Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
April 18, 2007

Bush At Virginia Tech: We Get That You Get It

Bush-Virginia-Tech-1

Bush-Virginia-Tech-2

Bush-Virginia-Tech-3

Bush-Virginia-Tech-4

Bush-Virginia-Tech-5

Bush-Virginia-Tech-6

Bush-Virginia-Tech-7

(click for actual)

What are those tell tale signs letting you know that, in the midst of a tragedy, the Photo Op White House is thinking (as much or) more about PR, and “undoing” Katrina, than about simple aid and comfort?

(1. image: Jason Reed/Reuters. caption: White House staff wave to U.S. President George W. Bush as he lifts off aboard Marine One from the White House. YahooNews. image 2: Joyce Boghosian/White House.  Washington.  whitehouse.gov. image 3: Eric Draper/White House.  Blacksburg, Va. whitehouse.gov.  image 4: Charles Dharapak/AP. Blacksburg, Va. YahooNews.  image 5: Larry Downing/Reuters. Blacksburg, Va. YahooNews.  image 6: Rick Wilking/Reuters. caption: The signature of U.S. President George Bush with the inscription “God Bless” (top right) is seen on the Virginia Tech logo memorial to the shooting victims in Blacksburg, Virginia. YahooNews. image 7: Eric Draper/White House.  Blacksburg, Va. whitehouse.gov. All images: April 17, 2007.)

  • http://profile.typekey.com/michaelweaselo/ michaelp

    Did you notice Bush spelled God with a very large, yet lower-case “g”? I wonder what that means? We need a handwriting analysis website to go along with the Bag.

  • Kitt

    Does Laura’s f****g expression EVER change?!
    Who really caught my attention was NIKKI GIOVANNI! I heard her speak at the Cleveland library a few years ago.

  • http://www.sherrychandler.com Bluegrass Poet

    Yes, Kitt, about Laura and Nikki Giovanni. I would have liked to hear more of Giovanni. She at least didn’t seem to be assuming solemnity for the camera.
    About photo #5, is it just some sort of artifact of my screen or is Bush very heavily made up???

  • lytom

    1. Are they all really feeling the loss?
    2. Good timing to profit from the personal tragedies at Virginia Tech. No time lost to get there.
    3. Disgusting, can’t shake the habit! All hype no sorrow. Doesn’t he get it?
    4. Yes there is still support for him. He came to share the grief, WOW. Cannot get why are they all looking at a deciderer’s image on a sport’s screen? Is it 1984?
    6. Interesting selection of color to write on! Decision to write on the edge, above the red… yes the blood has not reached him.

  • Gail

    What the hell was all that flag and salute stuff about when he arrived? Is it ever about anything but me, me, me? That was the last thing they needed down there.
    Good lord, it’s embarrassing. He is so shallow and so pathetic. How can people be taken in by it? He’s so in love with himself, it’s disgusting. I will never ever get the image out of my mind of Bush talking during the debates with Kerry and every time he mentioned about military making “the sacrifice”, he had a smirk on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He’s one crazy, sick dude. (and I’m Canadian!! – p.s. we have a PM following in his footsteps, unfortunately)

  • catfood

    The WH exploitation of this tragedy is particularly galling when one considers, with all respect to the Virginia Tech victims, that (only) 33 dead would be a good day in Baghdad.

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    Talking to the base?
    Large high tier southern college (Virginia).
    80%-90% of the student white protestant suburbanites.
    White House Staff unemotional send off.
    Are they getting pay for this? Is this a “King goes to War moment”? Gather the lord’s servants together, he departs for France in within the hour!
    I think it fulfills all if the requirements of a photo-op.

