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Jan 05, 2006

Bush's Happy New Ear


Lawrence Eagleburger, a Secretary of State under the first President Bush, told reporters that Mr. Bush had come in for some criticism that he had not talked to the people enough, but that it had been mild. "When you are in the presence of the president of the United States, I don't care if you've been a devout Democrat for the last hundred years, you're likely to pull your punches to some degree," Mr. Eagleburger said.

--Snippet from today's NYT article:  Bush and Former Cabinet Members Discuss Topic No. 1: Iraq.

Sure, the pictures from Bush's White House nostalgia summit with former Secretaries of Defense and State were dramatic.

Capt.Whre10701051630.Bush Iraq Whre107

There was Robert MacNamara, the father of the Vietnam War, pointing a finger at President Bush.


And the crowd around Nixon's Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird made it almost seem like Tricky Dick was back to kick around some more.


Also, there was Colin Powell leaning forward -- half out of synch with the old team, just like before -- alongside Condi at the conference table.

Still, the most telling image relating to the event was not photographed or published today.  Instead, it ran the day before in a NYT article (From Cabinet Rooms Past, a Gathering to Assess Iraq - link) previewing this extravaganza.

That file photo, of Bush groping Colin Powell on the General's doorstep, was actually taken in late May.  The context involved Bush showing up at  the former Secretary of State's house for dinner (the photographic press in tow) just a few days before Tony Blair's pre-G-8 Summit visit to Washington.  To refresh your memory, Blair (in a push to finally assert himself with Bush) had made a fairly big deal about how he was going to force the U.S. to dramatically step up its financial commitment to Africa.

In my mind, the recycling of this image in advance of today's reunion was a clever bit of editorializing on the part of The Times.  If not blatantly obvious by now, today's hoopla was the latest demonstration of a Bush make-over the Administration had been test marketing for about a month prior to the holidays, that has now gained full bloom.

Simply put, the White House has replaced Stubborn Bush with Humble Bush.  (I can only assume Karen Hughes got sick of hearing "W" being referred to as "Bubble Boy.")  In this new version, the President's new primary anatomical part (in a move way northward) is his ear.  The only problem with the strategy, however, is that it has been conceived and implemented by people who couldn't be more deaf to subtlety.  How else can you explain our recent inundation with examples of Bush's collaboration and culpability?

To almost everyone who was paying attention, however, today's special episode of  "And You Were There" had a disingenuous ring from the start.  Perhaps the biggest give-away was the Administration's characterization of the gathering as a "briefing."  In bringing together this august body of State and Defense leaders, the characterization telegraphed an attitude that was all "give" an no "take."

Which brings us back to the "guess who's coming to dinner" photo.

In that instance, it was the all-too-prone looking Powell who served as the prop.  Apparently, BushCo. was assuming that the embrace of a former aid with an expressed solidarity for Africa would somehow transmit the idea the solidarity was mutual.  In fixing on that shot, The Times could float the idea that today's meeting was about the appearance of the gathering -- the glad-handing and the mugging -- at the expense of the gathering itself.

(assist to Salam)

(image 1: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press.  May 31, 2005.  Washington.  image 2: Evan Vucci/A.P. January 5, 2005.  White House.  Via YahooNews.  image 3:  Kevin Lamarque/Reuters. January 5, 2005.  White House.  Via YahooNews. image 4:  Evan Vucci/A.P. January 5, 2005.  White House.  Via YahooNews.)


You're right, Baggums, the reason Powell is sitting on the Bush side of the table even though he is no longer part of the "team" is that Rove/Hughes get the powerful two-fer in the shot. Ironic, isn't it that we're supposed to be getting the impression that Bush is listening to new voices but instead we get the shot of him and his "old" team.

Word has it that our "leader" was in the room not much longer than it took to get photos of the event.

Doesn't look like Bush is listening to or saying anything substantive in the two photos. No surprise.

