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January 8, 2009

The Ex-(And Soon To Be Ex-)Presidents


1. Obama M.O.: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. (Check it out. He really loves working the opposite aisle.)

2. Little role reversal with those ties?

3. The job really beat 43 up. 42 looking more like his brother now.

4. Bubba’s got that dreamy look. I don’t even want to know what he’s reminiscing about.

5. Carter looks half-way to the Rose Garden (again). … Maybe that’s what happens to old non-conformists.

6. And then, 15 years out, I’m sure Dubya (father of: Iraq War II, IIa, IIb, IIc, IId, IIe, IIf, IIg…/Hurricane Brownie/Osama Who?/The Great Recession) will be standing where Carter is — but with even more daylight in between.

7. I heard Bush had to tell the rug story still again, by the way… how Laura picked it out; how it’s all about sunshiny optimism; yadda, yadda. Aren’t you feelin’ it?

(12:25 pm. Slightly revised for attitude — more of it. Lovin’ the comments, btw.)

(image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images. Oval Office. January 7, 2009)

  • Mona

    Notice the shoes. Bush junior is as restless as an eight year old!

  • acm

    I figure Obama wasn’t picking sides; they just couldn’t take the photo until somebody volunteered to stand between W and his dad . . .

  • robertdsc

    I love this picture. Whatever problems each of the Presidents have had, seeing President-Elect Obama take his rightful place in the Club is a very special thing for me.

  • Karen

    I wonder when insulting Jimmy Carter will be less important than preserving historical distance. I think I head NPR say that Carter’s current approval rating is higher than that of Bush Jr. and Sr. In terms of temperament and who is comfortable in their own skin, I would have grouped them Obama, Carter, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr.
    If you think about it, the only two people in that picture not battery-operated by secret dynamics or even animosity toward another are Obama and Bush Sr.

  • J Sandifer

    This is great…I saw this on CNN last night and was hoping you would run a pic from it. I wish they would have lined these guys up in order of when they served. Bush still looks like a cowboy in this pic…trying to dominate by opening up his body. Carter and Obama look like the two most comfortable to me. Thanks for running and keep up the terrific work!

  • fastneataverage

    W. is the only one not on sure footing. Everyone else is planted… both feet on the ground.

  • Jacques

    And Shrub still looks like a simian the way he holds his arms. Ironic for someone representing the party that officially denies our distant cousins’ ancestry.

  • bystander

    2. Little role reversal with those ties?

    I noticed the alignment of the reds and blues and, presumed, party affiliation when Optix Man flagged a differently angled shot on the previous thread.
    What surprises me is what I didn’t catch. For the reversal to work, Obama should be wearing a red tie, no?

  • Doctor Biobrain

    Wow, that picture plus the seven remarks really just made my day. Great stuff.
    I’m really worried that remark #4 might be a bit too truthful and I’m a touch embarrassed just for thinking about it. Shame on you!

  • Gasho

    Pinning hopes on Obama, I see the lapel pin and feel uneasy. This is the uniform of American Nationalism. Yucking it up with Jr. and Sr., I have trouble seeing Obama fight the hard fight for the rule of law, the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. I still have my hopes, though.
    Georgie is a buffoon. He’ll be completely unable to keep any dignity as an ex-president. He’s barely able to hold his breath and puff out his chest for the last two weeks while he’s actually the president of the United States!
    Clinton is happy to have held his office and run a surplus and he knows he’ll be remembered for misbehavin’ with the girlies. He’s happy enough with that.
    Carter had to dig out an old suit — from years ago when he was about 2″ taller than he is now. It’s no wonder he’s all the way at the end, and Bubba must have told a funny because Carter is smiling. He’s pretty much called Bush Jr. a war criminal in other contexts and he’s a pretty strong fighter for justice and human rights, remember.
    George Sr. is engaged in communicating his own importance and relevance (something Jr. could not do, btw) and Obama is ‘listening’, hands folded; the shiny new celebrity waiting to take the reigns. I hope he’s smiling out of politeness – as a kind of poker face – and that he’s got big, bold plans up his sleeve.
    Great pic.

  • jtfromBC

    ~ ah yes, the wisdom of age
    ~ cool, composed, congenial
    ~ yup, its my smirk smile
    ~ a celestial thought or 2
    ~ wearing my Sunday best

  • thomas

    Where’s Cheney?

  • JM

    Georgie’s body language is hilarious! Doesn’t he look like a small child who’s just been praised as a big, brave boy? It’s like that old chesnut about a rose among thorns, but he’s a boy among men.
    All this talk about the rug made me curious, so I Googled it. It’s, um. It makes the Presidential Seal look like the Light of the World. Creepy.

  • Jason Cashion

    Hey I really enjoy reading this site. Check out this new movie coming out called The End of America. It is a documentary about the policies enacted during the Bush tenure. Here’s a link for more information about the movie

  • Stella

    If you’re grey-haired, wearing bright colors makes you look more lively. I guess nobody told the pResident.

