Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
August 10, 2012

Georgetown Revisited: Ryan Looks to the Heavens

Bag is in summer mode this week, recharging for the conventions. In the spirit of “what goes around, comes around,”  we have curated a group of posts that say as much about where we are or what we’re seeing now as what we saw at the time.   On each, we’ve added a few current thoughts. As always, we are interested in your take. We will be back in real time on the 20th.

What’s interesting about the lobbying for Ryan for the second slot has been the need and desire to graft a real political philosophy onto the otherwise shape-shifting Romney. Although between the two, Romney is nominally far more religious (we’re talking the House of Mormon, not the temple of finance), Ryan is by far the more doctrinaire.

Most interesting about this gazing to the heavens, however, is how well Ryan maintains that self-satisfaction with what’s going on in the balcony. There is going to be a lot of chatter this week about how Ryan’s addition to the ticket is going to rally the base. What this post from April 26 demonstrates is that the rally works both ways.






Earlier this week, nearly 90 faculty members at the Jesuit university declared in a letter to Mr. Ryan that, “We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.” — Rep. Ryan Takes on Georgetown (WSJ WashWire)

Remind me to look up the meaning of the “upward stare” in the encyclopedia of body language. I’d imagine it says something about “positivity” and “idealism,” or “utopia” or “Shining City Upon a Hill” (with maybe a footnote, if you execute it at the right angle — especially in Georgetown’s stately Gaston Hall — about the merger of church and state). Oh, and did I mention the thrust of the words accompanying this fine Getty portraiture involved Ryan’s rebuttal to Catholic critics who not only take issue with slicing up what’s left of the safety net, and also to the way Ryan markets those economics in Christian terms?

As the Veep aspirant and chief architect for the “austerity” budget looked ever skyward, however, I don’t imagine his gaze lined up here:


(photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.)

  • bks3bks

    The only thing interesting about Ryan is that he had to renounce his atheism in April 2012 to make this choice possible.  Too bad he won’t be honest about it.


    • Ra

      Was there any evidence this freak was actually an atheist? He’s a cruel little Neo-objectivist bastard to he sure (and Ayn Rand would despise him as she did all “parasites”), it I get the feeling this ex-welfare recipient is primitive enough to believe in a god.

  • Catherine McCallum

    There he is, gazing upward in church, his face as smug and unprayerful as any I’ve ever seen. What a repellent human being he is – and proof, I might add that there is no such thing as a ‘finger of God.’ If there were, that arrogant bastard would be a greasy smear on the tile floor.

  • Cactus

    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen such a supercilious expression in a church.  One photo is bad enough, but four in a row is bad manners.  He is a person whose demeanor always seems insincere; like he’s always thinking about something else, something more important.  Like Romney, he’s a son of privilege.  He exudes the confidence of a man who’s rich and knows he’s handsome.  But his hands look pasty and taut, ill at ease.  Is that a clue to some inner conflict?  And why are they shot at an angle? 
    He claims to be a devout catholic, but his idol was an avowed atheist. 
    Did anyone notice that they sort of look alike?  Deep-set eyes, thin lips, same shape head with black hair and narrow chin (Romney’s a bit longer), their smiles show a lot of upper teeth, prominent nose.  Only Ryan’s ears are more prominent.  Interesting.  They both have that smug, privileged aura about them.  They feel entitled to the best and that smug attitude comes through in these photos.  He’s closer to god, you know, than we could ever hope to be.

  • Glenn

    The zombie-eyed granny-starver pretends to be devout.

  • Marie

    My reaction now is the same as the first time these photos showed up: I laugh. I can’t believe anyone would take these as complimentary.  Even if I didn’t know anything about the person, it reads as putting on airs in a stunning show of hubris and ego. Here, Ryan is embodying the “nose in the air” attitude, and there’s only a small slice of the population that would find that admirable. Show us more of your nose hairs, I mean, airs, Mr Ryan. 

    The church backdrop adds additional context for the attitude, but perhaps not accurately. 

Refresh Archives

Random Notes