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Sep 16, 2005

Bush's N.O. Restart -- A Visual Report Card

(Bloggers Note:  Before anybody gets crazy on me, I'm just having a little fun here.  It's Friday. ...And, consider the material I have to work with!)


I've been throwing so much analysis at you this week, I thought it was time for the visuals to do more of the talking.  (Of course, if you have different ideas about the grading, you know I've always considered the BAG a communal effort.)

Unless you left the planet, you know that last night marked the official restart of the Bush/Rove "I've Got It Right This Time" New Orleans Recovery Campaign.  And how about that backdrop for Dubya's speech!  You've gotta love the pastels, the green/blue combination, that outdoor lighting (someone's got the power back on) -- and who ever thought about accessorizing with a building.  Calling Robin Givhan!

I don't know Jackson Square so I can't comment on the symbolic significance of the statue, but hey, do you think the White House knows either? Overall, I was going to give it an "A."  But that was before I heard from Aron, one of my readers, who pointed out that the clock stayed stuck at 6:40 during Bush's entire infomercial.  Someone find out who got the no-bid contract for the time piece!


Here's Bush getting off the plane.  Love that Presidential seal.  Somehow, it works better here than it did on Bush's jacket during his fly-over a couple weeks back.  Finally, a guy ready for the hard work!


And this you've got to love.  It's the political version of make-up sex with Democratic Governor Blanco.  After seeing such an intense example of bipartisanship, I guess the only question is: when does he add her to the rolodex?

(image 1: Videoclip. Bush: 'Great City Will Rise Again.'  September 16, 2005.  image 2: REUTERS/Larry Downing.  Mississippi, September 15, 2005. At YahooNews. image 3:  REUTERS/Larry Downing.  USS Iwo Jima. September 15, 2005. At YahooNews.)


I'm afraid I'd give the visuals an D-. Yes the colors are nice.

But to hear this faux-Southern Republican carpetbagger talking about "reconstruction" and vowing that the devastated area will "rise again", even without visuals, makes me shudder, especially after Katrina stripped away the faux civility of the Right to expose the most hideous racism I've heard in the past forty years: Goldberg, Brooks, Tierney, Blitzer, and of course the usual suspects Hannity, Matthews, Limbaugh, O'Reilly egging it on.

Add to that the visuals: antebellum structure with a clock (time) that is stopped, the ghostly statue reminding one of the pre-pickup truck days of the Klan, palmetto trees reminescent of Charleston, SC and the onset of the Civil War.

And Karl Rove in charge of Reconstruction.


Okay, Kerstin, the Ron Popeil image is hysterical. You've made my day. Thanks!

What strikes me about the image is all the light blue. Light blue, of course, is the color of trust and induces positive mood. The campaign to rehabilitate GWB's reputation is well under way! The saturated color in these pictures is communicating: "Trust me! Be happy! Trust me! Be Happy! Trust me!"

In the picture with Gov Blanco, Bush is in absolute control of the handshake--look how he is leaning in and how he has gripped her hand. Is this man in charge or what?

Why don't I feel any safer??

Wow, the contrived colour matching just screams out,
"I am one with New Orleans"

They should hand out Gravol for the nauseating spin.

So ... did he mis-button his shirt, or not?

In the first photo, Bush is awkward, uncomfortable, his head thrust forward, looking simian and deer-in-the-headlights at the same time. The deserted setting is almost bizarre. Why speak about bringing aid to a million people when there is no one there? One is reminded that Bush still cannot take the risk, politically, of an encounter with the real-life New Orleanians who've been affected by the disaster.

And how strange it is that Bush's shirt is buttoned incorrectly, with one button left undone on the right side of his shirt and two buttonholes left undone on the left side. After the stories of the last week, one wonders if Bush's aides were afraid to tell him of the gaffe and risk his wrath.

In the third photo, I agree that Bush is attempting the political version of make-up sex. But from Blanco's body language, I think the sex is unwanted. While Bush is leaning into Blanco's space, she is not reciprocating. Instead of leaning forward, she is ramrod-straight, her chin tucked in self-protectively. Her arm, and the hand that Bush is shaking, is drawn across her body in a further gesture of self-protection. The scene reminds me of an immature high school boy trying to put the make on an unenthusiastic young lady. Ew. Yuck.

Plus I wonder ... how many location scout$ were involved in finding that location, setting it up, figuring out how many generators it would take to light up the building appropriately with blue lights, and pull in that palm tree just to Bush's left.

Magnificent stage setting. Maybe Condi was in NYC recruiting the stage designer from Spamalot.

It did seem like Bush had spent a few hours memorizing the stupid speech, for a change. Or maybe they've figured out how to do brain implants for such things now.

I keep thinking that Bushco will turn things around, spin it so it looks good, and somehow they keep dropping the ball. When I first saw the setting for this speech, I thought... "You have GOT to be kidding me!" NoLa is a complete and utter disaster zone where horrifying levels of poverty have been exposed, and what does Bushie do? He chooses the one place in the city reeking of affluence and priviledge, the place that appears to be utterly untouched by the storm, to look crisp and clean and tell us how hard he's working.

I just feel like Karl is dropping the ball on this one.

