NOTE: BagNewsNotes is now located at Please update your bookmarks.

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

« Fashion Of The Times | Main | All The Equivalence That Fits To Print »

Sep 19, 2006

More On The Foot Race In Virginia


The pen is back!!

I doubt Spanish customs was getting much use out of my drawing pad, but its now been restored to the proper hands.  So, on to Sunday's debate, and the under-the-table dynamics of Allen - Webb.

RaisingKaine did a perfectly decent job on the surface leather.  Here's the treatment:

On the one hand (or, more accurately, foot), we've got a fake "cowboy" named George Allen.  The guy's not a cowboy, he grew up in Southern California NOT Virginia, he's gung-ho about war but has never himself served, etc. etc.

On the other hand (er, foot), we've got combat boots and a REAL soldier named Jim Webb.  Why is Webb wearing these boots?  To honor his son, Jimmy, a Marine currently stationed "in harm's way" over in Iraq.  Jimmy's dad, of course, served with extraordinary valor in Vietnam, winning the Navy Cross, Silver Star, and numerous other medals for heroism.

At The BAG, however, it's our job to push things a step further.

In this case, I've done a little behavioral footwork on Allen.  At this level, how do you size either man?

(image: Kevin Wolf/Associated Press.  September 17, 2006.  Washington.



I would appreciate your analysis of the booted gentleman. What has all his experience taught him? I think his feet show thoughtfulness, an ability to listen and self control...

Both of these guys are wearing boots, but neither are doing the kind of work that would demand such utilitarian footwear. The one wearing cowboy boots is wearing cowboy boots. Nothing more to say about that. But the one wearing combat boots---apparently the favored gentleman around here---is still wearing combat boots. Anti-war in the garb of a hawk. Not my style. He doesn't have his feet on the ground. Perhaps that position is the equivalent of biting one's tongue. . . ?


Allen's boots aren't utilitarian footwear; they're the shiny, showy, probably expensive cowboy boots that politicians favor. I don't know why a politician running in Virginia would favor them, though; Virginia has its rural areas, but it's not exactly cowboy country. Maybe he wants to be like Bush - not that that will help him any these days. (Here's Bush wearing cowboy boots with the presidential seal on them.)

Webb's combat boots are pushing it - are they too gimmicky or not? I guess any candidate who's speaking against the war in Iraq has to prove his or her military credentials, and he's reminding everyone of his.

Allen's boots look rigid and inflexible. They're the dressy style of cowboy boots--more meant for show than anything else. In contrast, Webb's boots are flexible and utilitarian. They're scuffed and worn-looking. Webb's sitting in a restless and alert position as opposed to Allen's static pose. Keir points out that Webb doesn't seem to have his feet on the ground, but this reinforces the idea that he's a man who's flexible, open to change and capable of moving quickly if need be. It's touching that he wears the boots as a tribute to his son and as a way of staying close to him--it's such a loving gesture (and the sort of superstitious thing parents do when they're worried about their children and hoping they'll be safe).

The business suit with cowboy boots look is, IMHO, every bit as contrived and disconnected as the Italia Vogue GWOT chic from yesterday's Fashion of the Times. Business dress projects image over utility, a handy way to let everyone know you're an important person doing important stuff. Substituting cowboy boots lets everyone know you'll have nothing to add to the discussion once it moves off "man talk".

Webb's footwear is a fashion equivalent of "statement against interest" where the shine of wear replaces the sheen of polish. In TV Lawyer Legal Practice a statement against interest doesn't require corroboration, it is trust worthy on its face. Don't know how this plays with a mass audience, it works for me.

(Georgie looks like a little boy in short pants in the Presidential Seal picture. Subversive Amazon book reviewer Henry Raddick on tux with cowboy boots.)

The boots Allen is/was wearing are often called 'shit kickers'.
Read into that what you like.

I see an insecure male sitting next to a secure one.

Neither pair of feet has what I would think the most common arrangement: feet side-by-side, pointing forward.

The cowboy boots have one foot in front of another, which suggests the pose of a fashion model, who never stands with feet side by side and square.

The combat boots have such softness in the uppers that they seem almost like sneakers. The pose has a faint hint of little-boyness to it also. I could almost see those feet swinging back and forth idly.

Whatever else he might be, the person wearing the cowboy boots is relaxed. different societies and cultures they might wear ...feathers.

"Walk a mile in their shoes," goes the axiom. Oh, that saying is from another nation of primitives we obliterated from the planet.

just another snot nosed silver spoon in his mouth republican trying to be a cowboy.