  • Ali

    On the video Bush had that creepy, watchful expression he uses when introducing people. I think he is actually mentally deficient.

  • lytom

    What are they all so happy about?
    I do not see any connectedness. One wonders why did they have the lunch together?
    Was it to give an appearance that things don’t really change?… And that business will go on as usual?
    Are the citizens really reassured that empire will continue to hold the top of the mountain?… and that the wars and occupations will go on and on…

  • matt

    five thoughts of my own:
    1 – there are more democrats in this picture than republicans. a good sign.
    2 – the george bushes seem to crowd obama – whether to upstage him or to try to get some of the obama magic to rub off on them.
    3 – these are tall men. doesn’t w. look small? i didn’t realize he’s that much smaller than h.w.
    4 – if you’re interested in the rug, watch w.’s tour of the oval office at the white house website before it’s gone – – it’s well worth it. it’s almost embarrassing to watch him repeat himself nearly every time he points out a new piece of art. what a gem.
    5 – i can’t wait to see w.’s role in the SNL superhero cartoon featuring the ex-presidents!

  • thirdeye pushpin

    The timing of this photo in conjunction with world events is what I find most disturbing. I see 5 Nevill e Chamberlains afraid to take a joint statement on the violence and war crimes in Gaza. Imagine if these 5 had stated that a cease fire must take place immediately… where would our moral standing be? It would increase with everyone but AIPAC. Contrasting these 5 with the picture of Olmert and you can see the troll that our smiling emperors hide. I am disgusted by the invasion of Gaza and expect more from our leaders. Our complicitness is on the level of Neville Chamberlain. Remember Czechoslovakia was a gun aimed at the heart of Germany

  • yg

    i once heard a color theorist describe yellow as psychotic or inducing neurosis.

  • stevelaudig

    I’m terrible at analysis of visuals. It’s almost like being colorblind. I do think that Pres. Carter is wearing brown shoes which I have to love. If one could just pull those trouser legs up a little would we find Grandpa’s white socks? George is working Barack and will call him later after the picture to close his argument. Barack has the smile of someone who is just happy to be there. He has turned on “the smile” and is eyeballing whoever has the camera. “W”orst shows that his IQ is about 90 and has the smile of the just slightly “retarded” [in the 1950s sense so don't beat me up on that word, sometimes its the only one that carries the meaning] slow kid in class. “W”orst shows a posture fit for an 8 year old wearing a new suit for the first time at the class picture. I think he’s mentally looking for a Mommy. Clinton’s mind is on “The Hill” and “Hil”. And, yes, he has thought “Hmmm, how would it feel if she were here in the picture?” And Saint “Jimmy”, ah blessed Saint Jimmy, along with Obama shares the only other ear-to-ear grin. “W”’s “smile” stops at the corner of his mouth while Clinton’s is just getting cocked and ready to fire.

  • Kathryn in MA

    W reminds me a bit of Tommy Smothers – just slightly over the edge

  • Donut

    Bush 41 and Obama look like they actually get along. 41 looks like he’s actually communicating something to Obama. He looks like he could sit there all day and happily give Obama advice. I doubt he’d be the kind to dig into the minutiae, especially at his age now, but I get the impression from him that he wants to just kind of hang out and talk shop.
    Obama seems a little bit on the reticent side, kind of closed up a bit with the hands folded. Very respectful of the situation and company he’s in, maybe even slightly nervous. Not a typical pose for him, I have the impression here that he wants these guys to just go ahead and move along so he can focus. Like they’re lunch guests who are staying a little past their welcome – but the big smile says he would never really let on that he’s annoyed with them. Anyway, that bright smile is turned up to “11″ and I wouldn’t say the reticence is communicating that he’s uncomfortable – but he looks a little reserved overall, like he’s thinking a little bit that these other four are cramping his style.
    Notice how Bush 43 has put his right shoulder out in front of Obama? He’s standing slight ahead of Clinton and his dad, as well. He can’t stand being on an equal plane with the those guys. He really seems to be stepping forward as if to say, “hey, I’m still the Prez around here for a few more days, get behind me, lackeys.” Even though the other three guys who’ve completed their terms lap circles around him, he still thinks he “belongs” in that company, and even at the head of it…yikes.
    Clinton obviously misses the job, and if he could he’d try to take it back in heartbeat. He actually strikes me as pretty reserved here, too. I get an impression from his body language that he’s almost going through the motions of posing and what he really wants to do is go sit behind the desk and start making some calls and getting shit done.
    Carter – love the non-conformist comment – so true – and he no doubt is the most introverted and the least “skilled” or “natural” politician of the assembled group. Carter has always struck as one of those people whose intellect and humanity win people over, which is why he’s such a contrast to Dubya, Clinton and Obama, especially, and I think this pic underscores his introversion. If you notice where his feet are, however, he’s right on the same plane with Dubya. No shock that his position is several inches apart from the group, but he’s still standing out front…

  • dogfood

    Looking at them all, my primary feeling is disgust.

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