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Oct 30, 2005

Your Turn: Rove View Mirror


If there's one image I found most interesting over the past few days, it's this one, from Friday's NYT -- published the morning of the Fitzgerald press conference.

Considering the number of photos I mull over, my reaction to this one was unique.  When I came across it in the paper, I instantly felt it was perfect.  At the same time, however, I keep coming up with conflicting explanations as to why. 

Given the incisive job you did on the DeLay and Bush/Bono post last weekend, I'm going to leave this visual in your hands.

(Not to contaminate the conversation, but I thought I'd also toss in one political angle making the rounds.  According to Jeralyn at TalkLeft, via Hullabaloo, she thinks the reason Rove wasn't charged is because he's made a deal with Fitzgerald.)

What is so telling about this?

(revised 10/30/05 9:02 am PST)

(image; Doug Mills/NYT.  October 28, 2005.  White House.  New York Times. p. A14.)


Because the perspective is one of watching Karl "go away," or to be more precise, "getting away." And look at that grin; he's laughing at us once again as he makes a clean getaway.

That Karl has no future...all that's in front of him is a grey formless void.

He's looking into the mirror and seeing his entire political career (maybe his life as he knows it?) behind him.

Dear BAGnewsNotes:

Your analysis of political images is awesome, but everytime you linger on the first person (which is quite often, especially while describing how past photos along similar lines have been analyzed...who needs that?), people like me cringe. Puh-leaze! Focus on the pics, not yourself, if possible?! I realize that the blogosphere is becoming a vapid ego-fest, but still, give it a shot: less first-person, more image analysis. You don't have to introduce every analysis with a memoir. It's a thought.

Kai Chang
Greenwich, CT

"Objects in mirror are closer than they appear."

I think of this as chasing the guy in slow motion. The past week (before the Fitzgerald news conference) we were all speculating about who would be indicted and under what charges. Here's Rove slowly pulling away from the net, but we're not yet sure of the outcome.

The other image which comes to mind: The Wizard of Oz. ("Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.") Most of the images I've seen of Rove are of him as puppeteer--Bush's Brain standing behind the President at a news event--or in the control booth as we see him here, safely inside a metal cage, manipulating his image using mechanical optics. (Remember that shot of him pulling out of his driveway in his Jag a couple of weeks ago?)

I also like how his image is so tightly framed in the mirror here, like he's trapped. It's not really clear who's controlling the narrative anymore--he's smiling in his own car mirror, but the photographer had to position himself just right to get this shot. Maybe Rove is trapped in his own media manipulation?

Also: Was it in Superman where criminals were condemned to float around for an eternity trapped in oblong prisms?

Rove as evil gremlin floating around, disemboweling various political opponents- and even an entire political party.

You wouldn't want this face floating around in your nightmares.

But........ Rove knows this photo is being taken, and he is putting on his game face. Looks to me like there is considerable tension there, this is not a happy face.

Future is indeed very grey, with even darker shadows.

Regarding comments above by Kai Chang: points are valid, but I myself appreciate comments by BagMan. They help to set the stage for analysis by him and others, they give context to what is going on in his mind, our minds and in the "real world". BagMan is the guy picking the photos and is the center of the site. I don't think that he overdoes it, but there is always that danger........

Kai Chang: different folk, different strokes! I like it when the Bag reflects on his personal experience. For me, how he chooses photos is part of the analysis--by showing one thing rather than another he is directing our analysis. I find it helpful when his thought process--or intuition--is transparent.

Re this rather surreal picture: When I first looked at the picture I couldn't perceive what it was. My brain's first take was that Rove was peering out at us from a spacesuit.

What struck me then was the gap between headline and photo. The headline is "Cheney aid indicted" but the photo is of Rove. One automatically assumes that the text and the photo have something in common. But this rather odd photo is of Rove peering back at us from a car's rear view mirror. This suggests that Libby is irrelevant--Rove is the man in the driver's seat.

I like asx's and Smasher's "making a clean getaway" interpretation. But--perhaps because my brain was still trying to figure out what Karl was doing in a space suit--I was aware of a human inside a machine. The human himself is invisible to us, all we can see is his reflection.

So too with this investigation of conspiracy and treason in the White House: The driver is invisible to us. All that we on the outside see are these glimpses of the driver from the rear-view and a sense that we are being driven in the wrong direction.

I don't see this as Rove getting away, but I do see it as Rove is the one who drives the car.

Disembodied, trapped, backward-looking--the interior forced into the exterior, turned inside-out, vulnerable and overextended, without support.

Makin' a clean getaway.

Ha! Thought you had me, didn' ya? You hoped and prayed that I was going DOWN.

Buh-bye, suckahs!

PT points out the discrepancy between the headline and the image of Rove. We can elaborate on what the headline doesn't say, but what we suspect--"Cheney Aide Appears Likely to be Indicted in Leak Case (After Being Stabbed in the Back by Rove)." The wily Rove has left Libby holding the bag and rat-like, scurried back off into the shadows. When I saw this photo, my first thought was of the Evil Queen in "Snow White" and her strategic appearances in the magic mirror. And in his role as the Evil Queen, Rove carries a big bag of poisoned apples that he gives out to members of Congress, media and the public.

