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July 13, 2007

All The Noose That Fits To Print



After a near revolt by Senate Repugs this week over Iraq, intense WH pressure brought them back into line — at least until September.  But so?  Trapped between saving face and saving their political skins — and did anyone mention, saving lives? — these people understand too well they’re finished.

One reason we know that is because of the tightening circles.

Consider these shots by NYT photographer Brendan Smialowski, the first from Monday, the second, from yesterday.  Both  emphasize the same social behavior — the huddle.  If the contexts are widely different, however — the press all over McCain or Senate Republicans trying (out in public) to keep their act together — what they exhibit, besides fear and tension — are human animals either cornered or closing in.

The metaphors for each are legion.  In the case of pro-war martyr McCain, the photo will likely be remembered as his political final hour.  He’s not just “surrounded,” but “hunted.”  Regarding the despairing and spineless Republican Senators (plus turncoat Lieberman), the pic — straight out of the survivalist handbook –  speaks of “circling the wagons.”

(images: Brendan Smialowski for The New York Times.  Washington.  July 2007.  caption 1: Senator John McCain strongly denied Tuesday that he would end his troubled presidential campaign.  caption 2: At the Senate Thursday to monitor Iraq were, from left, Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina; Joseph I. Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut; and three other Republicans, Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, Trent Lott of Mississippi and Christopher Bond of Missouri.)

  • Eric

    But it is nice that they all have their “serious” faces on. What is also interesting in the shots (or at least these two in particular) isn’t just how McCain is being hounded by the press, but how he’s being hounded by a press-at-work. How often — outside of paparazzi pics, episodes of “Smallville” and Katrina-era WH press briefings — do we really see print reporters reporting? There’s no discussion, power distance, the reporter isn’t steps away, politely asking a question. They’ve got their tools out, from the primitive pad and pen to various digital recorders and what appears to be a section of a KitKat bar.
    But a big part of McCain’s sacrifice to the pack was how McCain went “out there” with his ridiculous Baghdad Bobisms. It’s easy to circle the wagons in the Senate, where old ideas of decorum, and modern ideas of security regs keep the reporters and their tools at bay. McCain was really the first pro-war GOP senator to leave the Cloak Rooms in post-06, post-Surge America. Frustrations aside, it’s nice to see reporters waking up ever-so-slightly from their Correspondant-Dinner stupors.
    A note about the “saving lives” comment — it’s interesting to me to analyze the words used by those promoting the “surge.” Even though the warmongers have done well by hiding the caskets, avoiding the funerals and minimizing images of Western casualties, in the lead-up to the Surge they spoke of the dead, in the self-serving, “We can’t let their lives to have been lost in vain” vein. It takes chutzpah to deny the death and destruction unless you need it specifically to make your own point, and the fact that it’s no longer used makes me think they realize how poorly it worked.

  • Gasho

    In the McCain shot there isn’t one inch of the image that isn’t either him, or fragments of reporters’ arms, pencils and gadgets. There is no room to breath. The image is one of suffocation.
    Question: When will we cut off Bush’s wiggle-room air supply? He said in his speech yesterday that he didn’t choose this war, that Saddam did. Saddam was faced with a choice to “disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences”. The Truth was that the weapons inspectors were there (disclosure), there were no weapons to be found (disarm?) and that W pulled the inspectors out to start his Shock and Awe campaign.
    His answer was 100% Bullshit. The time it takes the media to call him on that – loud and clear – is his wiggle room. That’s his air supply.
    Someday, answers like that aren’t going to fly. Someday, he’ll be in the defendant’s chair and BULLSHIT will be thrown right back into his face, talking points will get follow-up questions. “I don’t remember” answers will be labeled absurd and guilt will be proven.
    Seeing these Republicans “circle the wagons” as you say is a step closer, but the crimes are many, the guilt is obvious and I’m amazed at how all this can unfold in such SLOW MOTION !!

  • margaret

    What is missing in all this, is any sense that Bush is experiencing the same Angst as his fellow-Republicans. He is as arrogant, as ever, and since he holds the veto, and the votes aren’t there to override, I think Bag’s optimism about the Republicans being finished, is premature. What Constitutional options are left, besides Impeachment, which is impossible at this point for the same reasons as the lack of votes?

  • Rafael

    Well if anyone still wanted to call Lieberman a democrat…

  • Geoduck

    “Bush” does not equal “Republicans as a whole”. Yes, I expect he’ll coast through his last year and a half and retire unscathed to Crawford. (Probably starting a war with Iran enroute.) But the Republican party as a whole is in deep trouble, at least for one election cycle.