  • KingElvis

    This has all the American pathologies laid bare.
    1. The US isn’t a society – it’s a bunch of ‘individuals.’
    2. Nothing wrong with flooding this non-society with automatic pistols.
    3. We’re an ‘innocent’ people. So innocent that our President tries to turn a campus nightmare into a poll bounce.
    4. We are shocked, SHOCKED, that this could happen. But it happens on an almost annual basis now. It’s like being shocked at the spring equinox.
    5. Every mass shooter is ‘dysfuntional’ but since we’re all individuals we all go crazy in our own unique way. No dots to connect here.
    6. Everything was fine about the US culture of violence until this psycho came along and ruined all the fun.
    7. Mass shootings are a ‘fact.’ We can’t simply end sales of automatic pistols – that would lead to ban of single action pistols (the ones like the cowboys used Colt 1873 ‘Peacemaker) – then that would lead to sales of auto rifles, then that would mean the Gubumunt would knock down my door and take grandpappy’s Winchester.
    8. We are all just ‘individuals’ who share nothing – nothing but the desire – the right – to screw each other over. We are just together so that we can make payday loans to eachother, exploit each other, fire each other, send each other’s jobs overseas. We have no sense of common good, public interest or even social cohesion. Then we think it’s ’sick’ to simply see the basis of our society – nihilistic solopsism – taken to its logical extreme.

  • dontkillwhitey

    Kof OT, but how screwed up is it that after six years of Bush I can’t read the phrase “aid and comfort” without immediately adding, “to the enemy?”

  • PTate in FR

    I think it is very, very sad that the president of the United States has so alienated Americans like me that my first reaction to his gesture and words is cynicism.
    I saw the first news reports–posted 20 minutes previously–and the papers were already publishing Bush’s comments and announcing that he would attend the service. The effect was weird. No one knew what was going on, but the president had already inserted himself into the news stream. My reaction was to wonder what WH malfeasance was going to get pushed off the front page (Gonzales meets with Congress) and to assume that his response was entirely political: Bush trying to show his base that HE CARES!!!
    The sequence of pictures and on the WH website is remarkable. I think the Bag’s analysis is right on, and I am very sad that I agree.
    Of course, the president is supposed to be the head of the nation, and as such, in theory, it is entirely appropriate that the president should embody the response of the nation. We hope the president cares. We hope that he or she would express our grief and such. But Bush has so failed the US that who trusts anything he says or does. Everything he does turns out to be all about Bush.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    It’s sad that we feel more cynical about Bush being there than glad to have him there.
    It’s been a sad, sad time since 2000. I wanted to feel positive and good about this new century, and we got this instead. I’ve been very angry during the entire Bush presidency.
    This didn’t soften that anger one bit. It feels like exploitation of suffering, not shared grief.

  • mugatea

    Isolated,
    socially awkward,
    & challenged by reality.

  • timtimes

    I never saw Bush show as much grief (real or feigned) in the wake of the Katrina hurricane. I don’t perceive as much grief from him for the soldiers he’s sacrificed. Tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi’s are dead: Grief??? (does anybody believe Saddam killed a tenth as many as we have? And given the very real challenges of running a SECULAR country in that area if he did get a little heavy handed isn’t it small potatoes compared to our heretofore sorry ass attempts to do likewise??)
    Bush seems able to show a modicum of compassion for tragedy that he has no control over and none where he is in charge of it’s dispersion.
    Enjoy.

  • http://dearauntnettie.com/museum dancinfool

    As I mentioned at Watertiger’s place:
    No surprise he signed at the tippy top of the cardboard, is it?
    “I am the Bush, Thy Decider. There shall be no other Deciders before me.”

  • Mike G

    It’s a bit late for this self-indulgent, hyper-partisan, sneering spoiled child to attempt to play National Healer at this stage of his term of office.
    Bush has yet to attend a single funeral for a soldier killed in Iraq — deaths for which he bears a large measure of personal responsibility.
    The military flies the bodies home in the middle of the night, with a complete ban on any photography of coffins while they are in military custody. All to avoid upsetting Emperor BoyClown with any unpleasant thoughts.

  • Cactus

    In photo #6, notice the G-od B-less G-eorge B-ush. Same capital letters, very different writing. I remember something about signatures different from handwriting, but can’t remember what.
    Oh yes, could it be LIAR?
    And YES! Nikki Geovanni. She was his english teacher to whom he submitted those ghastly plays. She demanded that guards be placed outside of her classroom when he was there. And Giovanni does not intimidate easily. They must have all been terrified every time he was around.
    As for Laura Pickles, when one has played the stepford enabler for so long, one’s expression tends to solidify. And if that’s makeup on the W, perhaps it is to cover the ravages on his face of alcoholism???
    My first reaction to the news, as PTate’s, was to think of those five million missing rovian emails and gonzo’s testilying. Guess that speaks to our pavlovian instincts, eh what? In one’s darker moments, one wonders if the W is identifying with the sorrow of the students and faculty, or the perpetrator of the carnage. Narcissist to narcissist, so to speak. Hmmmmm…..
    KingElvis: Glad I’m not the only paranoid cynic on this site. I’m more or less convinced that conservatism is just an attempt at moral justification for selfishness. Unless we get back to seeing ourselves as a cohesive, cooperative community, we’re sunk. From time to time we grab onto something in our better natures but, before we even begin to explore it, the right throws us an Imus firing or a baby-daddy puzzle, or a tragedy they have no intention of letting us solve……..i.e., serious gun control measures. Isn’t it possible the right sent in the W to take this one over so that the gun control discussion won’t get out of hand (i.e., effective)?

