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August 29, 2006

Katrina Anniversary: The New Paparazzi

Bush-Kessler

(click for full size)

In spite of my partisanship, I didn’t expect the first White House Katrina anniversary shot to be quite this pathetic.

Obviously, Bush is in an incredibly weak position on Katrina, but I have yet to see Rove — characteristically defiant when the chips are down — pull back or get this defensive with the visuals.  (Just more evidence, I believe, that these guys are spent.)

Until late last week, the Administration’s strategy was to organize Bush’s Gulf trip around the reconstruction effort and dollars expended, framing Bush in front of government-funded renewal projects.  Perhaps sensing a perceptual disaster, however, BushCo. switched tactics at the last minute, deciding to identify itself, instead, with the classic American “can do”/survivor spirit.  (A little projection there, maybe?)

It’s expectable Bush would first dive into the old well, seeking safety and credibility by wrapping himself in the military at Mississippi’s Kessler Air Force base.  At the same time, I’m surprised by the shallowness of this shot, actually turning a (ethnically-balanced) group of soldiers into paparazzi in order to manufacture a sense of popularity.

Katrina aside, could there be a more damning exhibit of the exploitation of military loyalty?

(image: Eric Draper/White House.  August 28, 2006.  Biloxi Mississippi.  whitehouse.gov)

  • http://www.theunapologeticmexican.org Nezua-Limón Xolografik-Jonez

    What a disgusting photo. This administration is not one iota different than the propaganda masters of ye old fascist states. I mean that absolutely literally. And this image brings it home. What a happy happy joy joy suckfest of smiles and lenses. I’m glad they’re all havin’ such a grand ole time. You’d almost expect to see Hallmark® making new Happy Bloated and Ignored Bodies in N’orleans Day! cards.
    1. Shadowy faceless figure stands behind Bush. “The man who holds the strings” comes to mind.
    2. Love how the crowd is hemmed in by two men wearing shades. One on the left, one on the right….as if it’s a movie set, or some fake, propped-up happening that must be closely observed. By non-involved players.
    3. Ethnically diverse is right. And it looks completely arranged.
    Too bad War Criminal Bush couldn’t have gone to so much trouble, expended so much energy when the TV was yelling out MOST OF NINTH WARD NOW UNDER WATER!!!!!!!

  • http://www.theunapologeticmexican.org Nezua-Limón Xolografik-Jonez

    “Here’s the story you haven’t been told. And the man who revealed it to me, Dr. Ivor van Heerden, is putting his job on the line to tell it. [...] IEM and FEMA did begin a draft of a plan. The plan was that, when a hurricane hit, everyone in the Crescent City would simply get the hell out in their cars. Apparently, the IEM/FEMA crew didn’t know that 127,000 people in the city didn’t have cars. But Dr. van Heerden knew that. It was his calculation. LSU knew where these no-car people were — they mapped it — and how to get them out.
    Dr. van Heerden offered this life-saving info to FEMA. They wouldn’t touch it. Then, a state official told him to shut up, back off or there would be consequences for van Heerden’s position. This official now works for IEM.”

    —HURRICANE EXPERT THREATENED FOR PRE-KATRINA WARNINGS

    Read it.

  • marysz

    This photo reminds me of Disneyworld, where random Disney characters roam the park and are available to pose for pictures with the visitors. The soldiers here are reacting to Bush the same way a kid at Disneyworld reacts to to the sight of a giant Goofy or Tigger. They want to have their picture taken with them! This is what Bush is reduced to–a buffoonish figure to pose alongside so you’ll have a souvenir to send to the folks back home.

  • ummabdulla

    They must have known he was coming, since they all have cameras ready. It seems to me that for a visit from the President, this is a very small crowd. (And it seems like half of them are women.)
    I was looking at other photos of his visit there, and I came across this one. Now, I’m no expert, and I wouldn’t want to raise the “photoshopped” accusation, but can someone explain to me why the woman on the left (with the long hair) has a head that’s twice as big as the woman who seems to be right next to her?

  • croatoan

    Isn’t the picture that ummabdulla linked to a different angle of this same scene? It looks like it could have been taken from near where the big guy in the light blue shirt is taking his picture.

  • margaret

    No, it’s not, “croatoan,” there is no long-haired blond in that picture.
    What annoys me the most about this kind of picture is the artificiality of the process of organization: “let’s get some clean-faced fighting men and women in here, young, and ready to do battle for the President.”(sic) Whatever happend to the spontaneity of democracy, where photographers could catch a genuine event with ordinary people? This stuff is made for TV!

  • lytom

    Military is closely aligned with the idiot in blue. They seem to have quite a lot of energy to snap pictures of their commander. Don’t they realize that by following his orders they are quilty too?
    Female “contingent” I guess could not readily refuse to be part of the scenery. Lack of brains it seems… smiles until when? Katrina and Iraqi victims of the US policy go hand in hand.

  • http://web.media.mit.edu/~nvawter me

    In photographs in 2006, men normally rested their arms on each other’s shoulders, or high up on their backs.
    Bush’s hand between the soldier’s shoulder blades was, like his surprise contact with Angela Merkel earlier that year, awkard and overly intimate.
    It seems as if one of the many consultants hired to engineer Bush’s behavior taught him to be more daring with his physical touching. One can picture it now: “You know, just like the Latinos! They’re warm people.”
    In this photo, the interference with personal space subtley echoed the contemporary interest in wiretapping. In 2006, the neocons were prying into American’s lives, and trying to make them comfortable with it. Publishing photos of individuals with their personal space invaded was intended to make it seem not only acceptable but attractive. Imagine a stranger in a bar attempting to get as intimate with the soldier. Who, in a photograph, would have ever told the president to get his hands off?

