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May 31, 2009

Your Turn: The “W,” Bubba and (Deep Pocket) TD Bank Show

Bush Clinton TD Bank.jpg

What about this picture?

Bush-Clinton Policy Talk Strikes a Congenial Tone (NYT)

(caption: Former Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Frank McKenna (L) moderates a discussion on global affairs between former U.S. Presidents George W. Bush (C) and Bill Clinton (R) at a convention center in this handout photo released by TD Bank from the event in Toronto, May 29, 2009. This is the first time the two presidents have participated in a joint event together.)

  • Steve in Los Angeles

    Well, there’s the sickly green wash against the scrim backdrop on stage that’s contrasting with George W. Bush’s snake oil salesman grin and Bill Clinton’s optimistic narcissistic smile. Makes me think of the film The Matrix. Green was the signature color of the Matrix artificial reality machine world.
    Maybe it’s the two overstuffed easy chairs and the on-stage/back-stage setup and what could be a green-screen behind them, but I’m reminded of the scene in Matrix 1 where Morpheus introduces Neo to The Construct…
    …and then after narrating a brief history of the rise of AI (artificial intelligence) and the war between the machines and the human race Morpheus gives Neo a brief glimpse of The Desert of the Real as the world after the war is now…
    But that’s me and how I react to this photograph given the aftermath of Bill and George’s turns at power. I may be reading into the image a bit. Or not.
    I wonder what meaning Bill or George might make out of the phrase The Desert of the Real?

  • Steve in Los Angeles

    Also, that’s a lot of loafers on stage.

  • Old Mayfly

    I never noticed it before, but in this picture W’s smile is strikingly similar to Laura’s usual “First Lady smile.”

  • Captain Obvious

    Clinton has a plant sprouting, growing behind him. Life, progress, grass roots, authentic. W has that shit-eaters grin. He knows he literally is getting away with bloody murder. He is vindicated by Obama, accepted as equal by Clinton. They are in the King’s club. They are free men, or freemasons, they are confident, leaning back in their chairs. They lean back, smile, use the armrests. The host is not in that club, he leans forward, no armrest for him.
    Behind W is a lightshow. It is inorganic, a mirage, a trick of smoke and mirrors. It reminds me of the proposed memorials for Ground Zero, and that they haven’t even been started.
    The bottled water sits on the table, proclaiming: Kings are too good for water out of the tap – that’s not for us, it’s almost like having our kids in the public schools!
    Good lord we can’t have that! Kings acting like peasants!

  • Martin

    Actually, that’s all kind of ridiculous. The outlier in the picture is Clinton, who looks like a refugee from the Mike Douglas Show or something. I’m a fan of Clinton and all, but if we’re just going by what the IMAGE is telling us, it’s Clinton that looks goofy and phony.

  • dada

    What a low wattage picture.
    Clinton looks more detached than we’re used to seeing him. He’s not engaged at all. Just show up & collect the money.
    Bush is frozen-smiled but carrying on.
    The MC is po-faced.
    Isn’t this is the conference that had trouble selling tickets?

  • Kelly Cooper

    This strikes me as a portrait of senescence. People sit in chairs like that when they have no intention of getting up or doing anything. The power is gone. Give ‘em both a Snuggie and turn off the lights.

  • Sergei Andropov

    It looks almost like Bush’s face has been photoshopped onto another person’s body by someone desperate for recent images of him.

  • margaret

    They are both despicable: making $150,000 for parking their bottoms in a chair and uttering banalities.
    Clinton’s smile is the one that famous people have who practice the one they want to be photographed; totally artificial. His “authenticity” has left the room in disgust, long ago.
    Bush? Bush is still Alfred E. Newman with hidden weapons.

  • Apple

    Bile green. On tour to help us digest their way of life.

  • Gasho

    Clinton is an idiot for showing up onstage with that damn WAR CRIMINAL. I for one, will never forget how the official stories NEVER lined up with the evidence and that the Iraq war is a war of choice – a war of aggression without just cause. Every person who dies in that war has been murdered by THIS MAN.
    How could Clinton – or anybody else – be on stage with a monster like that? How could you not just want to attack him? Spit on him? Throw your shoes? Puke on his suit? HOW?
    This shows me that Clinton is betting that the whole thing is swept under the rug already. If there were trials and W was shown to be a war criminal – this picture would look awful for Clinton. So Clinton is willing to let W go. He’s willing to weaken the conventions that prevent war…weaken our moral standing.
    Screw right and wrong. We live in a Post-moral world.

  • g

    I’m interested in the body language. Clinton is sort of leaning away from the action, almost as if he’s trying to disassociate himself with both the interviewer and Bush. His face is pleasantly neutral, waiting and observing.
    Bush OTOH, is engaged with that Alfred-E. Newman goofy grin of his -it’s not a merry smile, but more of a rictus. It’s a kind of defensively forced good nature that hints at something else beneath.
    All three men are dwarfed by those giant chairs, but Bush, by putting both hands on the arms I think is trying to expand himself to fill the chair – only to me (probably because I’m biased) it makes him look even more like a little boy in a big boy’s chair than Clinton, who’s somehow avoiding that childish image even while being diminished by the chair.
    The moderator looks as though he’s been swallowed by the chair and is struggling to stay up.

