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October 3, 2006

Under Revision. (Condi Edition)




Robert Woodward’s new book is kicking up all kinds of new details and allegations.  Perhaps the most significant impact of the manuscript, however, is its role in the perceptual revision of key Administration figures and relationships.

The visual press is a great mirror of and for these reappraisals.  Up to now, Condi has been more respectfully recognized as Bush’s counselor and confidant.  However, when you combine Woodward’s picture of Bush in denial, with the fallout from the understanding that Rice actively ignored 2001 attack warnings, you get a new conception of Rice’s role. 

For example, consider this photo on yesterday’s newswire showing Rice sitting between Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson at Friday’s National Book Festival Gala.  Four years ago, this shot would have expressed little beyond R & R.  In the current atmosphere, however — in light of Woodward’s description of a perpetually “rosy” White House, and Rice’s re-characterization as an “enabler” — the pic practically has an evidentiary feeling to it.

(image: Jim Young/Reuters.  Washington.  September 29, 2006. Via YahooNews)

  • ummabdulla

    They look comfortable together, and their facial expressions are in synch with each other. I’m curious to know what they’re laughing about, since the Treasury Secretary doesn’t seem amused at all. It reminds me of a picture we had a while ago of Bush with some military officers, where he and they were laughing, but no one else around them seemed to be.
    The White House web site has this photo from the same event. It’s not a very flattering picture of Bush; he’s next to Laura this time, and his face looks quite puffy and red.

  • Bluegrass Poet

    The White House web site has this photo from the same event. It’s not a very flattering picture of Bush; he’s next to Laura this time, and his face looks quite puffy and red.
    Looks like a case of rosacea — or perhaps an alcohol flush. But he sure is rared back in a self-satisfied, space-eating posture and showing us the sole of his cowboy boot. Didn’t that get LBJ in trouble?

  • Chris

    Slight detail: The enclosed link from the first comment, “The White House web site has this photo from the same event” produces a photo dated October 3, 2003.
    Let’s not be too eager.

  • phil martin

    It looks like Rice and Bush are sharing a private joke that Paulson didn’t hear. Paulson looks as if he’s focused on something beyond the picture edge. Rice and Bush are in their own little world. And doesn’t that describe well the bubble of optimism that insulates Bush from what’s going on?
    Hard for me not to invent a narrative to make sense of this image. Here’s what I come up with: Bush had made a little joke to amuse Rice, Rice shows her amusement, and Bush seems to relish her response. Paulson, not being “in,” seems determined to ignore them and focus on the business at hand.

  • Keir

    I know why they’re laughing. . .it’s the book club!
    (PS: why is Bob now Robert Woodward?)

  • Nezua-Limón Xolografik-Jonez

    In the wide shot of the same event, you can see Bush’s hand twisted up in her pantyhose.
    Seriously, though, it’s good to know they can put all their troubles aside and govern with happy and carefree hearts…you know. That they don’t let anything bother their beautiful minds.

  • ummabdulla

    Oops… my apologies! Thanks for catching that, Chris.
    I was curious to see if there was another picture that showed what was going on – to see what they might be smiling about – so I went to google and it sent me to the White House photos. I didn’t even notice the date. I did think it was strange that he was sitting next to Condi in the one The BAG posted, but next to Laura in this one, but I thought it was at different times during the evening.
    OK, here’s a photo from this year’s Gala. So in the photo above, have they cut off Laura, who would be on the other side of Bush?

  • KingElvis

    Condi once made a Freudian slip about Bush. Refering to to Bush as “My husb… …The President.” They have a weird erotic connection that makes a great deal of sense. Bush is basically in this to prove his manliness. Have we ever have a President who’s more insecure? Think about the “Mission Accomplished” theatrics, the quote about “I’m going to kick Sadaam’s ass up and down the mideast.” His pathetic need to be a ‘badass’ type and Mr. Toughguy has literally plunged the nation into a perilous spiral.
    In turn given the saw about “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac” Condi swoons “I’m just a girl who can’t say no” …even when it means a disaster in Iraq.

  • MonsieurGonzo

    i have read that most Republican men, and many Republican women ~ regard Mr. Bush as “manly,” and speaking for myself, i often wonder why. More often than not, whenever i see images of Mr. Bush in the presence of adults his “presence” seems somehow smaller; either less large than those around him, or engulfed by his environment ~ whether it be those maddening Blue-Screens, a flag-framed podium, or his own desk: he neither fills the bill, nor rises to the occasion.
    He’s the perfect President for the American Age of Why-Ag-Rah.
    Ten years ago, ze French, knocking me off as an ex-pat Yank in their ‘hood, would lean over zat leetle table in ze cafe and ask: “Vhy are zees Americans, you zee, (gesturing at the tourists in the cafe), zo fat?” Ever zince {Doh!} since Dubya, though ~ they really dig ya and ask: “Vhy are all zees American manz, you zee, zay are all taking zis Why-Ag-Rah?”
    in caricature where character traits apparent are exaggerated by the artist, Mr. Bush is often drawn in some “power-suit” costume, yes ~ but small.
    This photo, where Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice are depicted as juveniles enjoying some PG-13 joke while Mr. Paulson (daddy? chaperone?) ponders his portfolio, or a wild salmon dinner with a fine bottle of pinot noir with his wild / fine woman-wife (whatever), is no exception…
    …except, as BAGman so astutely notes, now CONDI is a kid (not even a nanny!) and yeah ~ this is new. it will be weird, whom ever comes next. Like, >POP< Hello! the smoking lamp is lit, the booze is outta the closet and lo and behold, The BAR will be raised back to up to ADULT, no Why-Ag-Rah required to make ze American manz manly :)

  • Aunt Deb

    I am imagining that the occasion for the fat grins is an emcee-type joke about the President’s reading habits. Ha ha ha. And Paulson, who actually reads, is simply bored. Poor Paulson. He’s taken the worst job at the worst time.