  • Gasho

    Geoduck -
    I actually disagree. This has to do with the slo-motion nature of the unravelling, but I think that once the support beams are removed (esp. Gonzales) the whole structure will be vulnerable. With its vulnerability, and the public’s growing distrust and anger I forsee Bush being called to the mat for his deeds.
    Remember also that his wrongdoing extends well beyond the country’s borders, so in addition to treasonous acts within the US, he’s most certainly guilty of WAR CRIMES. Chemical weapons were used in Fallujah against civilians. That’s not something that can be talked away. That needs to be put on trial. Starting the war at all, for that matter, is a war crime in and of itself.
    We ARE seeing the public wake up slowly. Once they’ve rubbed their eyes and can see the horror – they’ll get the taste of blood in their mouth. Made to look foolish on the world stage, having spent BILLIONS OF DOLLARS to buy a bad hangover, wounded Vets and bloody hands, Americans will require a sacrifice. Picture Bush with a huge ribbon tied around his neck, tethered to a post… wearing a tshirt that says, “Et tu, Brute?”

  • KansasKowboy

    I can’t see it. I don’t think it will ever happen. Bush and the other Republicans that got us into this mess will never have to pay for their dirty deeds. Bush won’t go to Crawford. He will go to South America. Just like the Nazi’s that escaped Germany after the fall of Hitler. There he will hide and hopefully others will leave the country and hide too. But there will be no impeachment, no resignation, no trial for war crimes. There will be nothing left here but a big mess to clean up. My guess is it will take about 100 years.

  • Mad_nVT

    McCain star has been in long, slow decline since he sucked up to Bush back in 2002, and thus threw away his strong-point, being the straight-talking independent. You can’t be a straight-talking suck-up.
    Five years later, the Media is finally brave enough to try to cut off McCain’s air supply.
    Will the Media ever be brave enough to go after Bush or Cheney?

  • Cactus

    Great shot of McCain…….he looks about to implode. On some level, he must know it’s all over for him, yet like the little top that just keeps spinning off-kilter, he keeps on going on.
    The repugs are at the poker table with the dude (Lieberboy). They don’t dare pi$$ him off because they know he’ll run crying to mommie.

  • PTate in FR

    McCain does look hunted. The moment he hugged GWB in 2004, he lost all appeal. It may have been a political reality, given the crazy Republican Christian base, but he didn’t win any fans among the right-wing, and it destroyed his reputation with the independents and discontented liberals who might have voted for an outspoken conservative with integrity rather than, say, Hillary Clinton.
    Lott must be fuming. He has been as ill-used by this administration as a Democrat, but he’s still a Republican up to his neck in the steaming mess. Are Hutchinson & Lott hugging Lieberman in hopes that people might associate them with the Dems? Both of them have clenched fists, like they would like to bop someone.

  • MonsieurGonzo

    what an eye for light/light not = black! imho, Smialowski’s works are superb.

  • Asta

    “The photo of McCain reminded me of a genre of dark and moody Renaissance artists, in particular Jacques-Louis David who painted The Death of Marat, even though after reviewing said painting before posting, I realize my comparison may be a stretch except for the visual impressions.
    (Marat was stabbed to death on July 13, 1793, as he was writing a letter in his bathtub, assassinated by a Girondist, a member of an opposing party to the Jacobin faction during the French Reign of Terror.)
    But I think McCain has stabbed himself to death with the idiotic remark that his campaign is faltering because his handlers had him wear “gay sweaters” on his stumping for votes trail. Excuse me? Can someone tell me what exactly a gay sweater looks like? Did he just kill Land’s End and L.L. Bean?
    So what will McCain choose now for his public appearances wardrobe? A STRAIGHT jacket?
    A bit of irony, today is July 13. “

  • Cactus

    Agree with M.Gonzo; Smialowski really has an eye for chiaroscuro. And the exact moment to catch the subject(s) just ever so slightly off kilter. I love the one of Gates & his military cordon walking in the room sheepishly to the stern visual reprimand of the Bully in Chief.

  • readytoblowagasket

    He’s not just “surrounded,” but “hunted.”
    And not just hunted but consumed. Swallowed whole.
    As much a comment about our media, our country’s election process, and therefore, us, as it is about McCain.

  • Northern Observer

    Lieberman will never apologise, it’s written all over his face, he is Bush’s staunchest supporter in the Senate now. Graham is still taking orders and delivering the talking points, belief in the cause matters little, he has a job to do. Hutchison, Lott and Bond are the waivering buyers of this Iraq lemon. It looks like old WWII photos of Germen officers conferring before battle in 1945 as the Russians edge ever closer to Berlin. The body language says convince me we can continue like this.

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