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December 10, 2008

Re-Runs At The White House – Updated

Bush-Malikbush holiday child's hand.jpg

Besides illustrating how the White House runs mostly on auto-pilot, continuously looping through the same script, these images depict, once again, the kind of racial patronization that characterizes Bush administration photo-ops.

The first photo, if you remember The BAG’s post from last December, shows Dubya patting seven-year-old Malik Lawson like a pet during the White House children’s holiday reception. As previously mentioned, Malik’s mother, Air Force Sgt. Sherry Martins, was on duty in Iraq at the time.

What you have following is this year’s version of the same performance, taken Monday. In this case, the photo the White House chooses to lead with in its photo gallery is 43 reaching out to another brown-faced child. (Notice also the careful ethnic mix in the picture).

You would think, with the Obama’s moving in, the Bush’s would acquire a least some self-consciousness. How many days left till the inauguration?

Update 5:21 pm PST: I probably should have gone with this photo from Reuters in the first place (rather than the in-house shot)….

Bush White House Christmas.jpg

To gauge how much the White House structures these photo ops to emphasize black children, by the way, here is the Daylife page with all the White House photos from December 8th. Given the direction of the discussion thread based on the initial two images, I’m interested in your further thoughts.

(Also, just as last year, this reception was for children of military families. Whether any or all of the children’s parent’s are present as opposed to overseas, I’m not sure.)

(If you’re able, please consider contributing a few dollars to BNN’s end-of-the-year funds drive. Beyond operating expenses, it will allow us to keep and bring more contributing photographers on board and cover more events like the Democratic Convention. — Thanks and best, Michael.)

(image 1: Ron Edmonds/AP. Dec. 3, 2007. Washington. image 2: White House photo by Eric Draper. image 3: Jason Reed: Reuters)

  • Megan
  • Julia Grey

    I am second to none in my dislike for George W. Bush, but I’m not entirely sure what you’re saying here. I understand that he looks patronizing, but most adults patronize children as a matter of course. I certainly have been known to touch, hug or smooth the hair of a child who is charming me.
    Do you mean he ONLY “petted” the brown kids, or ONLY reached out to touch/hold hands with the brown kids, or are you objecting to the fact that these photos are the first ones in an official slideshow? Are you objecting to the deliberate ethnic mix of the ceremonies as a whole, which is what this year’s photo captures? Personally I’d find it a lot more objectionable to have an all-white crowd of kids.
    But the thing that instantly struck me about the first photo is something that I’m not sure has wide cultural currency outside the south and among people of a certain age. It used to be commmonly believed down here among the older generation that rubbing the “nappy head” of a “pickaninnie” would bring a white person luck. No joke.

  • Mike

    Yeah, I’m not seeing it on this one. There’s a famous quote from a president (Truman maybe?) complaining about his coverage in the press, saying “I could walk on water and the headline would read ‘President can’t swim’”.
    Of course there is a “careful ethnic mix” in the photo — had there not been, people would have been pointing out the LACK of ethnic diversity in the photo. Say what you want about staged photo ops, but this is hardly out of the norm in that department.

  • Blue Shark

    …As much as I loath this individual…I never thought he was racist.
    …These photos are non-starters.

  • The Heretik
  • g

    It used to be commmonly believed down here among the older generation that rubbing the “nappy head” of a “pickaninnie” would bring a white person luck. No joke.
    bush has been photographed doing this very thing many many times. both children and adult black men. he seems to have a peculiar fascination with rubbing bald mens’ heads, most black men.

  • the littlest gator

    And there’s this, even creepier one…
    Which I made zombie jokes about. It is like they are zombies now, mindlessly going through the motions. (oh and eating brains)

  • the littlest gator

    oops, I never remember to make the links live over here.

  • Victor F

    More of the same for Bush. When he thought about the “historical perspective of his presidency,” I think he only thought about looking good in history textbook photos.
    But, the thing I see in these photos, more than the blatant photo-oppery, is that Bush looks absolutely terrible. These 8 years of ruining the country have really done a number on W. He’s gained weight, he looks like he’s cashed in. Probably drinking heavily again. He can coast on out of the White House while the country goes to sh!t.
    He’s the annoying, pig-headed, belligerent grandpa that just won’t go away.

  • Sergei Andropov

    You are reeeeeally reaching with that second one. Although the face of the child whose hand he appears to be holding is slightly brown, their hands are almost exactly the same color.

  • Victoria

    Is the little boy’s head essentially shaved? Because the head rub reminds me of all those shots of Bush rubbing the heads of grown men with bald heads. What is it with this man and hairless heads? Doesn’t it cross a line of respect to reach out and rub the skin on someone’s head?
    I doubt if Bush is blatantly racist – He’s used to family gatherings with his brother’s “brown babies” (as the Bush Senior referred to them) – but I do believe there is obvious color staging going on and It Would Be Nice if they showed a little color awareness when the cameras are off as well – in matters of policy related to schools, health, income disparity, etc.

  • thomas

    Bush does many things that don’t endear him to a lot of people because he’s generally inappropriate, ill-mannered, has a poor sense of boundaries, is accustomed to privilege and habituated to the social deference of others. Personally, I think many of his sketchy conversational gimmicks and odd mannerisms are a manifestation of his repressed homosexuality, but that’s neither here nor there. At this moment I’m less inclined to speciically personalize the horrible history of these disasterous eight years. It is the Republican Party, in vandalizing the social contract of our democracy like a gang of skinheads, that is most deserving of exile. George W. Bush is going away and will never come back, but the hooligans he was a cheerleader for will.

  • arty

    Re Sergei’s comment: I noticed the same skin tone on both Bush’s and the kid’s hands and thought the same thing, aren’t we reaching a bit? Of course, in the first posting, which I didn’t bother to copy, the BAG alluded to trying to tell if the boy was black or Latino.
    Jeez, as Sergei says, they’re the same color. However, that does make the racist/photo op charge look forced, so the wording was changed to the current “reaching out to another brown-faced child.” Maybe the kid he’s touching is the only one who got Bush’s attention; the others are all intent on whatever is going on up front.
    Maybe it’s an old-fashioned minstrel show.
    Wouldn’t be nice if we all had erasers on our keyboards?

  • Nina Berman

    I met W in 1998 and the first thing he did was rub my head. I’m not joking.

  • Harold Pomeroy

    That last photo ought to never have left the photographer’s camera. The inadvertent composition is too much. It looks as if Bush is holding something in his crotch, and pushing the child’s head towards it, while Laura looks on in delight.
    Harold Pomeroy

  • Sophronia

    I also believe the analysis of these photos is pretty forced. Really, do you think he should have patted them elsewhere on their persons? And should the group of children have been composed of all white, all black or all other minority?
    I do agree that W seems to have emotionally bailed from his job. I also suspect that he has fallen off the wagon. But it is hard for me to project these perceptions onto these images.
    The most noticeable thing to me about this year’s pics, is the color difference between the White House and Reuters photos. There is too much red in the WH pics; note the flesh tones, especially. Don’t they have Photoshop at the WH?

  • Cactus

    If you did not know this man was the POTUS, would you be running to intervene for the child? And he’s not racist? That family is white supremacist as far back as they go. It would be stretching credulity to believe that none of that was inculcated in the mind of the one on exhibit here. Plus there is something creepy about him always touching, rubbing, the heads of little black boys. These photos were taken in a building surrounded by a black population, many, many of them poor.

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