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Aug 13, 2005

The "It" Girl



The White House Iraq policy is splintering and all we get is romanticism.  Granted, this was a stunning front page photo the NYT ran yesterday.  But, considering the lead article it accompanied (Bush Cites Gains But Sees No Cuts In Troops In Iraq - link), word and image could not get further apart.


The thing is, one should really try and read these pictures in the context of the story.  And the story is, all that Pentagon talk about troop reductions started making Bush quite uncomfortable (given rising troop loses and Iraqi insurgent and political chaos), so "W" swung more Condi's way with the "stay the course" and "things are getting better" mumbo-jumbo.

(Overall however, it's not clear if Rice has any idea what she's doing.  Lately, she and fellow power tripper and publicity hound, Ambassador Khalilzad, seem to have bet the farm on the harmonious completion and ratification of an increasingly hollow Iraqi constitution.)

So, if you read the picture, what is the narrative exactly?  (Of course -- just like everyone else does -- I intend to ignore the manifest level in which Condi plays the spoiled "it girl," and George gets turned on by it.)  Is the message that Condi has arrived to give George a break from Rummy?  Is the point that, no longer moving forward, it's time for a charm offensive?

The element I find most interesting is that Bush has his back turned.  Since -- for the moment, at least -- he's run out of road with Rumsfeld and the Pentagon (and considering that Cindy Sheehan is virtually in Bush's sight line a little further down the road), he is looking to Condi to bail him out with some diplomatic pitch.

What I don't understand, however, is how the press buys in to this Condi mystique.  When I said this photo was stunning, I was strictly speaking visually.  Otherwise, I don't see what political asset could make Rummy and Bush stop in their tracks.  Unless it's somehow possible to win the peace simply through the accumulation of frequent flier miles, Rice had better be ready to do some fancy dancing along with the smiling.

(image: Mandel Ngan/Agence France Press - Getty Images.  August 12, 2005.  In The New York Times.  p. A1.)


She may be Secretary of State, but I get the feeling Condi is treated with a certain amount of Condescension from these two macho bullies. They're outpacing her, probably laughing at her choice of footware (who wears heels out on a ranch?) and are annoyed that they have to stop and wait for her to catch up.

Does anyone here think, as I do, that there's some hanky panky going on between W and Condi?

Of course, everyone thinks it, including the New York Times. That's why they ran the photo on the front page. It sells papers easier than a photo that would actually mesh with the title of the story. Dano, who yesterday made a point about the Times magazine editors highlighting controversy -- with the monkey/god cover -- so they can sell copy, might agree with me here. Story subtext? Here's comes his girl.

Maybe this shot was taken of Bush's backside to save the public from the awareness that it wasn't just "talk" that was premature?

I don't understand the Condi sex appeal that some male bloggers refer to, I just don't see it. From everything I've read, and the images we've been shown, she is as uptight as they come. Strict daily routine, perma-pressed persona, rigid, stiff, controlled. And not half as smart as her background suggests. Then again, maybe this turns men on?

Hanky panky between W and Condi?

If two asexuals get it on in the desert and everyone's around to see it, does it make a visual?

They're outpacing her, probably laughing at her choice of footware (who wears heels out on a ranch?) and are annoyed that they have to stop and wait for her to catch up.

I agree. Condi looks very soft in this image-- light purple (almost pink!) and white, a nice smile-- This is the cutest I've EVER seen her.

I think they wanted this to play like "Condi come to save the day!" (?) But, I just feel dirty looking at it.

Condi had to look hard all these years since black women tend to get oversexulised or desexulised and for her purposes desexulised worked best.

But she seems to be softening up-- I wonder why.

I see the next Charlie's Angels.

This has BAG written ALL over it.

I think maybe it is the shoes that do the talking here. . .look at the cowboy boots poppin' out just above the pant cuffs, Rummy in runners; no carriage or castle in sight for Condirella, just exactly WHERE is she coming from/going to in those city slippers?

These people are out of step with each other on every account, except in the playful, confident stride through the tidy landscape that hides their disregard for Cindy Sheehan, who waits, not on a vacation but a mission, down the road.

Yes, we see them here, blissful and carefree inside the landscape on a narrow path from which they cannot stray. They do not see nor do they need to, the bloody mess in Iraq, those inconvenient deaths bleeding through the edges of the picture.

And all credit goes to Cindy Sheehan who IS the headline, but in the NYT appears only as the subtext of the mixed message coming straight outa' Texas.

That is a great photo.

Rice looks like a Lilac Cowboy coming from out of nowhere to save the day, smiling and confident. What a gunslinger!!

In the foreground there's the Sherrif and the Deputy turning to her, looking to her for ideas and strength, pleading for help.

