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May 16, 2006

Same As It Ever Was


That giant sucking sound you hear is the air rushing out of the conservative revolution.  Trying to identify Tuesday's key image, The BAG seemed to encounter right wing demoralization at every turn.

So, what was the visual of the day?

There was the newly released video of American Flight 77 slamming into the Pentagon.  Perhaps the obsessive and perverse FOX News replay of this necro-porn was supposed to remind conservatives of those good old Bush/Rove-inspired revenge fantasies.  By itself, however, the video seemed less than interesting -- not to mention, hard to see.


Of course, there was also Tony Snow's first formal press briefing.  But he cried.  Bush's mouthpiece cried.

As a fallback, The BAG decided to revisit The Economist.  But here, too, was more conservative devastation.  The subject of this latest cover was Bush and Blair.  Given Bush's popularity and Blair's weakening political status, you have two men who destroyed their reputations out of post-9/11 warmongering.

For historical contrast, I thought I would look back to previous Bush - Blair covers for better days.  What I found, however, was not what I expected.  Even in this more conservative publication, there were no better days.

(cllck to enlarge)
July 7, 2004

October 4, 2003

With the bursting of the Bush bubble, what you see in hindsight (which the left saw, and spoke out about all along) was how the weapon was mass deception tactically delivered via intimidation and spin.

(photos/photo illustrations: The Economist Magazine.  Snow photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP. Washington.  May 16, 2006.  Via YahooNews.)


I love the term "Axis of Feeble" (Although "Evil" might be appropriate here, too.)

On the previous covers, the headlines were pretty rough, but Bush and Blair at least had each other. On this new one, they're completely isolated even from each other. Bush is walking away from Blair, looking down. Blair is turned away from Bush, looking over his shoulder (worrying about Gordon Brown?).

The Economist subscriber edition had a white box for the mailing address in the lower left corner of the cover. They also ran a promotional cover (wrap) on this issue, so the white address box on the picture cover was not used for the mailing – the end result was Bush looked like he had his right leg removed below the knee. Very symbolic considering it's his base, the right, where he's losing support (in the polls) ... and so many soldiers he sent to war have lost limbs.

To show a leader looking down is powerful stuff.

Tony Snow used the word "tarbaby" twice during his first televised press conference yeterday. It was not in reference to a black person, but wtf? Condi, say something – PLEASE! It's a FOX White House for sure. Why do Democrats even appear on FOX? Ignorance is ruling our country, and our world.

The stark white cover says something important. There is nothing behind them, nothing in front of them, not even an audience. If there is an audience, Bush and Blair aren't looking them in the eye. It's very difficult to find firm ground or horizon line here. Only small shadows to tell us they exist at all, or have any reality outside of themselves. They cannot be placed in time or space except perhaps by the cut of their suits.

They are pretending they don't even know each other.

mugatea:"... the end result was Bush looked like he had his right leg removed below the knee."

I noticed the same thing--the cover with Bush cut-off at the knee, and I like how you interpreted the image. I also understood it as the place where the barcode would have gone--signifying Bush as a cheap commercial product that was sold to us.

The narrative of the three economist covers is informative. We the viewers are the audience, and the story is one of how the mighty have fallen. In the earliest shot, we see the confident cabal, heh-heh, pulling a fast one. The audience senses they have been hoodwinked, but can't put their finger on how. In the second shot, the audience has put them under a magnifying glass to watch them more carefully. In the most recent cover, the audience views them without props and without packaging. As itwasntme observes, the white background is important. It's harsh. Blair and Bush are fully exposed. The light shines in, and the two perpetrators slink off uncomfortably. They seem reduced in size, cut-out figures.

The final--not yet published--cover in this sequence would show Bush and Blair behind bars: This narrative would close with a chapter on "justice is served".

The picture of Tony Snow has a sad undertone . . . here's an aging man, a cancer survivor--but his weird Bill Frist-style helmet hair shows he's still trying to be a Republican alpha male, despite his tears. McClellan's relative youth and boundless naivete offered him a kind of self-protection, but Snow just looks haggard and worn. He's only 50? He looks older. Unfortunately, his cancer hasn't seemed to given him any more insight or compassion into the lives of Americans less fortunate than himself--people who have cancer like him, but don't have the health insurance to get the treatment they need. Snow cries about his own suffering, not the suffering of others.

As for Snow's tar baby reference--yes, it's racist; Snow is using it as a code word to signal to the Republican base that he's one of them. But Snow will quickly discover that he's the one who's getting thrown into the Briar Patch--possibly by Brers Rove and Bolton.

The jarring white background also speaks of absence, the missing message-bearing backdrops propping up the Decider, untangling and decoding the message missing from his speech. The message for TV. Mission Accomplished. Plan For Victory.

Silent white.

Glad I read the full text of the post and comments: my scan through this earlier had me thinking that snow was hugh grant in some sort of 'love actually' promo!
This is not the first time that we have had comments here on strange foot movement via the bag. havnt seen the subscription copy, but image here looks like a dislocated bush left leg is kicking something into touch/the long grass. A disgruntled blair looks on. then I remembered woodwards comments printed in the WP: "..But Bush was so concerned that the government of his closest ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, might fall because of his support for Bush that he delayed the war's start until March 19." cheer up tony!