  • http://home.comcast.net/~sfs73/index.html MonsieurGonzo

    REPORTER: “So does this mean, Mr. President ~ that you will now begin attending the funerals of American soldiers Killed -in- Action in IRAQ and Afghanistan?”
    flashback to October, 1972…
    GEORGE Junior: “Mom, why are all the neegras in the kitchen, and the rest of us out here ~ for Grampa Prescott’s funeral?”
    BARBARA BUSH: “Because they prefer it that way, Georgie.
    PRESIDENT: “No; I… we respect their privacy. You see : they prefer it that way.”

  • mugatea

    Gonz is Doonesbury.

  • achilles

    I didn’t hear Bush’s comments at Virginia Tech. So how many times did he mention 9/11? At least once? Bush is so robotic, so tied to the canned talking points he’s been repeating for five years now, that I would be shocked if he didn’t slip it in at least once.
    Also, follow the link to the White House page with the Virginia Tech photos. The White House showcases a great big pic of students in grief and shock, but look at the first five or six pics on the same page. They’re from a totally unrelated event, a celebration of new citizenship, showing happy, smiling people. The juxtaposition is totally wierd. It’s like the people at the White House can’t tell the difference between happy and sad, tragedy and mirth. Bush wasn’t even at the new citizen ceremony, so there’s no common theme between the events. The overall affect is disjointed and creepy….. like Bush himself.

  • jtfromBC

    1 goodbye
    2 richard nixon
    3 hi glad handing w
    4 corptocracy man
    5 a death like face
    6 a godly scribe
    7 to grieving students
    ” Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good “.
    so there !

  • http://www.searchformajorplagge.com MichaelDG

    Sometimes the first words out of someone’s mouth are the most telling. I was stunned by the first official reaction by the White House to the Virginia Tech shootings:
    “As far as policy, the president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed,” said Dana Perino, a spokesperson for President George W. Bush”.
    Why should we be cynical?

  • Tom

    Bill Clinton would be sitting there with crocodile tears running down his face and the mainstream media would be eating it all up … “let’s give him a close-up!!”

  • http://www.maliciousintellect.com Mastriani

    What’s really sad, that no one even bothered to mention is the following:
    1. Due to moronic laws that no lucid person should support, this psychotic scumbag’s known mental health history was not divulged to authorities until after the fact.
    2. Everything was premeditated, and his infamy assured.
    3. The pukes in the MSM not only received all the pictures, videos, manifesto … but then in a total sign of disrespect to the fallen in this scenario … they aired it ALL.
    4. You people are worse than Bush, you not only don’t care about the fallen, you’re so hypocritical in your own politicised agendas, you have no perspective.
    Doesn’t matter what Bush did there, what matters is what wasn’t handled in other state political circles that might have prevented this from happening.
    Welcome to American, land of the agendised MO-ron society.
    Pathetic.

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    1. Do you want your mental health history neatly folded in the local authorities files? Want regular visits from the cops because of that one “incident”?
    2. Yes it was….
    3. I would say, show it once, do your reporting and then be done with it, don’t repeat it again and again, as Keith Olebermann said last night “we have become complicit…”
    4. We do care, and that’s why it bothers us (at least it bothers me) that the President used this opportunity to wash away his record of not caring for others, like fallen soldiers on his war(s) of choice or the victims of Katrina (“lights on…speech…lights off!”) If it where me (and it isn’t) I would say, turn of the cameras, I’m going to speak to the families and victims in private for a bit, then maybe later make a few statements.
    5. That would be “Welcome to America”, right?
    As for Tom’s comments, I take your Clinton and raise you a Reagan, now there was a master of “Presidential Caring”.