  • stevelaudig

    a pathetically small group of paparazzi. i wonder how many were invited/ordered as opposed to “volunteered.” even a few of them in the third row out from George the Lesser are looking to their left and not the worst president, ever.

  • Lightkeeper

    Hmm…is it just me or is that splayed hand being overtly tender?

  • Sarah B.

    Katrina Anniversary: Pass The Cheese?
    When dealing with President Flatus, isn’t it more like “Cut the Cheese”?
    Also, cheese master Karl Rove must be slipping!
    The group of “adoring” soldiers in the pic are all white people save for one lone African-American soldier lost in the middle of the back row in this carefully staged-managed photo-op.
    Surely, everyone knows that when Commander Codpiece visits New Orleans he is supposed to be photographed hugging African-Americans! That’s what the script calls for.
    Perhaps someone needs to call central casting for some appropriately ethnic extras — ASAP!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • Sarah B.

    Sorry!
    I totally missed the fact that this Commander Codpiece photo-op was staged in Biloxi Mississippi instead of New Orleans, but my remarks still apply.
    That is, unless African-Americans in Biloxi are of lesser importance in Bush’s stage-managed photo-ops than white people.
    Actually, I did see the video clips of Commander Codpiece addressing an all-white crowd in Biloxi during his visit there yesterday, so go figure….
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • http://www.theunapologeticmexican.org Nezua-Limón Xolografik-Jonez

    The group of “adoring” soldiers in the pic are all white people save for one lone African-American soldier lost in the middle of the back row in this carefully staged-managed photo-op.
    Hunh. Are we looking at the same pic?

  • Sarah B.

    Nezua-Limón Xolografik-Jonez
    Did you not catch the dripping sarcasm in my use of the word “adoring” to describe President Flatus exploiting yet another group of soldiers?
    I am told by those in the know that the soldiers are ordered to show up for these photo-ops or else face reprimand by their superior officers for disobeying the order — hence, their “participation” is not even voluntary.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  • readytoblowagasket

    croatoan is right: ummabdulla’s photo is of the same group.
    This set-up is bizarre. The group appears to be cordoned off; at least that’s what the yellow rope in the upper right looks like to me. Beyond the yellow rope is junk, while the upper left is overexposed. Bush is way off-center and shot from the side; his hand placement seems a more significant feature (to the photographer) than his face. The group is tiny, only about 30 uniformed personnel, yet Secret Service is making its (pathetically scrawny) presence known. I don’t remember seeing such a hovering S.S. presence in other military “photo-ops” with Bush. What does it mean that Bush’s protection needs to blatantly flex its muscles in front of the military, a group that should be pretty trustworthy, no?
    Keesler took a direct hit from Katrina and about half of it was under several feet of water. Because it’s a military base and not a sports arena, however, everyone was chowing down by August 30:
    “Base officials started assessment and recovery operations Aug. 30 and by evening, provided the first hot meals to the 6,000 military members, civilians and family members who weathered the storm at the base, all escaping without injury.”
    I realize they couldn’t have suspected that people were drowning while they were eating. Right? From the same article, I found this detail about the evacuation of *Marines* from New Orleans interesting (but I thought Marines LIKED water):
    “Nearly 700 Marines and almost 1,400 of their family members were evacuated from Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters New Orleans, leaving only essential personnel behind.”
    http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/20050831_2580.html
    On September 6, 2005, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Myers, et al, visited Keesler AFB. Now *that’s* heartwarming.
    http://www.aetc.randolph.af.mil/pa/AETCNS/Sept2005/090605179.htm
    If this “anniversary” photo is an attempt to show what Bush’s “popularity” looks like, I’d say it looks exactly like his latest approval ratings. But I’d wager this event has little to do with Katrina. I think this is a pre-November election campaign stop to give back rubs to likely Republican voters.

  • Cactus

    I count four black faces…..all in the back.
    It looks as though this group has a lot less experience with a camera than (we hope) they do with their rifles.
    I’d be willing to bet that the cameras were handed out before Gdub got there and collected upon his departure.
    In ummabdulla’s photo, there seems to be a small red arm sticking out that doesn’t belong to anyone. Clues, anybody?

  • http://www.olywa.net/cook Geoduck

    Various replies:
    The “big-headed” woman is standing closer to the camera; see how her hair cuts off the shoulder of the person “next” to her.
    There are some civilians in the crowd; the red arm appears to be attached to the woman to the left of the tall woman in black with the sunglasses. You can’t see the color of red-arm’s clothes in the BAGnews shot, because it’s blocked by the hat of the guy posing next to Bush.
    I can’t believe the male sunglass-wearers are Secret Service, unless they’ve really started to slack off recently.
    And yes, there’s a rope between most of the soldiers and the president.

  • jt from BC

    I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever observed this repetitive type of ridiculousness in any other country. The Disneyland UK Royals pop up every so often fulfilling a job description called duty, some even curse and swear at photo shoots, “the laying on of hands” is reserved for the Anglican Church when performing a religious rite of passage called Confirmation. Pressing the flesh and lifting babies is a common gimmick in the political shenanigans of many countries but this form of exhibition is pitiful by any standards. Could it be sponsored by Nikon ?

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