  • Keir

    To follow up on MG’s comment, check this hilarious (and lewd as ever) George Carlin video. An excerpt

    “In this particular case Saddam Hussein questioned the size of George Bush’s dick, and George Bush has been called a wimp for so long—wimp rhymes with limp—George has been called a wimp for so long that he has to act out his manhood fantasies by sending other peoples’ children to die.”

    This is of course referring to the children sent to die in 1991. . .

  • Benjamin lybrand

    I know this isn’t 100% on topic, but I just got my new Newsweek issue and the cover is about Woodward’s book and pretty much called the Bush junta out for “deceiving” America. This makes me wonder if they knew what was coming out with Woodward’s book and chose the alternative Leibovitz cover last week as a buffer against right-wing criticism.

  • Darryl Pearce

    This picture of the president at his Stockton school event seems to be our foreign policy in microcosm: a well-meaning but bumbling interloper tries to engage but inadvertently and inconsiderately puts his ass in somebody’s face.

  • futurebird

    Even though I don’t approve of any of her politics, and I suspect she might be a good candidate for the “10 Most Evil Living People” list I still get a little annoyed when people criticize Condi for things other than her politics. Like speculating about a relationship between her and the president or between her and that Secretary from Canada.
    Am I being over-protective? Or do you think that people are quicker to call women especially black women whores?

  • PTate in MN

    This is actually a very sweet picture of Condi Rice. We have seen so many pictures of her recently looking angry and stressed.
    But how strange…. Another book levels the charge that Rice and Bush ignored the threat of terrorism, and here they sit, enjoying a private joke, without a care in the world.
    Something else that strikes me–usually Condi is so beautifully dressed, and photos of her highlight her fashion flair. But here the costume is gone. Condi has become a smiling head floating between two men in evening dress–the ventriloquist and his dummy.

  • Nezua-Limón Xolografik-Jonez

    futurebird.. it bears thinking about, what you’re saying. but really, i think (for myself), anyone who hung around bush, fell all over his words, stared at him like a puppy dog and called him her “husband,” well. i think they could be white or hawaiian or mexican, and sooner or later, i’d be wondering. you know? well…i wanna say a mexican would have more sense. but then that damn “Torture Boy” theme music starts playing in my head and shoots that idea all to hell.

  • Dr. William Dyer

    Condi is merely whispering and being the dark spirit on Bush’s shoulder that gets him into trouble. Bush is amused by the Condi sprite and her playful mischeivious spirit. Both men have bodies, but she is a floating head.
    An important question you might ask after looking at this picture is how is it that people around Bush are always portrayed as giving him bad ideas. As things get worse for the Bush administration, the more Condi is showing up and her failings are presented for discussion. Since Clarke, Tenet, Clinton, and Powell are balking at being quiet on accepting the all the blame and neither Cheney nor Rumsfeld would ever sacrifice their own personal power; Condi is being walked into the line of fire lately. She is currently their meat-shield.
    I really am curious to know why people look at this president as having done nothing more then get bad information from these pixies or for some reason was out of the loop. His entire presidency and its performance has been an explicite application of how he thinks the United States government and America in general should function.
    Pointing out this man’s obvious errors to most people is like pointing out that one’s parents had sex to produce them. Nobody likes to hear such icky things and changes subjects. Is the American populace that fearful to admit a leader figure is putting them in a bad situation?

  • jt from BC

    ‘State of Denial’, I’d say Woodward chickened out, a more accurate title, State of Lies.
    Another good pic of the twosome lyin & smilin through their teeth.

  • Mad_nVT

    “What, me worry?”

  • Nezua-Limón Xolografik-Jonez

    …on the other hand, framing Condi as the “dark spirit on bush’s shoulder” may possibly traverse into some of that territory that i just assured futurebird we were not traveling into!

  • momly

    Am I being over-protective? Since I don’t really know you, futurebird, that’s hard to say. I think that whatever in her life that effects the way she does her job is fair game. I, for one, find it difficult to get past her Freudian slip of calling Bush her “husband”. In my mind, her mental reality regarding her relationship to him has clouded her judgment and makes her the world’s biggest enabler. Why does Bush trust her so much? Because she’s just a girl who can’t say no to him or hold him accountable. She worships him. Is this worth protecting?
    Or do you think that people are quicker to call women especially black women whores?
    Absolutely. Most of the time this tendency is just pure sexism but when it comes to Condi, ya gotta wonder. I don’t think a person needs to “put out” in order to be a whore. See what I wrote above for clarification on that issue.

  • Rafael

    Here is a nugget from Prof. Cole’s site:
    “Watching the Bush administration is like Kremlin watching was in the old days. You have to look at the photograph carefully to see how far the commissar is standing from Comrade Bush on the reviewing stand.”

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