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November 27, 2006

Going Begging

Cheney-Abdullah

Following a mid-term repudiation, separation from his evil twin, Don Rumsfeld, and the disconnection of his Congressional hotline, Dick Cheney finds himself with a completely new job these days: Vice President.

With attention on Bush’s visit this week with Iraq’s Prime Minister, the Vice-President broke the post-election/Thansgiving lull with a warm up act.  To demonstrate that he and Bush are still at the table (or, that there still is a table), Cheney dashed off to Saudi Arabia to record something that at least looked like diplomacy.  In this shot (presented by the Vice President’s office at the enormous scale of 385 x 566 pixels — I assume, to siphon a sense of importance from the trappings), we see Cheney with King Abdullah at the King’s Palace in Riyadh.

Being a window into the psyche, the gestures here are tell-tale evidence of how Cheney has been chastened, and how far the Administration’s stock has dropped.

While he controlled the back room, it was extremely rare to see Cheney face anyone directly.  Rather, Cheney’s typical pose was what you now see from the King.  Facing forward with only his head turned, his right shoulder and arm forming a bit of a blockade, the King’s participation remains questionable.  His left hand and foot, in particular, symbolize “the right of exception,” as if the more important always have better things to do.

Far more unique, however, are Cheney’s hands and body angle.  If you leaf back through the White House photo album, you’ll notice Bush exhorts, but Dick never does.  Combine that with Dick’s unqualified physical openness  and you’ve got a newly-deposed shadow President almost throwing himself at some bit-playing King.



(image: David Bohrer/White House. Riyadh, Saturday, November 25, 2006. whitehouse.gov/vicepresident)

  • http://justbetweenstrangers.blogspot.com/ acm

    our local headline for this visit emphasized that we were turning to the Saudis to help us sort out the mess we made, and all I could think about was that the only known hijackers from 9/11 were Saudis, but that we’re still licking their feet (while tilting at windmills elsewhere). amazing.
    nice catch on the body language here, too…

  • http://molly.douthett.net momly

    Don’t teh Saudis and the Chinese own the loans we’ve made? I suppose if I were an official in the government that sold my country to a foreign power, I’d be hat in hand to their leaders as well.
    I keep telling my kids to learn Arabic and Chinese; we’ll need to know the language of our new owners someday.

  • http://molly.douthett.net momly

    THe narrow space with the high ceiling looks claustrophobic to me. I would not feel very welcome in that room if that is what it actually looks like.
    It’s pretty, but very confining.

  • zatopa

    This photograph appears in large scale on the White House web site for good reason. The larger size allows for greater facial detail, and when people can see more of the face, that’s where we’re liable to spend more of our visual time. At a smaller size and lower resolution (as we see it here on the BAG), the body language assumes greater importance in the way we read the picture. The other option for the White House image masters would be to crop down the photo. In this case, we could crop out about the top two-fifths and a sliver from the bottom, and end up with a pretty well-composed image. If you do that, though, this would take away the visual bridge created by the top of the window treatment over the top of the flagpole, and the resulting composition would be so symmetrically divided that the two figures would look like they’re in separate rooms. Almost as if Cheney were making a confession, being assigned a penance … or receiving a prison visit.

  • catfood

    In the shot at thinkprogress.org, Dick has also shifted his weight off-center. Both cases might be attributable to hemorrhoids. In light of his character, it’s surprising that his entire body isn’t covered with them.

  • g

    I am amused at the sight of the manly Dick Cheney interacting in the very feminine, ornamented decor of the Saudi ruling family. Isn’t he more of a hunting lodge kind of guy? But here he is with gilt, passementerie, and floral carpets. squatting uncofrtably while the Prince relaxes in comfort. Too funny.

  • croatoan

    Sixteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. One was from Egypt and two were from the United Arab Emirates.

  • ummabdulla

    Usually when officials meet like this, they’re in a huge reception room, with sofas all around the sides and their entourage around them. (Not to mention the must-have little tables with kleenex boxes on them.) It’s possible that these two are meeting privately in some small room, but I doubt it.
    Actually, for a room decorated in royal style, I don’t think this is bad at all. I’m a little surpised that the carpet isn’t a more traditional one, but I guess the room is more European-royalty style than traditional Middle Eastern.
    The hijackers that came from Saudi were hardly fans of the Saudi royal family. And although I’m not a fan of the Saudi ruling family, I think the King is more than a bit player in the Middle East.

  • Cactus

    Why the large photo with all the royal trappings? First, the republicans still haven’t recovered from the end of the gilded age. Second, this is the setting Cheney thinks really belongs as his surroundings. He deserves it. The fact that he is all but slipping out of the chair to land on his face on the floor escapes his notice, so intent is he on wooing the king. The king, however, is relaxed in a ’show me’ pose. The left side of his body is already aimed in the opposite direction. All he is giving to Cheney is the gift of his glance. FWIW, notice that Cheney’s legs are pressed together (for protection?) while the king’s are open, with hand on knee. Hmmm………
    The over abundance of the use of gold is remarkable. Even the mirrors are covered with gold scrolling. And a gold kleenex box!
    zatopa makes a good point that the window and gold posts frame the two men as if enclosing them together. When I first saw the photo I wondered why there was no throne in the center for the king to sit upon. I assume he has one, don’t all kings?

  • GeorgeF

    @ catfood: This is the very, very decisive explanation for Cheney’s painstaking bod-language, but
    @cactus: he might have been pressing his knees together also, because he needed urgently “to wash his hands”…. You know – elderly men!

  • Lightkeeper

    Cheney looks like he just does not belong here. He’s the only ‘foreign’ looking *object* in the room.
    Good analysis BAG.

  • http://nocasa.blogspot.com/ paulo

    Then again he could be saying: “And then see, I pulled the trigger…”

  • http://www.theanonymouswoman.com AnonWoman

    Think Progress is linking to a Washington Post report that states Cheney was “basically summoned” by the Saudi Crown Prince. It does explain the ease with which the Prince comports himself and the beseeching posture of Cheney.

  • http://bagnewsnotes.typepad.com/bagnews/in_a_pictureinternational_focus/index.html penelope

    the postures jump out at the viewer in large part because the perspective is
    so precisely symetrical. i image it took a crew of people, laser technology and lots of time, to get everything lined up. what a job. politics is sure a profound experience .. in decorating.
    “move the table 1 mm to the left” “move the blue flower 1/2 mm to the right”
    “move the rug 1/4 mm back”.

  • limapup

    Theater of the bizarre.

  • http://www.yamara.com/ Yamara

    Um, it’s not just the body language, guys.
    Look at the protocol: One Saudi flag in the center, and no Stars & Stripes?
    Oh my.

  • ummabdulla

    Yamara, I wondered about that. Are they supposed to have a U.S. flag for a visit from the American Vice President, according to protocol?

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