  • tina

    The guns Cho purchased would not have been legally available under the assault weapons ban of 1994. Bush of course allowed that ban to expire two years ago. No peep from anybody on how maybe renewal of the assault weapons ban might be a good idea.
    Also, yeah, Bush is a f***ing opportunist. But we knew that. Pictures of course show that. Nothing new to see in the photos.

  • tina

    Bush really does feel a twinge this time ’cause it’s rich white kids who are the victims, mostly. Sorry to put it so bluntly but it’s true.

  • Joyce

    What struck me about Bush’s comments at the ceremony was his saying the students were in the wrong placeat the wrong time. It is shameful that he/they could not see how wrong this is. the students were in exactly the right place at the right time. They were in class, on a campus of a University that is meant to be a haven. The very disturbed student, who had been recognized as such, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had no business being there with such hate and potential for destructive behavior that had been known. Even his teacher, who had him in a private instructional situation because of his potential threat, was afraid of him – enought to have a private code to call security if he was threatening during her meetings with him.

  • erthsister

    The sympathy seems more calculated than not, I agree.
    I have to take issue, though, with characterizing the victims as “rich white kids.” I’ve been struck by the variety of backgrounds of the victims, coming from places incuding India, Israel, Vietnam, Indonesia, Egypt, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Peru, … as well from up and down the eastern-mid-Atlantic seaboard. So the victims were white, black, asian, arab, latino… a pretty good cross-section of the diversity found on many campuses.
    Even among the kids who would be considered “white,” you find a young woman who had worked at a department store to save money for college, a young man who grew up on a small sheep farm… Errr, rich? It does not appear so.
    The RWK tag does not seem fair to the larger group of victims, even when used to call Bush on his crocodile tears. More likely Bush saw it as politically necessary to show some response.
    I find it most damning that the first official WH words were not on the pain of the victims, but on the “rights” of gun-advocates. Who really needs the most consoling?

  • tina

    erthsister, there were international students involved (they are courted as they pay higher tuition, and they make up half of any given engineering class) and maybe even a couple of token middle income folks but as per the rest, see Rafael’s post.
    I don’t mean to be snarky about the students. It’s just that you didn’t see Bush reacting this way about Katrina victims, do you? And look what his mother said about them! Let’s face it, these upper class white college kids are among the few groups of people he actually considers human.
    “Diversity” at these sorts of universities is a carefully constructed sham. It looks nice from the outside but dig a little deeper.

  • VT Student

    Ok, this is just rediculous. I am a VT student. I was on campus during the shooting. I attended the convocation (and yes, I was on the football field, watching the whole thing on the big screen- that’s because the basketball arena, where the ceremony was taking place, was full a whole TWO hours before the thing even started). I listened to President Bush and to Governor Kaine and all the other people there to speak on our behalf, and I have to say that I am grateful. It didn’t matter to us WHAT they said, but rather that they were there, to recognize our grief and give us an opportunity to be together with out school mates- this was something we all desperately needed.
    Get over yourselves. Did the white house squeeze publicity out of this? Probably. But who cares? It was something that was extremely benefical to the students, and we were supremely pleased and touched that so many officials recognized our loss.
    Now, to the fact about Iraq and Katrina. NOT comparable. You SIGN up for the military. It’s completely volunteer. There is no draft. Is it a shame that we are losing so many soldiers? Of course; war is always a tragedy- but it IS war. This was not. These kids were attending class- in one afternoon, all illusions and suppositions of safety and security were shattered by one very unsettled coward. Katrina was terrible- there was so much damage and there is still so much that needs to be done to repair that area. BUT, that was caused by a natural disaster- a freak of nature that, living in that area, you are well aware of. I hate to say it so callously, but that is the risk of living in an area like New Orleans (the same thing goes with “tornado alley”). And while that is sad, it is NOTHING compared to the utter shock of being betrayed by someone in your own community.
    So stop using our tragedy to advance your agenda against President Bush. Because that’s what you’re doing. Just stop. No one needs you to turn an already politicized incident into a President Bush bashing contest.

  • Ben

    Amen to that, VT Student.

  • http://twitter.com/dr_comm Deni

     do you feel the same about Obama going to Aurora?

Refresh Archives

Random Notes