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Oct 21, 2004

Bush Unplugged

The main question underlying my ongoing critique of the NYTimes' political photo coverage is, Why does Kerry keep coming off worse than Bush?

One angle to consider (pardon the pun) is that practical factors play a significant part. For example, one of my visitors last week suggested that the Bush campaign is so highly managed, it's really not possible to come up with unguarded shots. I think the reasons are probably more complex, but I don't dispute it's harder to truly capture Bush. (After all, isn't that why the debates were so unique?)


If Bush is that "locked down," then the NYTimes went the extra mile yesterday. Besides redeeming themselves with a more respectful shot of Kerry, they actually caught Bush with the curtain pulled back.


In this picture, a member of Bush's goon squad is having to pry a supporters hand off the President's arm. What interests me is how the robo-Bush keeps going (or posing), business as usual. That's probably because of his absolute, ever-present concern to maintain appearances from the "approved" site lines.


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"Goon squad" – probably not the most polite thing to call members of the Secret Service.

"...they actually caught Bush with the curtain pulled back..."

Revealing...what? That the Secret Service has a "hands off The Man" policy, and (with good reason) enforces that policy rigorously? Especially with respect to the current POTUS?

The big differences in that "more respectful shot of Kerry are: 1) Kerry's not wading through a crowd, but rather is located behind two intersecting fences (it appears), with the crowd at some distance; 2) The "goon squad" (as you so doltishly put it) is right there - at the fence - but no one's trying to put the arm on Kerry, so they're at ease.

Or would you have people believe that Bush makes the rules where the Secret Service's protection is concerned?

No, I'd have to say that that photo says a lot. Not so much that the agent is removing the fan's hand. But that Bush just keeps waving, not paying attention to the person actually holding his arm. I don't know.. Maybe I'm too making a mountain out of a molehill, but it just seems so... callous and scripted. In a sense, they aren't fans- they're props. And I know, the same exists for both candidates. But... this picture sort of hits me with that thought.

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