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January 13, 2006

Throw Me Something, Mister!

Bush-Mardi1

Given the way the Alito coronation confirmation hearings played out this week, Thursday’s Bush Mardi Gras portrait at least provided some comic relief.

Bush-Mardi2

Maybe the White House advance team was a little lax, or maybe they just aren’t that concerned anymore. Either way, Bush ended up in this campy room for a photo-op New Orleans business roundtable.  Of course, the newswires were all over angle B.  Not having a lot of options, White House photographer, Eric Draper, ended up working angles C and A.

Bush-Mardi-3

As you can tell, Angle C was a bit problematic.

Besides the President facing "Red White and Blue Puppies," there was
all that dead space: the weird temporary screen; the glare; a scale
that made Bush and the business leaders look like a bunch of midgets;
and the suggestion — in light of the twenty foot Louie Armstrong –
that Bush had made the trip down just to blow his own horn — which is
basically the way the NYT called it, anyway.

The specifics of the shot are even stranger still.  Maybe Draper was looking for a gesture from Bush so you knew exactly which midget he was.  The way it reads though, it seems "W" is raising his hand for permission to speak (or use the men’s room).

Bush-Mardi4

And this is the shot the White House got out of angle A, avoiding the
reveler in exchange for the Elvis guy.  This shot is "off" also,
however.  Bush is doin’ his gesticulatin,’ but Mayor Nagin forgets to
play along.

Bush-Mardi-5

The shot of the week, however, is the one with the "reveler."
In this version, the figure, tossing around the signature beads, is an
obvious Mardi Gras reference.  That being the case, we’re not looking at Bush alongside just any
character.  Consistent with ritual, this figure stands for the local
tradition of masking and costuming oneself.  Given Bush’s tendency to
do the same, the figure — at least to a New Orleanian — would suggest
the comparison.

The other local association to the traditional green, purple
and gold figure involves the glorification of paganism.  While Bush
outwardly professes a straight-laced lifestyle, the reveler could just
as well reflect his alter ego.  And I’m not just referring to the
protracted Spring Break that was Dubya’s youth.

Whether the focus on governmental inebriation takes the form of
deficit spending, pandering to special interests, indulging corruption,
abusing power, or carrying on an orgy of militarism, the resonance
between these two characters arises from the fact Bush has transformed
the Presidency into his own personal Carnival.

White House Photo Gallery here

NOLA Photo Gallery here



(images 1 & 2: David Grunfeld /Times Picayune.  January 12,
2005.  New Orleans, La.  nola.com.  Images 3 & 4: Eric Draper/White
House. January 12, 2005.  New Orleans, La. whitehouse.gov).  image 5:
Larry Downing/Reuters.  January 12, 2005.  New Orleans, La.  Via
YahooNews.)

  • Mad_nVT

    Great photos, great commentary.
    In first photo there is another aspect besides the Carnival character. There is the picture of the demented robber, stealing your money, and smiling all the while. Focused, determined, playing the happy roll, and . . . . . stealing your money. That is the Bush of days-gone-by, the first years of his Presidency.
    In the foreground is the current President– unhappy, dazed, confused, unfocused, unthinking, going-through-the motions, and wishing that he were somewhere else.
    Both aspects of Bush are dangerous.

  • marysz

    Bush’s handlers (Rove/Hughes?) were more interested in manipulating the Alito hearings this week than in dealing with Bush. Once the right-wing has SCOTUS stacked in their favor, they can dispose of Jr.; he’s more of a lame duck every day. Could this bizarre photo-op signal that Bush is being thrown overboard?

  • http://theheretik.us/ The Heretik

    MS, in a few of the pictures of Bush down in Katrina Country it looks like Bush is trying to get a grip.
    The disconnect is staggering. Oy.

  • http://peoplegetready.blogspot.com schroeder

    Ditto – excellent analysis. I was impressed with what seemed like an obvious mockery of monkey boy by press photographers. Love the title as well. We here in New Orleans feel like we’ve been showing our tits to the nation for years now, and all we got was a cheap throw of plastic beads from the Bush administration.

  • Juan Mexico

    The green, purple and gold “reveler” appears to be operating President Bush like a ventriloquist’s dummy.

  • http://happening-here.blogspot.com/ janinsanfran

    Are they making his hair whiter to try to give the guy more gravitas? Kind of looks like it lately.

  • Cactus

    In the top photo, it’s too bad the photographer couldn’t get W. grinning that silly would-I-lie-to-you grin. It would be a perfect match to the clown.
    In the bottom one, I love the play between W’s hand and the clown hand behind his head and the halo of beads just about to fall on his head.
    In the WH site, I was surprised to see they had the b…s to include a shot of W in the plane! Is Rove still calling the shots??
    Also, the black drop is a big clue that the import of this meeting is, once again, photo op, and not NOLA. When will we ever learn……..
    Anyway, good call, BAG, and interesting notes.

  • http://bibliosquirrel.blogspot.com san antone rose

    Puppies? Uh, no. That painting is “Me, Myself, and I in Louisiana” by Cajun artist George Rodrigue of the Blue Dog series fame.
    I see the placement as ironic in that the dogs are set in a Cajun outdoor scene, under oak trees. Inhabitants. Staring intently and accusingly at Bush while he dismisses a part of South Louisiana as a “heck of a place.”
    Perfect puppies.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/error27/ error27

    Bush and a clown. Compare and contrast. Bush has a smaller head.
    The contrast between Bush and Nagin is interesting as well. Bush has his clasic lopsided smile. He’s waving his hands. He’s drinking his tea with the sugar pot and jug of cream in front of him.
    Nagin doesn’t want to be there. He’s looking at the camera like, “Can you believe this guy?”

  • Mad_nVT

    In these photo op session when Bush is doing the “listening”, he is tuned out. Nothing much happening in the brain cavity.
    But when he is doing the talking, these photo-ops seem to indicate that he is telling stories or anecdotes. His gesticulations show story-telling, not weighty matters like death and destruction.
    The grey hair may come from gravitas-induction, but overall it looks more like levitas-leadership, as in the Bubble Boy posts that BagMan put up here on December 12.

  • readytoblowagasket

    I’m not as interested in Bush here as I am in the attendees (other than the mayor and lt. gov.). Can anyone ID the alleged “small business owners” who attended this cozy “roundtable discussion”? I don’t know these people by sight and the captions don’t provide many names, which makes me suspicious. There are only 9 people, most of them white men.
    One person is Boysie Bollinger, who owns a not-very-small ship-building/repair business based in Lockport (with 12 divisions in LA, 2 in TX, etc.) and who has been a long-time Republican activist/donor/fundraiser. To get an idea how extensive his reach is, here’s some info:
    http://www.bringneworleansback.org/Portals/BringNewOrleansBack/portal.aspx?tabid=13
    A photo from the NOLA photo gallery of Bush holding Bollinger’s face in his hands while they speak is bizarre, but worth paying attention to for the display of familiarity (intimacy) between them.
    http://www.nola.com/katrinaphotos/tp/gallery.ssf?cgi-bin/view_gallery.cgi/nola/view_gallery.ata?g_id=4933
    There’s more going on at this meeting than it may seem at first glance. This is a Republican insiders meeting.

  • lemondloulou54

    I’m just hoping there’s some mojo in that Carnival image that infects Bush with the Asian flu or something. I suppose these days I could go to jail for writing that. . .

  • moss

    I hate the stupid effing “blue dog” paintings. They were the worst of the gimmicky art that the Quarter seemed bent on producing. Visions of soggy, ruined, blue dog canvases made me smile.

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