This picture looks photoshopped. Possibly, Rove's face was overexposed in the original image and the photographer had to burn in Rove's face in order to get detail. Rove's face looks even more fat and splotchy than usual. He's putting on weight--either he's eating a lot of junk food or he's on medication. He smirks confidently at us as he pulls away in his Jaguar. He still has the capacity to evade us in his refracted world of mendacity and fraud.

My first reaction wasn't of "making a getaway", but rather "you don't want to see this guy backup up at you...he'd just as soon run you over as look at you." When does somebody REALLY look into the rearview...when they're backing up. So my first thought was "I wouldn't want to be the photographer taking this one." Wonder if he made it out alive.

Second reaction was blatant photoshop.

Hindsight is 20/20?

He's the Cheshire Cat.

In this case, I have to agree with Kai (especially about the 'sphere's "esteem-inflation problem"). I do like to use my experience to provide context. Still, the post just received a little toning down.

Interesting if Rove made a deal, the one with plausible deniability (can't remember shit) is Libby. Rove's deal, IF to save his ass THEN who got sold out? Still a lot of unanswered questions, Fitzgerald very cautious, making only charges he can stick.

Rove in the rear-view: "I've got the goods, and I am so outa here."

Making a clean getaway it is.

Rove is incapable of smiling without going smug. One lift of the chin, and it's a smug smile rather than any sign of 'hey, I'm content, business as usual.'

I hesitate to read anything into the Rovian smile because it's as likely to be a defensive as an expressive gesture. But if he gets pardoned, it'll be tempting to read it as smugness, knowing he'd get off in the end.

While I'm off somewhere else, the really fascinating smile has been that of Judith Miller. I'm surprised you didn't focus on that. 'Little girl running along beside Daddy Bennett' went on for about a week without any mention.

It's a great picture, but how did the photographer get that shot? If Rove is in the driver's seat, shouldn't his reflection in the mirror be at more of an angle? It's like he's looking at the mirror straight-on (is that a word?).

When you look at your reflection in the mirror you don't see yourself as others do. Everything is opposite as we all know. Take that where it will take you.

So...from what I see it must mean Rove really is a thin, good looking, honest man with a full head of hair but a sad expression on his face...Not Really!

Thing 1: It also looks to me as if the picture is doctored. From the laws of optics, "the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection" so if you pick a point (say, one of his pupils) and imagine a line of sight that goes from that actual pupil to the mirror and then is reflected to the camera lens, it seems that Cheney would have to be scrunched down in the seat, his eyes at almost the same height as the rear view mirror.

Thing 2: Ignoring the techical aspects of the image, it reminds me of a quote from W. Edwards Deming, the U.S. business manager who helped the Japanese set up their economic system after World War II. He said something to the effect that "most managers tend to manage as if they were driving a car by looking in the rear view mirror." In other words, thinking about what they have already run over and destroyed rather than looking forward with any kind of destination in mind.

Re previous post, I obviously have Cheney on the brain (can that be cured?) and meant "Rove" where I typed "Cheney".

The image, together with caption: Rove’s stature reduced by leak case. Or, the car is the leak case, to which Rove, his role and his reputation are peripherally attached. Or, the car is the leak case (an impersonal machine), and Rove is chortling at that so little of his role in it was discovered - just a fraction (part of the head) – not the body of his involvement. Or all of the above.

I saw that picture the other day, too, and it struck me. Don't know if it's photoshopped or not. Don't know if the photographer is putting his/her own spin on it. But the way I interpreted it was that Karl was saying:

"Ha ha ha! I got away with it ALL, suckers! My past is successfully behind me now and I LAUGH at it all".

Of course, I personally believe that Karl Rove is as close to evil incarnate as anyone can get, so my personal opinion is colored to some degree.

what we see here is simply the Chesire Cat....

Printing this photo shows that the Washington Post is no longer afraid of Rove.

I mean - the New York Times.

PS -- my husband the graphic designer thinks it's faked.

PPS - my second thought was that he looks like E.T.

This photo so intrigued me that I showed it to my 15 year old son who immediately said that it was photoshopped. So then we went out to the car together. It is possible to get this photo without photoshop. The key to the clarity of the photo is that K. had his window down, I think.

Reminds me of Sulzberger's line re: Judy Miller: "She had her hands on the wheel."

Rove is basking in the folly of the (from his point of view) idiot press. He's not smiling for the camera; it wouldn't occur to him that anyone would ever print a picture taken at a distance through a rear-view mirror. (Have you ever seen such a picture before?)

He's smiling because he knows he's going to get away with it, and because he knows that the idiot press doesn't know it.

desertwind, I think your husband might be on to something. It just doesn't look real, the angles don't work for my eye. Can one capture that much face of a driver in a side mirror? It is credited as an "image" not as a photo. I just checked NYT online and photos are not credited with the word "image" included, just name and association (Reuters, AP ...)

If it is a vigin photo the photographer deserves mucho credit ... but if it's not - is it kosher for the Times to run an image that looks like a photo with a news story?

btw ... he's hasn't gotten away, yet. This is not over.

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