Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
July 23, 2008

The Trip: Stature Gap

Amman-Press-Conference

Mccain-Bush

Given the increasingly apparent stature gap — with Obama’s appearance in Amman taking on the vitality and the look-and-feel of a full-fledged Presidential news conference — the difference between the first shot above and the “country club-like,” dynastic, retired, “that vision-thing” quality of Mac and Poppy, and the recorders, is not the function of media bias, as McCain’s understandable frustrated advisers insist.  It’s the embodiment — after an eight year leadership and engagement vacuum — of actual difference.

Kennebunkport-Recorders-1

(image 1: Jae C. Hong/AP.  Amman, Jordan, Tuesday, July 22, 2008. image 2 & 3: Brian Snyder / Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, Maine July 21, 2008)

  • Charlie

    Reminds me of the Daily Show the other night. All the reporters were following Obama but for the McCain campaign they left a tape recorder and a note saying “Press record and tell us your news.”

  • ratfood

    McCain’s hand gesture implies that contrary to conventional wisdom, size DOES matter.
    p.s. I suspect he is either exaggerating or the “surge” was beneficial in ways no one anticipated.

  • cenoxo

    …with Obama’s appearance in Amman taking on the vitality and the look-and-feel of a full-fledged Presidential news conference…
    O RLY? While standing behind an out-of-place podium that’s obviously been brought in — no Presidential Seal, mind you — in a dark suit on a bright Jordanian day, squinting into the sun against what looks like a backdrop of old stone ruins? With two dour-looking be-suited accompianists and one solitary be-suited bodyguard (the only one who’s fortunate enough to wear shades) behind him?
    This is vitality? This is full-fledged? Looks like these guys are the only ones without enough sense to come in out of the hot sun.
    Talk about media bias: I’d say the Bag is projecting just a little here.

  • Stephen W

    Wow, McCain even makes the Bush elder look young

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    cenexo, read the NYT, forcrisake:
    “But it’s not pro-Obama bias in the news media that’s driving the effusion of coverage, it’s the news: Mr. Obama’s weeklong tour of war zones and foreign capitals is noteworthy because it is so unusual to see a presidential candidate act so presidential overseas. Mr. Obama looks supremely confident and at home talking to generals and heads of state, so much so that some viewers may find the pose presumptuous — as if Mr. Obama believes that not only is his official nomination at the Democratic convention in August a mere formality, so is the November election.”
    the Bag is not projecting anything.

  • http://www.doves2day.blogspot.com g

    I don’t agree that the Obama photo is full of vitality exactly – but I am far more struck by the Bush/McCain photo. Poppy Bush dominates the shot and occupies more space and focus than McCain does, because of his taller stature but also because of his expansive body language – his arms at his side thicken his silhouette, his hands in his pocket widen his hips, and his feet are pointed toe-out. Poppy looks relaxed and “bigger” than McCain, who looks coiled and tight and like a tense little boy.
    also, Poppy is looking off into the distance, above the reporters’ heads. It all lends the impression that Poppy Bush is the detached father figure.

  • Gasho

    Love the Bag.
    Not only the pictures and the initial offering, but the Comments section, too – intelligent opinions and discussion about the crazy world we live in and the MSM view of it. I feel sane when I’m reading the Bag, but insane when I see the news.
    My first impression of these 2 pics, obviously being compared and contrasted side by side was that I wasn’t sure which was the “clear winner”. Michael’s comments swung me in one direction, then cenoxo reinforced my original gut reading of the Obama picture.. that it was expansive, but somehow vacuous and the other statesmen seem like props – but he is clearly in the Middle East and clearly working on issues of global importance – war and peace.
    My first impression of the McCain pic was that Bush Sr. is a heavy hitter to be by his side.. but then the loose suit and far off gaze shifted my opinion and I saw two old men who should be playing shuffleboard and discussing their bunions.
    Not so cut and dry this one!!
    Love the Bag.

  • http://lancethruster.blogspot.com LanceThruster

    McCain’s ‘hand with pen’ thing reminds me of good ole Bob Dole. Maybe McCain should start talking about himself in the third person. John McCain knows how to talk down to the press! Bush looks like he’s auditioning for the role of Dean Martin’s (Matt Helm) dad. Should McCain use the turtleneck (or dickie) to hide his wattles only after he retires?
    The Obama pic is all right, though with everyone in the pic in dark suits with white shirts, they look a bit like evangelicals or Mormon elders. For a little pizzaz (very little), I would have had one of the blue tie wearers change to a fourth color of some sort so they’d at least have a small amount of variation.

  • cenoxo

    cenexo, read the NYT, forcrisake:
    (It’s “cenoxo”, BTW.)
    WRT the NYT, does their text explain the picture, or does the picture explain the text? I, for one, am in complete agreement with their comment:

    Mr. Obama’s weeklong tour of war zones and foreign capitals is noteworthy because it is so unusual to see a presidential candidate act so presidential overseas. Mr. Obama looks supremely confident and at home talking to generals and heads of state, so much so that some viewers may find the pose presumptuous — as if Mr. Obama believes that not only is his official nomination at the Democratic convention in August a mere formality, so is the November election.”

    Some unprogressives might say that Obama has no real experience or solid political accomplishments, so he has no alternative but to act like the chosen representative of some 300 million people. While taking one’s stage(d) performance overseas may generate rave reviews, it’s a pity the audience can’t vote in the United States.
    Looking supremely confident in a photo opportunity is one thing, but looking reality in the face is quite another (as recent history demonstrates). Obama, if elected, will be no exception. After the election, some voters — hopefully only those on the losing side — will find their candidate did a lot of presumptuous Presidential posing.
    Belief frequently precedes knowledge, but neither are substitutes for hands-on experience. While some may believe the November election is indeed a mere formality (How many entrées are on the menu again? Two?), it ain’t November 5th yet.
    WRT to Christ, I imagine He has more substantial concerns than our perceptions in yet another media-driven, sound-bitten election.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes