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February 10, 2008

Starting Out All Thumbs


Leave it to photojournalist and political commentarist Christoper Morris to elevate and accentuate the dis-ease with McCain. 

Ever since Super Tuesday night, when this shot was captured during Mac's Phoenix victory celebration, the conservatives have been casting their reservations, as have primary voters. 

On the surface, someone — perhaps a staff member — appears to be emulating the "double thumbs up."  Beyond the mocking quality of an out-of-scale, disembodied and shadowy extremity, however, what makes the photo so strange is John and Cindy's perceived orientation to the audience.  Given the angle, it looks more like "thumbs up guy" (representing that "can do" candidate the GOP couldn't come up with?) is gesturing to the crowd while the McCains are facing who knows who?  And, there's your problem.  Like those lesser flip-floppers who have since faded away, it's hardly clear what audience McCain lines up with.

But back to the hand. 

That thumb is not so high that it reads like an affirmation.  In fact, with the cocked thumb and that silvery shine on the knuckles, it offers a bit of a "bang, bang" impression.  Not to suggest that McCain is in mortal danger, but as we know, the campaign (particularly from the right) is already serving as target practice.

image from: Does McCain Have the Right Stuff?  (TIME)

(image: Christopher Morris VII/TIME.  Phoenix.  Tuesday, February 5, 2008.

  • Anon

    He seems to be clapping, actually.

  • GPrimm

    I dunno; if you just take a fast glance at it, it looks like the Thumb of God appearing out of hyperspace.

  • ERb

    ‘The sound of one hand clapping’????

  • black dog barking

    Not a flattering shot of the candidate nor the prospective first lady. McCain’s “smile” and posture suggests pain, not prowess. The deep shadows on their faces show Time’s hand, thumb’s down. Don’t imagine this picture will be on their web site.
    Brainzzzz … No, wait. Votezzzzzz …

  • jtfromBC

    A Republican Patrician gripping the reins of his war chariot

  • MonsieurGonzo

    JT : “gripping the reins of his war chariot…
    . . !
    (once again) JT, you have totally blown my mind, man.
    who dares whisper: sic transit gloria

  • Mommybrain

    What anon and ERb said – it looks more like an arrested clap – approval withdrawn, awaiting further input before completing applause.

  • Christopher Morris

    lol… Interesting… It is always very difficult as a photographer to try and find some new and different vantage point. Especially with political coverage. This was my fourth victory night with McCain and I refused to try and attempt the same image from the front of the stage… The reason everything is a bit of kilter here is that I’m on the stage with his family… The hand in the foreground is from his son Doug McCain, from his first marriage…who is clapping…. The Senator turned to his family and gave thumbs up…. This is all…. Nothing special… Not one of my better pictures… But it is something no one saw on the wires..
    What ruins it for me is that his thumb is to close to her nose… For me there is always something in a picture that seems to ruin it…
    thanks for the discussion…

  • Alan Chin

    hi chris, tell me about it, a week in new hampshire (which the BAG published on this site) was enough for me…and then edwards had to withdraw while i was in new orleans, i couldn’t get far enough away from the campaign…
    …i don’t know how you do it, day after day, week after week, on the trail, more power to you and our colleagues who don’t go insane with boredom after a while. sometimes it feels like we’re just playing with geometry and lighting, photographing the same candidates over and over again…which is why i’ve tried to focus more and more on the people and the surrounding settings, which i’ve seen you do so well over the years as well.
    so if you see me shooting one of these events with a Holga, then you know i’ve gone completely off the reservation! cheers, alan

  • Geoduck

    To me, it looks like a visit to the “thumbs up” section of the waxworks..

  • bartcopfan

    But back to the hand.
    That thumb is not so high that it reads like an affirmation. In fact, with the cocked thumb and that silvery shine on the knuckles, it offers a bit of a “bang, bang” impression.
    I didn’t really think much about it until I read this and looked back at the picture. Then it actually looked to me like The Hand could actually be giving McCain The Bird!
    Go look again!

  • KansasKowboy

    The big thumb in the foreground looks more like a hitch hikers thumb style.

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