Hey fashion experts, what does the footwear say ?? Rice wears open-toed high heeled sexy gunslinger boots, Rumsfeld wears camo boots ready for desert warfare. Bush wears square black under his cowboy bellbottoms. What does it mean?

Now about the Rice /Bush sexual allusions- just think about that, keep that weird little picture in your mind if you dare. Ugh.

Hey fashion experts, what does the footwear say ?? Rice wears open-toed high heeled sexy gunslinger boots, Rumsfeld wears camo boots ready for desert warfare. Bush wears square black under his cowboy bellbottoms. What does it mean?

I think the shoes say it's the new less>angry Condi!

Rummy seems to have on some kind of desert sneakers...

I think bush has on black boots... but they look more like orthos.

I saw this on the front page of the NY Times yesterday, and hoped you would talk about it. To me it looks like parents waiting for the child. I think it make Rice look like just a toy or a cute addition, not a serious partner.

Shoes say it all.
Condi says "Walk a mile in my shoes."

Doubt she walked the walk.
Look back into photo. Where did she walk from in the high heels? nothing but a gravel road.

Do not forsake us, Condoleezza
While Cindy Sheehan's down the road
Do not forsake us, Condoleezza
Help us haul this load

I do not know what hell awaits me
I only know to stay the course
How can I face a mom who hates me
Can't be a human, a craven human
Can't lie a human in my grave

Oh, to be torn twixt love and duty
Supposin' I lose my processed beauty
Look at them spike heels move along
Nearin' high noon

Rummy nailed my ass on Ghraibass prison
Vowed it would be my butt or his'n
I'm not afraid of death but oh
What will I do if they impeach me?

Do not forsake me, Condoleezza
You made that promise for your knee pads
Do not forsake me, Condoleezza
Although you're seethin', don't think of leavin'
Or we'll just have to tan your hide

Open toed heels -- just right for a dirt road in Texas! Is she nuts?

Bush and Boots -- an affectation, but since the heels make him look taller, they are likely his best friend. And Rummy the Runner -- he's likely the most comfortable, though hs choice reminds me of Cheney at Aushwitz.

Bush's back is to you or you'd see that his hand is out and he's saying "C'mon, sweetheart!"

Ya Asta, I can't remember any president other than the current one that has publicly professed his love for an acting Secretary of State - although I think she was just the nominee at the time. Nor do I recall any Secretary of State publicly referring to their president as "my husband." The kisses he gives Condi are a lot hotter than the ones he gives Karen Hughes, or even Laura for that matter. I think it's the way Condi looks like she's purring upon receipt of his kiss. She's like Catwoman amongst her fellow crusaders, especially with some of the outfits she's been seen in.

I'm so glad you posted this one. Yes, WHAT is this about?!?! I think it is about sex: Significantly, the photographer of this photo may be...French.

There have been major threats to Bush's authority this week--confusion over exit strategies, mixed signals over GWOT/GSAVE, dissent in the ranks over stem cells and intelligent design, criticism of his five-week vacation, Rove under fire. People are starting to vocalize opposition to the war started and lost by these national disasters. Bush is looking like a lame duck or a girly man. I see this photo as an attempt to reestabish Bush as manly Man.

I think humans have an evolved fascination with women who have special access to the King. The media just feeds on it: Jackie O, Princess Diana, the Bush Twins. All these princesses need to do is dress up pretty and titillation, the cameras and the fawning attention follow. The only thing unusual about Condi is that she isn't married to Bush.

Sooo... here the photographer evokes the image of a wedding, specifically the moment when the bride comes down the aisle to the eager groom and best man. Look at them!! So Happy together! Bush, the groom/King, is aroused, manly, about to make a conquest of the State! Condi the blushing bride is sharing a private smile with Bush. Rummy the Best Man, an observer like us, is a little off balance: turning back to look at the happy couple. He's outside the dyad: Bush is committing himself to State, not Defense.

In addition to marriage (between a man and a woman) being a favorite topic with Bush's base, weddings evoke automatic comprehension of loyalty, commitment, confidence, fresh new starts, potency & vigor! How could we observers be worried about our Iraq policy?!??

No way there will be no premature withdrawal with Bush, heh!

Rummy looks as though he's about to trip over his own feet. And look at that clenched left fist. Can you say love triangle? How very... French?

Right fist. Right fist.

How gauche of me.

And sinister. That's all. I promise.

The photo is, indeed, visually quite stunning -- indeed, it's a Crawforded version of Venus (not, not the tennis player) coming to shore from the ocean (here the Texas flat country), long a trope (is that the right word) in western art.

Also note the triangular aspect of the picture -- triangles again being a permanent fixture of European painting, including of the Madonna and child.

Less importantly, the photo does raise questions about a Dubya-Condi liaison. She seems genuinely "happy" and "glad to be there," in the presence of our child emperor. We don't see his face, which adds to the mystery. Could he be smiling at her, at last seeing her after waiting for her, longing for her ...