Things in Iraq and in the American polls must be truly desperate if the Administration is resorting to such an absurd attempt to show that Bush is inviting advice. Wonder how the conservative press played up this "meeting of the minds."

WaPo's Jim VandeHei and NYT's David E. Sanger both covered (or at least read about) the Bush White House photo-op on Thursday with former secretaries of state and defense.

VandeHei says the participants described it as "a cordial but pointed discussion about the future of Iraq" that lasted an hour.

Hmmmmm. This gives the reader the distinct impression that the Preznit finally is reaching out and actually is listening to opinions other than those rendered by TurdBlossom and his Fascist gang.

But NYT's Sanger gives us details right up front in the lead that VandeHei doesn't feel are relevant.

Like for instance that Colin Powel, Bush's own ex-secretary of State "said nothing--a silence that spoke volumes to many in the White House."

VandeHei also failed to inform us that the session began with Bush's "...exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing...about how well things are going in Iraq."

Then Bush allowed a mere 5 to 10 minutes for interchanges with the group. Bush put off limits any discussion about why we got into the war in the first place.

Same meeting, but widely divergent accounts. Why?

Ordinary citizens often attend an event and then complain they hardly recognize it when they read about it in the papers or see a report on TV.

Well, that's because what we get these days from professional journalists is just a lot of spin and bullshit.

It looks to me that Rumsfield, Cheney, Rice and Powell are not listening or paying attention. They have "I have to be here" looks on their faces. Reminds me of any business meeting I have been to where the people attending are thinking - "heard that, been there, done that - so tell me something new."

Here's a wider shot of the Bushie side of the table. (Caution: strongly worded commentary.) Colin's posture, accompanied by Madelaine's um demeanor, speaks VOLUMES.

I am impressed that all those invited accepted! Are they really convinced that their opinions matter? Or are they just vain and an invitation from a president, no matter how evil will be an honor?
Their presence no matter how they feel endorses the occupation!
I cannot read anything from the postures of the present around the table, that would give me other sense than the support for the emperor.
No bones!

Another take:
Sinking ship and the fools wanted to be on it...
The history for the posterity will not be so kind.

At the conference table, Powell sits empty-handed. He knows what a farce it is and hasn't even bothered to bring a notebook to take notes, the way the others have. Condi and the other Administration officials have the leather-bound portfolios so popular in this White House, but they're closed tight. They have nothing they want to contribute or share. The expressions of indifference and contempt on everyone's face (except the usually oblivious Bush) tell it all.

The top photo of Bush embracing Powell is another fraud that fools nobody. How many times has the administration stabbed Powell in the back? Now they're afraid he might talk--and indeed, he has already testified to the Special Prosecutor in the Plame investigation. He's the only one who didn't hire a lawyer. And now Bush wants to get all cuddly? Too little, too late.

I'm waiting for anybody from that meeting who can muster the courage to say what went on. Surely Bushco doesn't think that having his picture taken with them will make the viewer of that picture think these people endorse his actions, but I could be wrong. It just might show up in his 3rd term as a poster proving that everybody agrees he needed to cancel the elections because of a terrorist threat to disrupt them.

Photo 1, Powell: "Here we go again", is it the smile/stance or something else that reminds me of the house and field slaves tale from Harry Belafonte

# 2, Mach the knife looks in good form, first he gets them laughing (notice his pile of papers)and then hands out his famous 11 Lessons from Vietnam.

# 3, I check back occasionally to see if Michael Moore has popped up in this gaggle.

# 4 "W", "I'm telling ya we got the world in our hands", "the Middle East circled" or at least the wagons in position"
a) Donald wearing his serious face.
b) the Veep dozing off.
c) Condi pensive, tired or simply pissed off.
d) the faithful soldier, hands folded placidly engaged in time or space travel.
Phredd's link to Madelaine is the real gem ! ( or the complete encyclopedia)

Only Karl really knows why this spectacle happened.

For those interested or unfamiliar with Robert McNamara's 11 Lessons from Vietnam, scroll down to the bottom of the page of interview cited.