Then again I heard someone say "Since when is Bush such a bad president," about the Kanye West thing... the levels of ignorance in this country are truly astonishing.

the statue behind Bush is of Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. Jackson merged his 'american' forces with the french, spanish, creole, black and other flavorsof new orleanian to create an army cohesive enough to defeat a much larger and better equipped british force. Bush is trying to link himself as the new hero for the new battle of new orleans, though i don't think Bush gets that cohesion thing though. the colors are funny; its almost as if they initially thought to use CARNIVAL colors (purple, gold and green) and then somebody clued in that it would be, uh, a little frivolous in light of the disaster so they stuck with just the PURPLE scheme. It also reminds me of the glow one sees driving in the suburbs of darkened houses illuminated only by tv sets. Trust your tv folks...i AM the hero are getting sleepy and soon you will be flapping your arms and pretending you are a chicken...

I am just really curious about what happened to Bush's head? Does anyone else see how big his head is for his shoulders? It is especially apparent in the still but even the video shows it to some extent.

The whole setting looks like one of those amusement park photo things where you can poke your head into a hole cut into a cardboard scene and appear to be a body-builder or something.

I would like to see the long shot of Bush that we got to see last night just before he settled in to talk. We can see the presidential seal on the podium. Bush looks incredibly funny with the big podium in front and the big statue and church behind. I wish the camera had stayed on him like that all night, revealing him for the pea brain that he is.

What is up with Bush and the backgrounds? Look at this site, this guy has Bush behind backgrounds - like he is trying to sell something!

I think Bush's head looks bigger because it's all in warm colors. The entire background, the black night sky, his blue shirt, the green plants, are all cool colors. Warm colors advance, cool colors recede. Thus, his head looks ... well ... as stupid as it is, bigger than ever, advancing toward you, and totally out of place.

Please keep the visual analysis coming thick and fast. A fantastic contribution to understanding the political spin within visual communication.

I only caught small clips of the speech but, what I did see a B+ is awfully kind. I don't disagree with the use of color and setting to create a feeling as mentioned but, Bush seemed very odd. Like he was somehow mechanical under that shirt. His head seemed to be set upon the rest of him...wait, no...set upon the body of something else or someone else.

He looked weak and lost. Which suprised me. Usually his handlers are very good at making him look much better.

Hey over at the Daily Kos someone noticed that his shirt is buttoned wrong. Did he do that himself?

I too thought he was at Disneyland when I saw clip of it last night and thought something else fitting... when Saturday Night Live taped it's only live show outside of New York it was in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and the opening of the show was with Dan Ackroid (sp?) sitting atop that statue in that square. Maybe Bush should have said... Live from New Orleans it's Thursday Night.

A carefully staged set, creating a sober mood, framing the serious work ahead. A stage set lit just long enough for Bush's speech, according to Brian Williams blog that's Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News, which reads:
"I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions."

Andrew Jackson was also responsible for the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of Southeastern tribes from their supposed treaty-protected homelands.

I think the blue shirt on blue background was a major production design/wardrobe blunder, as previously noted, making his head appear to float disembodied. Could the fine-tuned PR machine be finally slipping gears?

The shirt is a disaister and the buttons are wrong! he screwed that one from the bottom up, not just the last few buttons, I just did it myself to reassure myself it wasn't just a bad blurry pic.

Oh god the man's a maggot...

I was going to say what Mo said, the lights went out an hour after bush left. Also, no one mentions the cross that floats above his head on the left. It's on the steeple, very faint in the photo, but brighter in the video. I think the clock is significant in a couple ways: time stopped for many NO citizens; Bush didn't send relief in a timely fashion to save lives; Bush lives in a bizarro world where he's out of step with everyone else... I like the tv in darkened living rooms image, also. I watched the speech on our spanish cable channel (I don't speak it) and it was much more lively, but his mouth is in a perpetual frown, even his smirk didn't move much with the words he was saying. He looked very drugged.

Yes It looked like he was talking from Disneyland and that his mommy let him button his shirt himself!

The manner in which he spoke - reading a teleprompter, shows they will not let him speak on his own, he has no idea what he is saying until he says it - it may not kick in even then. He is not a leader, or a good reader.

Hey, Mr. Bagnews Guy, I found the bookend to that "Walking forthrightly down the gangplank next to the Presidential Seal."

The statue of Andrew Jackson can also have an unintentional recollection of Jackson being the president who finished off the Cherokee tribe by marching them on the Trail of Tears. It is something that perhaps Bush's handlers wouldn't want to remind us of since I expect that the George Bush Trail of Fears will end in a forced relocation of the many poor black New Orleanians to a government reservation (read: unoccupied military bases.)

Hmmm.... big head or shrinking shoulders due to his increasingly badly slumped posture?

Looks like Andrew Jackson's horse is going to plant some hooves in his head.

Brownie the Arabian Horse Man's subtle revenge? ;-)

Re: Brian C.B.'s sweaty photo:

Could one man look more defeated, more swallowed up by his own surroundings?

I believe there is an exact replica of that 1842 Jackson statue in Lafayette Park, near the White House.

More on Jackson and unintentional symbolism:

The statue commemorates Jackson as hero of the Battle of New Orleans -- fought two weeks after the ware was over. (The treaty which ended the War of 1812 had been signed two weeks earlier.)

The United States government had been reluctant to send military support to protect the "western" lands (Tennessee and Kentucky), so Jackson paid for the Tennessee militia out of his own funds.

Jackson won the most number of votes in his first Presidential election and the most electoral votes, but because it wasn't a majority in the electoral college (4 way race) the race was decided by the House of Representatives and handed to John Quincy Adams -- the only other son of a President to occupy the White House.

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I posted a comment on Daily Kos earlier pointing out the similarity between Bush and "Pat" from Saturday Night Live - big mistake on their part.

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