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Aug 21, 2008

Your Turn: What's In A Background

Obama Vfw

Bush Vfw 2

Mccain Vfw

Do you have to be a veteran (or CIC) to get the full background treatment?  McCain addressed the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention this past Monday, Obama spoke to the group on Tuesday, then Bush came in on Wednesday.

  I was interested in your take on the different backgrounds, the possible practical versus political rationales for the differences, as well as your thoughts on the specific content of the backgrounds.  (Most of the shots of McCain, I should add -- whether tighter, horizontal or vertical -- seem to show the soldiers on Iwo Jima embedding the flag into the candidate.)

For a full look at the Obama podium,  check here.  And here is a wide angle view of the background behind McCain, a man from the days of black-and-white -- unless that just reflects his thinking process.  And finally, here's a link to Obama's speech, if just to prove his background never changed.

(image 1: Getty Images. Aug. 19, 2008. Orlando, Fla.  image 2:  John Raoux/AP.  Aug. 20, 2008. Orlando, Fla. image 3: John Raoux/AP.  Aug. 18, 2008. Orlando, Fla.)


Raising the flag over McCain. OK...

I'm also struck by the obviousness of the teleprompter. Another puppet president, indeed.

Looks to me like Obama has a clean slate, while McCain guarantees us more war. Joy.

While listening to an interview on POTUS 08 with the top man in the VFW, his stubborn, solid support for McCain came through very clearly. He justified McCain's vote against Jim Webb's bill (McC preferred that a new GI bill require a longer term of service before eligibility) but had nothing to say about all McCain's votes against veterans' healthcare increases, toeing the administration line.

Among the questions asked were ones about VFW membership, which is over a million, WW II vets are dying at a rate of 1,000 a day, according to the spokesman, so the membership is in decline. I'd say the plain vanilla background for Obama is a piece of propaganda denoting lack of enthusiasm: just words, just the name of the organization, as in the myriad Washington think tanks when holding a panel discussion.

I saw the speech and heard reprises so that I know Obama received applause throughout. The VFW president chose to mention the group's applause for McCain instead. I think he was very biased.

As they say, background is foreground.

Obama needs to hire someone to get on this background issue.

The Republican speakers are visually drowning in background images. All those pictures may give people in the hall something to occupy their minds, something to think about while the yada-yada of non-speech pours out from the little lecterns. Note that the Republican speaker backdrop images are about the audience and seem to be looking to the past, towards nostalgia with a measure of air-brushing.

I see it simply as: McCain and Bush are trying to make a show of their strength, courage and hawkish behaviour. The images draw attention away from them and speak louder than what they are saying. Obama does not wish to glorify warfare and wants people to pay attention to his calm rationale.

Maybe they just wanted to lose Bush and McCain in those backgrounds ;)Seriously, don't they both look tiny next to those huge graphics? To me, the plan to glorify them backfired. Obama looks dignified in comparison.

I'd be interested in knowing who was in charge of the backdrop. Did Obama have any choice? It's been almost twenty years since I planned any event, but don't they have rear projection-type BG panels now? If the VFW does it without input from the speaker, then it seems a really mean and small thing to do. OTOH, did Obama request that nothing special be done, fearing he would be criticized for it by McC? Or did he just not care, as with the flag pin? If so, it seems shortsighted.

Specifically, as for the McC background, it sure looks like those guys are saluting McC. Don't suppose Rove had anything to do with that! It all looks like part of his campaign theme.

Like I wrote, a wise person once said "background is foreground."

I actually find the simple background for Obama and advantage for him, because it forces the attention to HIM. The other two backgrounds leave the impression of "there's a speaker there?" It doesn't strike as being the most effective marketing to create a "Where's Waldo" effect.

On the other hand, if Bush or McCain are seen as a part of some grand mural, that does seal their brand fairly effectively, so they could probably say something completely inappropriate or outlandish, and no one would realize it because they have been marinating in a visual bath of "Old Glorious Republic" to the point of stupor.

Obama looks tired, and the rows of words in the background look like a spreadsheet. The overall effect suggests wonky bureaucracy. I happen to love that and wish for a good wonky bureaucrat for problems as technical as meeting veterans' needs. But I am given to understand that my tastes aren't universal.

For the other two backgrounds? I wasn't as sensitized to this before this election and it isn't my default interpretation (no matter how often I repeat myself here), but I am getting really tired of being bludgeoned by hyper-masculinity.

The Bush/McCain backgrounds look like big time book covers.
Makes them look like stories.

I agree with Megan's wonky bureaucracy comment.
Powerpoint like, dull as your next meeting.
Makes him look like a small market anchor man.

sorry to comment twice but noticed that the crest, seal, icon in the Bush photo is different in the McCain image.
The events and related (3) photos, are from August 18,19,20.
So, they had three different visual identities in three days?
That takes some work.

steve, I noticed the different crests too. They both spell out (I photoshop) VFW of the US. Aside from additional froofroo, it looks like the one in The W's BG has an extra circle above the eagle, which may be a replica of the presidential seal. Maybe someone with high resolution can check that out. IWC, it would seem to me that the VFW is responsible for the BG, probably working with the WH staff or McCrankypants' staff. Was such courtesy offered to Obama???

Megan : “I am getting really tired of being bludgeoned by hyper-masculinity...

touché! Madame Megan.

fwiw, It is nowadays often referred to as "the politics of anxious masculinity". We note that even that Dem-Fem icon, Hillary Rodham Clinton became, in the course of her Democratic Primary campaign a de facto ‘trans-gender’ candidate.

Interestingly, Clinton's core (baby boomer women) supporters embraced their leader's (= their own identities; not "I support Clinton," but "I AM a Hillary supporter") gender change, apparent in much the same way as they embraced "masculinization" back in the 60's-80's as a means to their cause of Women's Liberation end ~ even to the extent of adopting masculine fashions and styling cues (we remember not only 'burning their bras' but also the Phoenix 'pant-suits' rising from those ashes, soon to be followed by 'shoulder pads', as if to bulk-up their deltoids, and spread the latissimus out like a King Cobra).

Whereas nowadays many more younger women revel in their gender ~ home-makers sans les hommes, merci ~ And see no reason to adopt masculine attributes to project their own sense of selves as powerful characters in their own right. ironically (in TheStates at least) you all now dress as identifiably uniform (what with your denim and 3rd World sweatshop cotton 'gym clothes') in the eyes of the world as the Chinese used to look when they were all wearing the same, olive-drab outfits as your genderless blue-jeans and Corporate Logo-laden branded T-Shirts do now express: this really weird, mass conformity about which you Americans seem entirely unaware, and unashamed.

otoh, No where elsewhere is there anywhere near the HOPE that "the politics of nurturing femininity" will happen than in the USA. Everyone Over There is looking at you all, Over Here ~ really, really looking hard for any sign that you (women) will liberate us (men) from the curse of this warrior's ethos cross we are so cruelly forced to bear lifelong as damned penance undeserved for having a penis.

The background used for Obama as seen here was also used behind Congr. Chet Edwards when he received the 2008 VFW Congressional Award, behind Lt.Gen. Eric Schoomaker, M.D., Surgeon General of the U.S. Army, and behind Gordon England, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense. (I stopped checking after looking at the opening of those three videos.)


Perhaps, as Steve suggests, different backgrounds were used for each day of the event.

I though maybe it was reserved for actual veterans since Sen. Obama has no military service.

well, Lance, that would rather leave one wondering about Bush's background, wouldn't it?

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