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February 18, 2013

Loss of Another Senate Moderate

Mike Johanns Resignation

Certainly, the story created an interesting photo editing opportunity. The news was that first term Senator Johanns of Nebraska, having grown sick of the slimy ways of Washington, had deciding not to run again.

Of all the possible photos, here was the one the NYT pulled from the file to illustrate it’s story. Sure, the picture was taken in 2011. Even still, you could almost imagine the disillusioned Johanns calling in the visual media, placing himself in a corner, and then casting down his gaze as if to say: “for shame.”

There are two problems with that narrative, however, one political and the other practical. The first is that any disgust or disappointment on the Senator’s part only serves to highlight something the public is already thoroughly aware of — that Washington knows no shame. The second is created by the reflection of the photographer in the mirror. To the extent the photo is at least superficially meant to portray an act of conscience, moral character and, yes, sadness, this city and it’s media typically preys on sentiment and high mindedness as a lack of toughness, embracing the opportunity, rather, to capture one more guy falling off his horse. (Or, crying in his beer.)

Regretfully, as another moderate is driven to the sidelines making the Senate and our politics still more rife for the crazies, what we deserve is a photo that illustrates the madness. What we’re offered up instead is a trick shot, and something closer to a portrait of naiveté.

(photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images caption: Senator Mike Johanns, pictured here in 2011, announced on Monday that he would not seek re-election.)

  • Dyer Lum

    I’m curious how you decided someone who votes straight party line Republican 90% of the time is a moderate?

    • bks3bks

      Hagel was a Ronald Reagan campaign manager and a GOP senator from a red state for 12 years and yet he is called a RINO by the current crop of Republican whackjobs.


    • Michael Shaw

      Point well taken, My characterization comes from his participation in the Gang of Eight and his motivation for bailing – that he was encountering too much friction and exposure from further right.

  • Scarabus

    I think the reflections are interesting. The photographer’s face beside the back of the subject’s head. But the reflections also add receding space. Notice how it looks with the reflections gone.

  • black_dog_barking

    When Mike Johanns ran for mayor of Lincoln he showed up on my doorstep one Saturday morning and asked for my vote. Only time in my life that has ever happened. Candidate Johanns won my vote that day and I’ve never regretted giving it to him.

    That said, he is loyal to a Republican Party which, in Nebraska, is a weirdly semi-secret organization governed by some faceless process that rules by what appears to outsiders, myself included, to be telepathy. From time to time a prominent figure is purged from the Party for no obvious reason. When the purge comes it is sudden and final and there are no fingerprints left behind. See former representatives Bereuter and Osborne, former senator Hagel, and now soon-to-be former senator Hagel.

    If I didn’t know better I’d think the Nebraska Republican Party was a corporation.

  • Dyer Lum

    He’s to the right of McCain, McConnell, Rubio, Graham, Hatch and Jeff Sessions. That’s no moderate.

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