Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
November 7, 2008

The Color Of Love

Bush Chef.jpg

White House Farewell.jpg

Leave it to the traditional media to capture the sentimentality of a president who will go down in history for being monumentally out-of-touch.

One thing I’m deeply thankful to be losing is Bush/Rove’s knee-jerk visual policy of representing Dubya, as much as possible, in the company of (and expressing love for) people of color. Yesterday’s “transition” (read: goodbye) meeting with employees of the Executive Office was, once again, indicative.

This first image above is a Reuters shot. It’s instant newswire candy for the strictly visual contrast in black-and-white … and the impressive chef’s hat. What is just as distinct a hallmark, however, is the race/class divide, the “hired help” message emphasized by the difference between the staff women in civvies and the lily-white uniform. (If simply a consequence of “greeting mode,” the contrast in eye contact also drives home who’s still there for who.)

The second image is one of the four White House photo gallery shots of the (otherwise largely white) event. As a Bush signature exercise of looking benevolent, we see just one more cloying shot of “W” all-too-intimately hugging a woman on a rope line. Notice how the WH photographer also frames the scene with people of color.

Well, at least the days of White House race patronization are just about over.

(image 1: Larry Downing/Reuters. White House. November 7, 2008. image 2: Eric Draper/White House)

  • Mister Dott

    Why don’t you accompany these images of our wonderful President with some photos of maimed and dead civilians and torture victims of Mr. Bush?
    May Bush and Cheney and the other war criminals in his administration spend the remainder of their lives trying to avoid trial for their war crimes. And may they fail at that and be dragged into the Hague to face justice.

  • Mister Dott

    Here is a link to photos by unembedded photojournalists in Iraq. The images #2-5 by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad taken while wounded by American helicopter gun ships that shot up a crowd of unarmed Iraqi civilians are especially compelling. Five journalists accompanying Mr. Abdul-Ahad were killed in this incident. Look at these photos and others at this website and then look again at the photos of Bush above and know the meaning of the phrase “the banality of evil.”
    Two of these photographers gave a talk and slide show at the University of Washington recently and the experiences of ordinary Iraqis under the US occupation that they described were heartbreaking.
    I can’t watch TV anymore. To see these war monger politicians and pundits, Republican and Democrat, on the screen talking like they’re experts on everything when they get so much wrong, and yet being treated with respect, just drives me nuts.

  • Mister Dott
  • thomas

    The Boy King’s amazing adventure concludes with the same self-absorption and lack of understanding with which it began. And now it’s back to the golf course.

  • http://www.landsedgephoto.com elfpix

    I think we see in those photos just how influential Mr. Bush has been in his 8 years in the White House.
    While his staff knew him, and while he had little cute nicknames for each of them, someone else was doing the nation’s work.

  • http://solarray.blogspot.com gmoke

    Bush is looking past the chef and not engaging with him at all. I get the same impression from the embracing the window shot as well. These people are props not individuals, as I see it. Looking at similar pictures with Obama, my impression is that he meets each person as a specific individual.

  • Mister Dott

    “someone else was doing the nation’s work.”
    And what was “the nation’s work?” Wrecking the economy? Eviscerating the constitution? Torturing and killing human beings? Jesus Christ is my favorite philosopher said Bush. I know. I know. I sound shrill. But I don’t understand how any American can get out of bed each day without feeling a profound sense of shame for what we have allowed this evil man to do in our name.

  • http://splendidmarbles.com SplendidMarbles

    The second photo seems to show Bush trying to crush that poor woman’s head. He looks lost and groping for direction – a little late for that. I just hope he and Cheney don’t trash the White House before they leave.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    The “me” era is over. Let’s move on to the “us” era.

  • Valkyrie607

    Strangely, Bush comes off almost as a supplicant in these photos, albeit an arrogant one. Something in his reaching and in the hesitation of the people he’s reaching to reveals that on some level, he feels in need of their approval. Even if he doesn’t see them as his equals. I think the jokes we’ve heard Bush make about his unpopularity (i.e. appearing on that show, what was it, “Deal or No Deal” and joking about going to where the ratings are high) show that he thinks about it, and it bothers him somewhat. Whether or not he’s honest enough with himself to venture into understanding why, I doubt.

  • http://tallulahbankhead.wordpress.com tallulahbankhead

    Photos like this make me wish that Bush had found success doing anything else but government. After spending eight years loathing his policies and his approach, I guess this is the reminder that there is a person in there after all.

  • bluinky

    (exo)(d)(io)(us)

Refresh Archives

Random Notes