the first image has the props and the pen… to show they don’t think of it as a toy or a game.

  • jt from B.C.

    readytoblowagaket, jeez did you get new glasses or what? reviewing your “something is amiss , perhaps fotonique will help us out but until then, might this portly gentleman be “The Butcher Of Beirut” or of Sabra & Shatila fame that is now being recycled as W.

  • seachief

    Step back a level and you see two cut-outs of the same man, around each of which “dance” or “revel” the youth of (geopolitically) opposed nations.
    The question comes to mind, though probably (unfortunately) not to those youth around the cut-outs: Why does this man get to pit us against one another?
    We need to get to the level where we see nationalism as the scourge that it can be when its put to dark use. Start getting to that level by — really — seeing it in these photos.
    There are no easy answers.

  • crikkett

    In the 2nd picture, those are Midshipmen at the Army-Navy game, not officers. Officers have bigger crests on their hats, bearing eagles, and wouldn’t stand with a cardboard cutout, even at the Army-Navy game.
    Thanks for your blog, I visit often.

  • crikkett

    PS: Midshipmen are students, and are not allowed political speech that goes against their chain of command.

  • momly

    The expression on the midshipman’s face next to Bush reminded me of another picture.

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