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November 19, 2007

Bush and Mush

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This photo of Bush and his “special friend” — taken during “Mush’s” visit to the U.S. in September a year ago — seems to give entry to a number of points.  (The image dominated the NYT front page only yesterday.)

First and foremost, looking into the Oval Office, the shot has the feel of a box (some might even say: cell).  The visual narrative suggests that Bush and his pal, Musharraf, are caught in a box with George looking for an out, but unable to “find the handle.”

Another point is how, taken today, the color lends a whole new spin — and timeliness – to the image.  Specifically, I’m considering how the red and green foliage in the foreground seems to ring with the season.  (The flowers, given color and height, seem to even conjure poinsettias.)

Although most of us only attend to the news with “one eye” during Thanksgiving or Christmas proper, the story that dominates that down time earns a notorious distinction.  Like the errant child standing dumbfounded after the music has stopped following a round of musical chairs, it seems Bush’s Pakistan meltdown is a likely candidate for prime attention this week between the football and the turkey.

Finally, with Mush at Bush’s back, smiling no less while sporting his very own nationalistic lapel flag, one can’t help look at Musharraf as a dictatorial chip off the old block.  But then, what else would one expect from an imperial clone — having learnt from the master — than the art of form over substance; the substitution of policy with catchy slogans; and the execution of diplomacy by photo op.

(image: Joshua Roberts/Reuters.  White House. September 27, 2006.

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  • gabriella mendosa

    That is a great title, Bush and Mush. I have never heard that one before!
    Bush usually has that befuddled expression on his face at extemporaneous, unscripted moments. The only time he appears confident is when he is reading a speech or posing for pictures. I sadly imagine the content of mindless babble-conversations he holds with World Leaders in private, and what they must think of him. America’s representative to the world. The Mexican President gave us a clue. We will hear more in 15 months when the national nightmare ends and people feel free to speak.

  • quax

    IMHO Mush is much smarter than you make him appear. He is a dictator no doubt but I wouldn’t put it past him to wear his pin label as a sarcastic rebuke to the “masters of the universe”. After all we know that Mush happily takes the US money put doesn’t let them near his nuclear soup kitchen no matter how much they bag. He displays the smile of somebody who is certain that he has the US wrapped around his finger.
    I think it is that smugness that drove the neocons crazy enough to decide that they need to throw him under the bus.

  • jtfromBC

    ‘Mr. Fleischer recounted one session where the general had been warned in advance not to ask the president for F-16 fighter jets, because the answer would be NO. “Musharraf brought it up anyway,” Mr. Fleischer said, “and Bush told him the answer is NO”
    In 2005 Mush gets F-16 fighter jets !!!
    Whose smirking now ???

  • gasho

    In our imaginations, these two look like they are in a “jail cell” because we’d all love to see that, but the truth is that they are quite warm and cozy in the most powerful office on the planet.
    The world cannot afford incompetence in such lofty positions of power. Bush is the incompetent one, btw, not Musharraf. Musharraf has parlayed his 3rd world country throne into an 11 Billion dollar US taxpayer funded allowance. He’s being paid astronomically for his percieved allegiance to Bush (smirk)– an allegiance that turns out to be totally false (double smirk).
    Both of these men care more about power than democracy or their country’s wellbeing, but they aren’t supposed to let that show. Now that Musharraf is showing his true colors, Bush has egg on his face – and he’s already picked up the tab for breakfast.
    Last week when I heard that we’d given Pakistan nearly 11 Billion dollars in millitary aid that had been spent bolstering the conventional weapons capabilities towards India — my frustration reached a new level. I went from thinking that Bush happens to be the Worst President Ever to thinking that he’s TRYING to permanently set the record.

  • The BAG

    quax: Good point. If the write-up or the point about the pin intimates that Mush is somehow a dummy or stooge, I didn’t intend that. In fact, the NYT article I linked to (which I think was paired with this photo) explains how Mush has played Bush at every point. Looking at it again, in light of your observation, it also convey the quality of Mush simultaneously following Bush’s lead but also operating behind his back (and possibly expressing some curiousity about where Bush thinks he’s going).

  • tina

    In Pakistan Musharraf is often called “Uncle Mushi”–It refers sarcastically to his paternalism but it has unintentional echoes of Uncle Sam, too.

  • Cactus

    While I’m sure it’s a trick of the available light, Musharraf’s “green” suit echoes the hightlighted green of the leaves. Just an interesting aside. OTOH, The W’s sad, downcast somewhat ruddy face is looking at the red flowers, somewhat disconnected from his guest. One wonders why the selection of such a dated photo, when surely the NYT has access to many current photos of Musharraf in all his glory. I wonder if, as The Bag suggests, the season had anything to do with their choice. Does it impart a sentimentalism undeserved?
    quax was right, seems there are several foreign ‘leaders’ who in their own way are making such points about the ‘great leader of the western world.’ One could name Putin, Merkel, Brown, and even the latecomer, Sarkozy.

  • martin

    Ah the days when all press (be)spokespeople were as transluscent as Ari! Sure i heard his name in some context or other lately too. from those early days too, bagfolk might remeber that george stumbled when asked to remember said presidents name:
    ‘..President Bush’s reply to WHDH-TV political reporter Andy Hiller, who, during the 2000 presidential campaign inquired about Gen. Pervez Musharraf: “Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?” To which Pres. Bush replied (and I quote) “Wait, wait, is this Fifty Questions?”..”

  • MonsieurGonzo

    kinda reminiscent of one of those hackneyed old film / soap opera poses where the two characters, supposedly in dialogue:dynamic with one another ~ both turn to camera / stage-front…
    …the rear-most actor actually speaking to the other actor’s back
    …which in reality (imagine yourself talking to your partner in this ridiculous way :) would be either a momentary = meaningless turn, else the body language would be construed to be either drama-queen extreme or incredibly rude, in almost any cultural context, between two people. But then, the writers are “On Strike,” oui?
    BUSH: How could you, Pervez!
    MUSH: What?
    BUSH: Dissolve the entire Judicial Branch…
    MUSH: {laughs}
    BUSH: Throw all the lawyers in jail!
    MUSH: Don’t you dream of doing this too, Sahib?
    BUSH: Oh, Pervez!!
    MUSH: And Bhutto…
    BUSH: I… I’m a leg man, Pervez {giggles}
    MUSH: No No No! Benazir Bhutto…
    BUSH: Oh!
    MUSH: Wouldn’t you like to…
    BUSH: Oh! Oh!
    MUSH: You could just… watch-?
    BUSH: Oh, man! With another woman?!!
    MUSH: She’d do it, too… if Condi told her…
    BUSH: Oh. My. God. You’re wicked, Pervez! Why, the very thought of it…
    [ Bush turns to face the window ]
    MUSH: I will send you some “sample” photos by diplomatic pouch, Sahib

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