  • Tena

    The Big Dawg has managed to disappoint me about as thoroughly as he has everyone in the damn country, most of all, his wife.
    This making nice-nice with war criminals and assholes who exploited and ruined this country really puts the dead kitten on top of my existential sundae.
    To hell with you Bill – I fought for you and took shit for you for years defending you.

  • James

    The setting is purely ersatz: industrial carpet, outsized chairs, that absurd table, green lighting that clashes with the green chairs.
    Given that, the host is making a visible and perhaps futile effort to look engaged. He is wearing a black suit–severe, formal.
    Bush looks uncomfortable and posed, with that grin frozen on his face. He is looking, as he always does, directly at the camera, so he doesn’t seem to have his attention on the proceedings. He is wearing his Presidential blue suit as if it were a uniform or a costume. His head is cocked submissively, undermining the effect that nearly everything else is striving for. He’s probably “filling the coffers.”
    Bill is sitting off to the side, phoning it in. His more casual look and his almost arrogant body language mock the entire stage and the other two participants. He, too, is probably “filling the coffers.”
    I suppose I should not be surprised to see that Clinton’s palling around with Bush père would eventually result in his appearing with Bush fils. I wonder if part of the wry smile on his face is due to his knowing full well that he left Bush with everything necessary to prevent 9/11. I wonder if any of Bush’s discomfort comes from the same knowledge.

  • Margarita

    This composition is a New Yorker-cartoonesque Old Boys Club tableau. Three gentlemen of unexamined privilege in overstuffed armchairs clutching their cigars/microphones/phalluses, bloviating over the sorry state of the empire and waxing nostalgic over their glory days.

  • stevelaudig

    I’ve written this elsewhere but whenever I start getting the warm and fuzzies for Bill. I think of Ricky Ray Rector and Lani Guinier. Now I shall think of this picture. And W and William are not so different when it comes to judicially countenanced killings.
    Ricky Ray Rector, a black man so mentally impaired he asked that the pie served at his last meal be saved for “later on.” By 1992, Bill Clinton was insisting that Democrats “should no longer feel guilty about protecting the innocent” and took a position strongly supporting capital punishment. To make his point, he flew home to Arkansas mid-campaign to affirm that the execution would continue as scheduled. Some considered it a turning point in that race, hardening a soft public image. Others tend to cite the execution as an example of what they contend is Clinton’s predisposition towards opportunism. Source wikipedia Tuesday, June 2, 2009.
    In the year following her execution, conservative commentator Tucker Carlson questioned Governor George W. Bush about how the Board of Pardons and Parole had arrived at the determination on her clemency plea. Carlson alleged that Bush, alluding to a televised interview which Karla Faye Tucker had given to talk show host Larry King, smirked and spoke mockingly about her.[8] source wikipedia Tuesday, June 2, 2009.
    Lani Guinier. Clinton withdrew her nomination, claiming he was unfamiliar with her writing and that he didn’t realize that she advocated pure racial quotas as opposed to affirmative action, even though he had been a close friend of Guinier’s for years and, ironically, Guinier had many times explicitly rejected the use of racial quotas in her law review articles. Clinton’s White House counsel, Bernard Nussbaum, later acknowledged that the President was in fact aware of Guinier’s positions on these issues but thought that her overall resume would overcome such handicaps. Source wikipedia. Tuesday, June 2, 2009

  • Sharkbabe

    Just to hear of this event killed the last wisps of any respect I had for Bill Clinton.
    Unsurprisingly, it’s also visually sickening.
    So everything really does just come down to cheesy trolling for the bucks.
    I see those armchairs as lampposts and their occupants as bored, hot-pantsed, over-mascara’d $20 tricks, writhing suggestively at the slowing-down cars.
    (No disrespect meant to actual prostitutes, who are actually human)

  • yg

    never ceases to amaze me the shameless way clinton curries favor with thugs. where did he learn this? was it a reflex he learned as a child, coping with an abusive, alcoholic step-father?

  • yg

    is bush’s chair bigger? clinton looks like he got second billing.

  • Vulture Breath

    Clinton’s suit and tie are making me queasy.
    Clinton’s microphone is down in his crotch – he’ll let his genitals do the talking.

  • Vulture Breath

    That is a really cheesy looking set for people who are getting paid $150,000.

  • CathiefromCanada

    If this event was sponsored by the Toronto Dominion Bank (AKA “TD Bank”) then green is their logo colour and they use a green upholstered easy chair in their advertising, so this would be why it is used here.
    Which just emphasizes the cheap commercial aspect of the whole event, I think.

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