I think Leon Panetta said it all.....the only use that will be made of all this "input" is a photograph showing that W has the full confidence and support of generations of State Dept. execs.

Also, given the time allotted and the number of "participants," each person could "advise" for 45 seconds. Even then, rumor has it that Haig took up most of the time.

Is this event an indication that W is worried about his image or the perception of his handling of the Iraqi occupation? Not likely. He has shown us that this administration is going to do what it is going to do regardless of what anyone thinks. All this is just distraction and circus for the masses.

Also I noticed, in all the photos I saw, that the camera is shooting the W and his cohorts from behind all the others. Guess W wanted all the attention on him and all the others were just props. Which I'm sure they knew they were. But as to why they accepted? They are politicians! Just like the passed-out drunk who raises his glass at the whiff of booze, these guys just gotta be where they smell power. Also (thanks to Phredd's post), in most of the photos, neither Powell nor Albright had their glasses on or visible. An indication they didn't take this seriously???

In the guess-who's-coming-to-dinner photo, isn't W's hand on the tummy of Powell just a wee bit degrading? Like one would pat the tummy (or behind) of a child.

Pure horseshit, that event was. The purest.

I have no love for any of the folks who showed up, either. It's like Hunter S. Thompson said of the portrait of Dean Rusk that was unveiled at U.Ga on the infamous Law Day back in 1974 - "Why didn't they paint the blood on his hands?"

I used a different shot from the same pool that also shows the other side of the table here. I paired it with a recent image from the war in Iraq.

I've been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan lately, most notably his "Live 1975" CD (aka Bootleg Series, Volume 5 - The Rolling Thunder Review) which features killer versions of "Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."

Jimmy Carter also referred to that second song in his own speech at the Rusk event. My using it the other day, in combination with the two photos, was a no-brainer.

"But you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears,
Take the rag away from your face.
Now ain't the time for your tears."

This and the Abramoff black hat picture.
Strange days.

So this was a meeting (or rather, soliloquy) about foreign policy conducted by someone who has absolutely no experience with foreign relations to a group of people who do have experience. . . .

EXACTLY the kind of horseshit that high-ranking morons in the business world subject subordinates to all the time. Bush is the CEO of the United States. (Which helps account for his unpresidential good-old-boy groping of Powell.) The MSM's biggest crime is that it persistently characterizes Bush as the president in the old-fashioned sense of the word — as a statesman — rather than as the (limited) businessman he is.

I think the "Coming to Dinner" picture is very revealing. Bush has all his weight on his left foot and is leaning in to Powell. Bush's body completely encircles Powells. He looks kind of like a drunk leaning up against a lamp post. This strikes me as a much more intimate picture than anything advertising "Brokeback Mountain."

Powell, on the other hand, is leaning back away from Bush. His hand is in a fist. His clenched-teeth smile seems to say "If you drop your right hand 10 inches further south like you did last time, I'm going to smack you, even with all these people watching." Perhaps he was a little surprised when Bush shows up with the photo crew, thinking that it was in fact just going to be a personal dinner at which they might bury the hatchet. He's dressed casually, as one might be if expecting friends for dinner. Bush is dressed for work.

As to the other photos, I think BAG's right - it's just an attempt to add gravitas to his policy by gluing on the image (and thus the implicit approval) of all former secretaries of state and defense. I was curious about how the seating was arranged: is there some kind of official protocol about which seats are the most important and who gets them, or is it completely politically motivated (the comfort/stability projected by arranging Powell, Rice the Bush in a row for example.)

Actually time for the interaction with Bush for the 13 invited - 10 to 15 minutes. All the rest of the time was a briefing and photo-ops.

Poor Powell in that picture. Man Bush is rubbing him like the Pilsbury dough boy to try and get some mojo going. Umm, that aint gonna work - perhaps he is forgetting the first commandment and will take to carrying a rabbits

Ahh its from May, I wondered why he looked so happy. Maybe Powell will get a set next time he comes knocking for war.

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