I'm surprised by Webb's foot posture (although unsure whether he thought it would be noticed) -- it seems like a position that would be more typical for a student or other adolescent than for an adult. However, that can also be a comfortable position, and maybe these things get long and make you feel antsy. Both sets of boots look like costumes to me, given that they're accompanied by suits, but I agree that Webb's look more broken in and functional, and it matters that he's admitted they're a statement thing, rather than just trying to pass them off as a natural part of himself...

As a short person, it seems obvious to me that the seat is too high for Webb to comfortably rest his feet on the floor. I am reminded of the '92 Presidential Debate in which the Clinton campaign chose the stage setup. They purposely selected tall stools that had the effect of making Ross Perot appear awkward and unstatesmanlike.

Cynical Alert: whether in pull up or lace up, new or old, kick up or crossed boots I note two calculated and contrived images. Together these two politicians represent an ideal composite of Paul "Jerry" Bremer III, both in their checkered individual past histories and in future strategies for Iraq.

Webb said the United States should begin moving troops to friendly Arab countries and seek the help of Iraq's neighbors, including *Iran and Syria*.-WP interview

How likely is this to happen, what about the fortified Green Zone and 4 permanent military bases ? Lets assume a miracle solves these questions, then it gets more complex when dealing the legacy of former Pro Consul, Paul "Jerry" Bremer III.

"The Coalition Provisional Authority under Bremer issued 100 Orders : C #39 privatization of Iraq's 200 state-owned enterprises; 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; national treatment of foreign firms; unrestricted, tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and 40-year ownership licenses," (and other draconian measures which completed the material rape of Iraq were 40, 49, 12, 17, 81,--jt). (for fwiw the oil industry has avoided nationalization to date)

Given a choice of only Allen or Webb I would vote Webb and temporarily believe in miracles.

Ah, shoes as a metaphor for politics. My favorite image is the Pulitzer Prize winner of Adlai Stevenson with a hole in his shoe:

Stevenson supporters even made campaign pins out of it:

So it comes down to boots...
If you did not know the names of the persons wearing those boots, would you be making the same kind of conclusions?
Are we adjusting the symbols for already known characters to make the symbols fit?
As was already pointed here by JT...about Bremer and his boots, and Webb's "solution" to US Iraq seems Webb is not quite clear what he will do or he does not want to be specific...
Is it really politically impossible to simply state "Lets get out of Iraq" in a plain language? After all he is the good guy? So, can we trust him?

Lytom > pleased you understood my comment, for brevity I cut out the following;

"Known for sporting his Brooks Brothers suits and desert combat boots while in Iraq (*boots believed to have been bronzed for the grandchildren). Within the CPA, this was known as the "Bremer Look". (also wiki)

Now theres a *trophy for Bremers IV, etc

Are those boots made from kosher leather?

Anyway, after Adlai Stevenson, a photo of a shoe is just a photo of a shoe.

If I didn't know the two politicos were sitting down, I would have said that Mr. Shiny New Cowboy Boot is getting ready ready to walk put of there. The Mr. Combat Boots has put his feet in a position that seems consciously relaxed. Mr Cowboy Boots is jabbing the air with his finger, saying, "I've got to make my point." Combat boots is saying, "Stay calm, stay focused, don't loose it now."

Doctor Jay: "The combat boots have such softness in the uppers that they seem almost like sneakers."

I noticed that, too. Are they really what's worn in combat? They don't seem to offer any support at all around the ankles, unless it's because these are very old and worn.

Virginia is horse country, so I've been told. Allen is doing all he can to go native, since he was raised in California. I wonder if he's ever been on a horse?? These boots look like the kind one wears to go line dancing. Webb's boots are well-worn combats worn by his son. By making this public he's saying, one of us has a stake in this war, and it's obvious which one. Neither rises to the level of Stevenson. But what do they say about the wearer?

I can't really get into the position, since (as a long-time chair-sitter) positions of the foot change frequently, sometimes constantly, and this shot is just 1/60th of one second out of probably over an hour. But the selection of footwear is more interesting. The cowboy boots are not worn by someone going to ride a horse, or going line dancing, or even going out to inspect the back 40. They are worn to impress the wealthy republicans in north Virginia; that he is really one of them. He is trying to be what the boots say about him. The fact that there have been several faux pas' in his campaign is indicative that he's not quite all that.

The combat boots say a little more about the man wearing them. First is the obvious one that he has a personal connection to someone in Iraq, 'boots on the ground,' if you will. There is also a certain unselfconsciousness about wearing them and, perhaps, a certain confidence. This man is probably pretty up-front about who he is and is comfortable with that. His connections to family are real and he's not going to deny that. These shoes are closer to who he really is.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

My Other Accounts

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 07/2003