NOTE: BagNewsNotes is now located at http://www.bagnewsnotes.com/. Please update your bookmarks.

You will be automatically redirected in a few seconds...

« Pentagon Pictures, Tall Afar Tales | Main | Where It Started Before It Started »

Nov 08, 2005

Pizza II

Pizza1
(click on image for larger version)

If you follow the BAG, you might expect that the mystery surrounding the Saddam Missile Strike/White House pizza shot hasn't sat well with me.  It was on my mind for a good part of a drive I made this past Sunday from LA to San Diego.

The more I thought about it though, the more I, too, have to conclude this photo (supposedly depicting the decision to launch a pre-emptive strike on Saddam) was staged. Why?  There is a laundry list of reasons.  Foremost is the fact the photo was issued by the White House at a point at which "message control" was at its tightest/finest.  Here are more reasons:

1.) From the timeline, we know that this shot occurred toward the end of the meeting, and it just doesn't make sense that Bush Co. would have allowed a photograph before or while the bombing decision was made.  2.) If the decision still was being argued, Rice and Rummy would still be there.  3.) After 3+ hours, these guys just wouldn't look that put together with 3 of the 4 wearing coats, etc.  Also, it just doesn't make sense that Tenet would still be arguing the case this late into the meeting.

4.) I'm guessing that Tenet actually posed with his jacket off to dramatize his "working" role in making the case. 5.) The best explanation for why these guys would be all bunched up at/behind Bush's desk is because they were arranged that way for the dramatization. 6.) It doesn't make sense that Bush is holding up this paper -- probably the finding to attack --at the same time Tenet is arguing the case, unless the photographer and/or the participants thought they could convey the process and the result of the process at the same time. 7.) How often do you see a shot of Bush wearing glasses? 8.) Doesn't the presence of Cheney's glasses -- nicely situated on top of his files -- also argue for the use of the reading glasses as props? 9.) I'm still not convinced that the figure in the window belongs to Card. If it's not, could it be the reflection of someone eying the scene and helping stage manage the photo? 10.) It doesn't make sense that the little gold clock would be so close to the front edge of the desk unless a point was being made -- i.e. time is of the essence.

There, now I feel better.

(image: Eric Draper, White House/A.P. March 20, 2003.  Oval Office.  whitehouse.gov)

Comments

If it is staged, I find it even more interesting that Cheney is obviously the most important person in the room. He is the focus of everybody's attention.

Tenet and Cheney are the "playas" while Bush and Card are the "hangers-on". I think that IS Card's reflection in the window; hair, angle of head, shirt collar, height - match up to my eyes.

Has W thought of a career in acting once his term is up? Seems to have worked for Presidents before him.

This is a really dumb trivial question but -- does Bush have less hair than he used to?

Bravo, The BAG. You deserve to feel better after the relentless labor of presenting visual issues and sparking relevant debate (or flights of fancy) on a daily basis. I, for one, take this opportunity to thank you publicly for that.

The addition of numbers and arrows gives this photo a football game-play feel, which redeems it immensely. In my not-so-humble opinion, this photo sucks as a staged shot — it's much too static — and I can imagine the photographer (Rove) told Tenet to remove his jacket so that his crisp white shirt and lovely pink tie would give the viewer SOMETHING interesting to look at in an otherwise deadly black hole of charcoal-gray. Also, Tenet may have been instructed to strike a different pose from the hopelessly stiff Card and uncharismatic Bush and make like he's really speaking to Cheney. From the beginning I've thought Tenet and Cheney look like two linebackers getting into position for the "snap." They may have actually resumed their argument, which could explain Bush's expression. Bush's thought bubble: "Come on, Dick, let's get this over with, I'm starving!" One of the articles you linked to in an earlier edition of this post happened to mention that the president met the first lady after this meeting (and photo shoot).

Thank you also for identifying the little golden clock. I have been puzzling over what the hell that was! Next to the clock is what appears to be a wooden nameplate, turned toward Bush rather than out toward the room. I have entertained myself wondering if Bush always keeps his nameplate turned facing him.

Do Bush and Card ALWAYS wear flag lapel pins?

So many shadowy figures. . .

As usual, BAG, I think you've hit the nail on the head. A posed picture of "the moment" gives Card his position here, certainly. Plus, Cheney's glasses off, I think, means business is over. I noticed one thing about this picture - the energy of the people. This is not a static picture, so i think they were wrapping things up and ready for lunch/dinner (pizza perhaps)?

As usual, BAG, I think you've hit the nail on the head. A posed picture of "the moment" gives Card his position here, certainly. Plus, Cheney's glasses off, I think, means business is actually over. I noticed one thing about this picture - the energy of the people. This is not a static picture, so I think they had wraped things up, were providing the photo op and ready for dinner (pizza perhaps)? As for the turned-around nameplate, I can tell you it doesn't contain the motto "the buck stops here"!

As usual, BAG, I think you've hit the nail on the head. A posed picture of "the moment" gives Card his position here, certainly. Plus, Cheney's glasses off, I think, means business is actually over. I noticed one thing about this picture - the energy of the people. This is not a static picture, so I think they had wraped things up, were providing the photo op and ready for dinner (pizza perhaps)? As for the turned-around nameplate, I can tell you it doesn't contain the motto "the buck stops here"!