Even less importantly, there is a suggestion of group sex, a recurrent male fantasy. The two tough-talkin' boys are going to enjoy an attractive lady, somewhat exotic looking (from their WASP perspective). So subliminally horny men look at this picture as pornography with clothes on, which in many ways is more titillating that the raw naked stuff on the net. There is a suggestion that Rummy has an erection, although I think the only real sexual stimulation he gets is out of power, the ultimate (only?) aphrodisiac for men his age.

Great piece, btw.

I guess what astounds me, on second glance, is that Condi's hair is blowing in the wind. All this time I thought it was a plastic helmet.

But wait, there's more! The responses to this image have been so rich with insights and sharp-edged humor, I have to respond.

This is much like a word association session, for me anyway, but let's see what happens:

Scorpioss wrote "'Bush's back is to you or you'd see that his hand is out and he's saying "C'mon, sweetheart!'", my initial response was, "Here, Lassie, come here girl, I have a treat for you. Heel, beg, lie down, roll over...".

Mugatea reminded us all about certain outfits we've seen Condi in, and I immediately recalled the "These Boots are Made for Walking" photo when she was in Berlin. I wondered if the Coat Room parked her whips and chains as well.

PTate knocked me over with the Best Man take.

Mr. Man and Ray allude to threesomes in a sexual triangle, which made my skin crawl. An Unholy Trinity? was my associative response. Unholy indeed!

Of course the rewording of the theme song to "High Noon" was brilliant. DrFaustroll, you are gifted.

My synopsis in no way neglects Eva, Kerstin, Mad, bg, etc. All of the responses are so interesting. It's like all of you took a layer of the onion and peeled it back in your own personal POV and revealed more than I could ever see alone.

The French connection

One thing I forgot to mention: This is a very French picture, as one of the commentators mentioned.

Indeed, as someone who grew up in la douce France, I sensed something in the texture, the framing, of the picture that reminded me of the mental landscape that shaped my childhood. I sensed it immediately, but neglected to mention it earlier.

The photo makes la Condi - quelle femme delicate -- look quite francaise. She could be on the way to a bistro to meet her lover. What's the name of the actress with Gary Crant in Charade? That's Condi in this picture, maybe.

So this French (read sex to American minds) connection adds to the kinkiness of the picture, although I can't imagine Dubya making love to Condi in a Paris roof-top apt. Well, maybe Dubya would be ok in a parody of Last Tango in Paris...

Dubya himself is totally sexless -- his only current love being power, his alternative to what he is only truly capable of, preppy-frat house boredom & anomie; had he only stuck to alcohol we'd all be better off.

One final thought and I promise to shut up.

Is there an lesbian element in this picture? Does anyone know if the photo was taken by a woman?

There's a hint of an innocent, attractive, prim little girl (Condi) -- and she looks after half her age -- about to be manhandled by two Ivy League white rednecks. She smiles, but maybe not at them, maybe at the woman taking her picture, perhaps a French lady photographer she somehow recognizes from her foreign trips?

Maybe the picture is a love message from a French lady photographer -- the message being that, once Condi crosses the male "gate" (war-criminal Rummy and mad-cow-boy Dubya), she (Condi) can fall into the arms of her French she-admirer, and will enter the world of Lesbian bliss, or so her French female photographer suggests in the photo.

Quien sabe?

Rice the Murderess looks like a slut from a 'does she or doesn't she?' 1960s ad; the only question is: Is Cowardly George her Object of Desire or one of his vapid drunken daughters?
Whatever, this 'intellectal Soviet Affairs expert,' whose been just as big a lifetime fuckup as Rumsfeld and Cowardly George, is being sexed up.
"Signals" are irrelevant with any Bush analysis. he's just the Manchurian Candidate of the Right. He has no soul.

I dont agree with the posters who view this image as somehow showing Condi in a negative position. She clearly comes across powerful in this photo: Intellectually, Physically and charismatically superior to the others.

I view the picture as saying Bush and RUmsfeld are on thier way out and here comes Condi.

You're looking at the Republican nominee in 2008. Hillary vs Condi and the winner is in the photo above.

The picture enchanted me at first: nice lilac color, great light, invigorating fresh air, big toothy smile, overwhelming feel good factor.

