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August 23, 2011

Your Turn: Rick Perry Supports Our Troops

Rick Perry Iowa State Fair Support our Troops

It’s a picture that leaped into my head over a week ago, and I can’t stop thinking about. I’m interested in how you look at it. (I’ll join the discussion in the thread.)

Here’s the caption:


Republican presidential candidate and Texas Governor Rick Perry poses with a cutout of SGT James Benal of the Nebraska National Guard at the Iowa State Fair August 15, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa. Benal’s mother poses the cutout in various setting and sends the pictures to her son who is deployed in Afghanistan. “I was hoping for a picture with the Butter Cow but this is even better,” said his mother Patty Benal. The visit is part of Perry’s first campaign trip to Iowa since declaring he would seek the Republican nomination for president on August 13.)


(photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/thomasgokey Thomas Gokey

    It is a fun and loving project that Patty Benal has come up with for her son.

    As a political image it reads in a pretty straightforward way: phoney support for the troops. Perry is literally a patriotic poseur in this picture.

    • LanceThruster

      That seems like a pretty spot on interpretation; A cardboard cut-out running for president next to a representation of someone fully immersed in the real world of US empire.

      I agree that the mom’s project is a pretty inventive way to bring a smile to her son’s face while deployed.

  • T Perky

    I feel bad for the kid, being tossed around like that.

    “Better than the Butter Cow.” Now, that’s an endorsement!

  • Ciclo

    If the mother were in the foto I think it would be more acceptable.  It seems creepy, and obviously bogus politically.

  • Matt

    Corn dogs.

    Red meat wrapped in empty calories.

    • boomerangst

      I really like that corn dog stand in the background. Reminds me of the time I got food poisoning from a corn dog at a Lions carnival in Indiana in 1972. Perry’s a corn dog, for sure.

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Dennis Dunleavy contributed a post back in October ‘06 about these cut-outs, known during the Iraq war as “flat mommies” and “flat daddies.”  (I guess “flat sons” and “flat daughters,” too.)  Here’s a link the the post. Dennis talks about how the first “feel good” instincts that come from these cut-outs quickly segue to “less feel good” realities having to do with things like war trivialization and the biting loss that comes out of separation.

  • Boxcar

    I saw this and was wondering how it escaped you! These are called “Flat Daddies”:
    http://flatdaddies.com/

    Came out way back in 04, or something. Utterly perverse in every way. Used to harp on this in the standup.  Twisted, Sick and wrong. A flat daddy for the kid, a sex toy for the spouse at home and it’s like your loved one has never left you! All attempting to drum home the normalization of war, so get used to it.

    Get your flat daddy, tune into ‘Army Wives’ and try to pay no attention to the missing peace of your heart….

  • Enoch Root

    With the mom in the picture and no thumbs-up, this would make sense. But really, Perry has no idea. He wants the only job a person in his position can have where you order people to go die for their country. This makes it sad that the mom didn’t ask (or perhaps no reporter reported) whether Perry would bring her son home.

    Also, the image of the soldier is striking. He looks like a thoughtful, perhaps kind person. This is in contrast to Perry who is very eager to strike whatever pose is convenient at the moment. Not only with cardboard soldiers, but in just about every other aspect of his political life.

  • Anonymous

    So much here! A cardboard soldier, arms and legs amputated, receiving the Vulcan nerve-pinch from a candidate who eschews logic -and with corn dogs in the background and a tag-line about motherhood! Even the thumbs-up, a gesture rooted in the pandering of Roman emperors to their bloodthirsty mobs, is loaded with irony.

    An embarrassment of riches…

  • glenn

    I had to think for a while how to put my impressions into words.

    First, what a weird photo op for any politician to have to respond to. I’m not sure how anyone could make it not look awkward.

    But here, Perry chooses to hold the cut-out like it’s a sign, and turn his face away from it. It’s kind of like he’s ignoring it’s in the picture at all.

    And the “thumb’s up” is kind of a non-sequiter. It’s almost like he’s trying to pose for a photo that can crop the cut-out out.

    • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

      “Thumbs up” seems pretty tin-eared also. More a rah-rah then expressing goodwill. Again, more the Bush vocabulary.

  • Anonymous

    I admit my first thought was to wonder whether Perry had done even as little as Shrub to support the military by joining them and standing shoulder to shoulder in harm’s way. But I know that’s unfair. “Crotch Goodhair” is young enough to be part of the post-draft, all volunteer age.

    (See? I talk about being fair, and then I use in combination two of his derogatory nicknames. Shameful!)

    Anyhow…

    Perry isn’t supporting the troops (by promoting funding for rehabilitation, counseling, an equivalent of the full post-WW II G.I. Bill, etc.). Rather, he’s supporting a two-dimensional caricature of the real complexity of human needs and potentials. Alas, he’s hardly exceptional here. He slips without friction into the Republican mold.

  • Anonymous

    I admit my first thought was to wonder whether Perry had done even as little as Shrub to support the military by joining them and standing shoulder to shoulder in harm’s way. But I know that’s unfair. “Crotch Goodhair” is young enough to be part of the post-draft, all volunteer age.

    (See? I talk about being fair, and then I use in combination two of his derogatory nicknames. Shameful!)

    Anyhow…

    Perry isn’t supporting the troops (by promoting funding for rehabilitation, counseling, an equivalent of the full post-WW II G.I. Bill, etc.). Rather, he’s supporting a two-dimensional caricature of the real complexity of human needs and potentials. Alas, he’s hardly exceptional here. He slips without friction into the Republican mold.

  • omen

    if enabled, perry wouldn’t think twice about recklessly bombing iran in a second without bothering to consider the long term and unintended consequences. such an action would render our already vulnerable troops in iraq and afghanistan into sitting ducks. we’d be drawn into a war with iran. an escalation that could easily result in world war III.

    it wasn’t until i pondered that scenario did it dawn on me that the flat cardboard profile of the soldier is reminiscent of the shooting target silhouette seen at shooting ranges.

  • http://www.wfgreview.com/category/WFG-Convention-of-Champions.aspx WFG Convention

    I really like that corn dog stand in the background. Reminds me of the time I got food poisoning from a corn dog at a Lions carnival in Indiana in 1972. Perry’s a corn dog, for sure…I really like this post..

  • http://profiles.google.com/ac.missias AC Missias

    somehow the cut-out soldier’s expression is somewhere between forebearant and miffed — “leave me out of this b.s.!” or “whatever, ma.”  hard not to make a connection with amputations, as somebody else mentioned too, although cropping the photo a bit would help there…

    odd.

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