What isn't staged in the Bush administration?

I respectfully disagree, precisely because the pecking order is too obvious and raw. Yes, everything in this WH is staged to some degree, but...

Cheney is the alpha here beyond any shadow of doubt. Card has handed dubya a piece of paper (possibly in response to a casual request made by someone earlier on?) Dubya has just looked at it and is offering it to Cheney to read. Tenet's body and face say that he's trying to make a substantive verbal point (which may or may not be related to the piece of paper, though it's clear that neither Cheney nor Tenet consider the paper particularly important) while his left hand is cutting off dubya's access and saying "Pay attention please -- the ignoramus in the big leather chair can wait." So Bush and Tenet are both trying to get Cheney's approval. Whether Tenet and Bush agree or disagree on substance is not clear, but the competition for Cheney's attention -- Tenet directly and Bush as passive supplicant -- is unmistakable. And Tenet clearly thinks that Bush's piece of paper is a distraction.

If this were staged, it would have to be staged by Cheney's people by way of showing Cheney in charge, and Cheney doesn't have that kind of people...

I think this picture mistakenly shows more than it was intended to show. Objectively, the action would seem to revolve around Bush rather than Cheney, since Cheney is off to the side and the lowest in the frame; his back is to the camera; he is the only one whose hands aren't gesturing (or even shown); he seems to be the only one not obviously engaged in the action - his glasses are off, his notebooks are closed and he's kind of slumped forward. He's done. The rest haven't gotten the message and are still projecting an earnest desire to affect the outcome. Until the kind of closer inspection the picture has gotten here (thanks, BAG and commenters, too) I (and the WH no doubt) thought this projected "Bush - man of action" with Cheney a trusted helper. Instead it ends up feeding my impression that this is really the Cheney Administration, featuring W the sock puppet.

I was convinced, until I read radish and SEAS.
If this was staged someone really goofed big time.
But that's nothing new, right?
Rice, Rummy and Powell may still be there
but I think we are looking at the KISS principle.
Keep It Simple Stupid.
Supposedly that way everyone will get it.
Had they consulted you, Bush might be more prominent, convincing and not looking to Daddies right hand man. Can you demonstrate or comment on how you might have 'staged a more authentic pic' to convey Bush in a better light, and remove any doubts he is not playing second fiddle.

Here's how I'd do it: First, I'd have Bush with his shirtsleeves rolled up. I wouldn't be quite so close up, so you could have various important looking papers spread out in front of him, while having his staff, including Cheney gesturing significantly toward both Bush and the papers (indicating they are offering him points of view, in effect). I'd have him standing with the staff somewhat removed from him, (loneliness of command, and all that) but all looking toward him. I'd have him with the look he's got here - kind of serious, skeptical, insightful. (He's shown us he can project skills he doesn't really have.) Even with this kind of staging, though, I think Cheney's natural authority might intrude in subtle ways that would reveal themselves as it has in the analysis of this picture.

SEAS: Well done. Cheney's ever-present scowl might also intrude, but in some not-so-subtle ways. Any ideas about how to deal with that? I was wondering if that was why his back is to the camera in this shot.

I was wondering about that clock, too. I guess because I have four school-aged children, all I could see was a cheap yellow pencil sharpener wth two holes - one for pencils, another for crayons or colored pencils - lying on its side. I knew that couldn't really be what it was, lol.

That clock is frustrating, only one hand on the four, is the other hand over it? Could it be broken, unwound, have dead batteries yet still be correct twice a day like its temporary owner.
Its definitely not a pencil sharpener, pencils and erasers haven't been used in the WH since JFK, Jacqueline and the kids left, now it just Rove approved stationary and paper shredders.
SEAS, I like your composition set up but Cheney's still has 'The Force with him' that laser like scowl and hunch are a challenge. How to solve the authority puzzle or neutralize it,is still on the table in the chair labelled # 3 but we see as # 1. Its back to the composition board for you I'm afraid.

I'm certain that no WH photo has ever received as thorough an examination as this one.

Maybe Bush is thinking, "Hey. Dick. Over here. You're doing it again. Why does everything always have to be about you?"

Staged?

With DCIA Tenet wearing a pink tie?

Nah.

Is there something wrong with pink? It looks great with charcoal-gray. Maybe he had a hot dinner date after ditching these bozos.

Yeah, see . . . I don't see how the story this picture tells would be one they wanted to put forward. If it's staged, why stage it like this?

Tenet appears to be trying to convey something to Cheney, and seems a tad frustrated. That's consistent with the narrative that's emerging that the administration cherry-picked intel and disregarded evidence contrary to its position.

Cheney's removed his glasses, Bush is wearing his . . . that seems to indicate that Cheney's got all the information he wants, and Bush is still absorbing. That paper that Bush presumably just finished reading is obviously not central to what Tenet and Cheney are discussing, since Tenet's got another document that he's referring to. So it appears that Bush is a step behind here, still focused on the last bullet point while the others have moved on. What's more, all three men are focused on Cheney, and their eyes lead our eyes to him, making him the focus of the shot.

That all reinforces the notion -- to me at least -- that Cheney's running the show, and Bush is along for the ride.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

My Other Accounts

Twitter
Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 07/2003