Then I choked on my own thoughts: people having a good time, these very people who have so much to account for. Imagine: a fifty-year-old woman who was never brought to account for frightening the hell out of the U.S. by conjuring up images of mushroom clouds over U.S. cities appears on the front page of the NYT as a sparkling nymphette basking in the warm gaze of two male accomplices, apparently suggesting to observers the still-common mawkish role pattern of strong men attending to the needs of a weak woman who might not be able to keep up with them because of the unsuitable high-heeled shoes she's wearing on a gravel path down on the ranch where only men really know how to survive, shoes which she put on in the first place to please them, reporters, photographer and the world. What a parody of joy, what a total deception for the edification of the NYT readers who don't read anyway. How did this picture come about? Was only one photgrapher allowed access to the three at this point on the road? Was he/she in the employ of a politcal person or group? Was he/she especially close to these politians? I mean: can this picture be rightfully called state propaganda. The picture is like a slap in the face of everyone who is suffering because of their despicable actions, whether dying, fighting, being financially bled to death, whatever. See the people camped out down the road in Crawford.

P.S. Miss Rice is Secretary of State in name only. No one takes seriously.

PTate in MN ~

Yes, a wedding! On Prairie Chapel Road! Perhaps we should throw rice?

Open-toed high heels in gravel? (ouch, ouch, ouch) She'll walk maybe 10 steps before getting dirt and pebbles in them... which will tear her nylons and cause a lot of painful blisters if not dealt with immediately. This is a set-up shot (they haven't really been out for a walk), or her smile is totally forced and frozen on.

Boots would have been a far wiser choice for her out there and nobody would have said anything. But her choice of dress is so inappropriate for a ranch (even a fake ranch) that it is making a statement that she simply does not belong on the land. It is very girlish.

As to Rummy? The other picture in the article indicates that he isn't wearing the regulation flag pin in his lapel, but I can't identify it. He seems out-of-uniform in more ways than one. The clenched fist in the hand hidden from Condi is also interesting.

Nobody has commented yet that Bush's head is cropped off. The ground shot, the boots with heels, the cropping despite his leaning inwards, all go to indicate that he is a tall, tall man. :snicker: Also, is he looking a bit bald up there?

Meanwhile an entire diary could be made of the choice of footwear in these images. The Roberts family with last century's saddle shoes and mary-janes on the kids. Bush with his elevator shoes. Condi and Mrs Roberts being so rich, yet unable to afford to buy coordinating shoes for their outfits (taupe does NOT go with a pink dress, and black heels do not go with summer slacks). I usually don't concern myself with footwear, but the fetishists are undoubtedly having a field day.


Considering what these 'policy makers' were likely discussing, it's a sad day when they pose before cameras and continue to drone on about 'staying the course' and 'America cannot look weak.' What the fuck do they think the US looks like NOW? Are they really convinced that their policies are working, and that the American people and the world at large are in agreement with what they are doing? It's the same old avoidance of reality we have been hearing about for nearly 6 years; trust us, we know what's best, we know what we're doing, everything's fine, might be tough going, but 'stay the course.' What a load of horseshit. Bush is so paranoid about any attempt to articulate his positions on issues like Iraq, the Bolton appointment, the Roberts nomination, not to mention Iran, North Korea and the Israeli pullout, he cannot even face Cindy Sheehan! These clowns are destroying any sense of credibility your nation once enjoyed. Failure is not a means of summoning support; the only ones apparently unaware of it reside within the administration. As to the photo, I see only the 3 Stooges, without the comedy; NYUK NYUK NYUK....

My first impression (since even here Condi is about as sex-up-able as Uncle Leo) was "W sure must have a thing about people with huge heads!" Look at the melons on Condi and Rummy in this picture. Then look at W's proportionately small head.

Beyond that, although clearly this photo was intended to say something about the SecState, it looks to me like Rummy isn't looking at her but at W. Thus the real focus of this triangle is the Prez. Condi flashes one of her rare smiles at the Prez; Rummy looks hopefully at him and gets rebuffed by the Prez who only has eyes for her.

However, as has been noted several times, where the heck is she coming from? There's nothing back there, so she has to have been following them (noisily so) for a good 15 minutes to reach this status. Just now they turn to greet her? What kind of story is this picture showing? Here's my version: Rummy managed to cut W from the threesome out for a walk, lured him ahead by walking faster and whispering sweet ravings in his ear, until at some point Condi calls "Hey, what are you guys talking so intently about? Wait for me." To which W turns and replies "Sure, little lady, any time!" And Rummy looks on hangdog realizing that that was IT for any serious opportunities to get some work (read, influencing) done on this particular working-vacation day at the ranch.

...and by the way, is that another of the rectangular lumps on W's back? Maybe that thing IS a defibrillator and not an walkie talkie...

The photo is so visually stunning, that when I saw it on the front oage of NYT, I knew there would a discussion about it here.

Later yesterday, I saw the TV coverage of Rummy, Bush and Condi where this photo was taken. The photo is cropped just so that the scene on the left of Rummy is not visible. What this picture left out was that behind Rummy was a huge vehicle from which Cheney was emerging on one side and Richard Meyers was coming out from the other (May be they were on the back seat of the vehicle). When I saw the TV, it did not seem so odd. Strange how Cheney got left out of the other image that appeared in the Times as well.

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