Love those blue skid marks, bringing Tony to a screaming halt with hands in pockets, while Bush slowly slithers on, head down looking for something or anything, good luck buddy.

I get the sense that somewhere in the upper left corner is a disinfecting sun so bright that these two have momentarily lost their vision -- and each other. Stark white background: well, there's certainly nothing to hide behind here.

Note Bush continues to step toward the fireball whereas Blair hesitates, grimaces, looks back, perhaps proving the more sympathetic of the two (by The Economist's standards).

I'm not sure it's something you intended, but when the magazine covers are lined up like this, it seems like we're seeing:

Blair and Bush slowly turning away from each other.
The images taken from further out.
The background fading to white.

Which all combine to make the most recent cover the cover where they look the most isolated and weak.

I thought that the weeping performance of Tony Snow was the acme of pusillanimity.

It seemed that the "tears" helped to "humanize" Tony least that is what EVERY news outlet that reported the tears had to say. They said that his tears helped to do the one thing that Scott McLellan was never able to do, to "humanize" himself.

As I said on another blog...I want to know if the person who asked Snow: "What about that yellow bracelet?" was the same person who yelled to Bush: "We can't hear you?" as Bush stood atop the pile of 9/11 rubble..That question prompted Bush's "bullhorn moment".

So now the "tough" Republicans have their chief mouthpiece reduced to tears on his first day on the job.

How, ahem, feminine and liberal and weak and touchy-feely.


Martin, after reading your comment, I went back up and looked at the top picture again and figured out what it reminded me of - two school boys who have been caught "being naughty" waiting to go in to talk to the principal.

Bush is pissed off and kicking at the dirt, probably thinking "I'll get 'em!" (whoever "'em" are) and Blair looks a little disgusted with himself for being so stupid as to be caught.

(I guess I'm no longer startled by lucidity. Bush's usual juvenile behavior is back in full force here.)

Great connection, Bag. And great progression. The 2003 cover, months after 'mission accomplished', shows W covering his mouth so lip-readers won't see him lie to Blair. Blair's expression, a look askance at W, wonders what W has gotten him into.

On the 2004 cover, with it's oxymoronic headline, shows the pair under a magnifier cum bubble. They are in it together now and there is no way out. Blair now letting W take the lead.

By 2006, Blair is separating himself from W, no doubt hoping for political salvation. W, with his head down, might be just now realizing what it's like to go it alone. Beginning to wonder just who he can trust. This is when he's most dangerous. A narcissistic sadist with an inferiority complex AND a temper!

None of the covers have an identifiable background. It's as if those two 'leaders' are in it together, with no support. But I haven't seen enough "Economist" covers to know if that is their habit. But I agree with the others here about the new cover, that it's an absence, not just of color but of substance.

As for Snow, I don't know anything about him prior to his appointment, but he was apparently an empty-head anchor, so maybe we should cut him some slack for a few days. Especially since he worked for Br'er Fox.

PTate > you'd think the designer would keep in mind that mailing label spot ... I respect the quality of design TE produces – so I have to assume it was intentional, ya buddy. The question is: do the editors discus about this issue while approving art?

"The closing of the Bush-Blair era"
– the seeds these two boneheads have sown are nowhere near "closing".

Thier legacy has not begun.

Bush look neanderthal - the gangly arms.

Mugetea - as an old art director, yes, they do know where the white spot/mailing area will go. It could have been deliberate.

I guess this is a good site on which to point out a Freudian slip noticed by Professor DeLong, who headlines: "Presidential Press Secretary Tony Snow says he still works for Fox News." I hope it's a Freudian slip.

MR. SNOW: Well, as I pointed out -- I mentioned this yesterday, and for -- let me see if I can find my quote, because I pulled it out. Chuck Hagel, as you may recall, made a fair amount of news over the weekend when he first said that -- let's see -- "Well, I want to listen to the details and I want to listen to the President," said Senator Hagel -- he said this on "This Week" on a competing network. But I would say this: I think we have to be very careful here. That's not the role of our military, that's not the role of our National Guard." That's what Senator Hagel said on Sunday.

Just a note: if it had been a woman breaking into tears re: her cancer, the press would've been all over her for being too emotional and weak for the job. If she wasn't of a certain age, the question would've been "is she on the rag?"

I heartily approve of the Bag and the commenters here. This place is an oasis!

"...With the bursting of the Bush bubble, what you see in hindsight (which the left saw, and spoke out about all along)..."
The left is culpable for this war in Iraq too, ya know.
Most Congressional Dems voted for it, and 90% of Americans supported it at one point. The Left did not "speak out"; they went along quietly.

jackie martling: No, the Left is *not* culpable for the Iraq War. And yes, the Left did speak out, worldwide, in fact:

Unfortunately, "speaking out" didn't change the balance of powerlessness in Congress. If you don't like the way things turned out, don't ever let one party control the White House and both houses of Congress again.

jackie martling,

Can't find the link but a polling organization (Harris?) has polled Americans on their self-selected political philosophy and found little change over the last 50 years. Some 15%-20% self-identify as Liberal, roughly twice as many Conservative. Same today as in 1968.

By conflating Congressional Dems with Left you repeat a daily propaganda message of Limbaugh et al, a useful illusion for them. Rush would have you believe every non-Liberal is Conservative.

In reality Congressional Dems are no more Leftists than our sitting President is Conservative. In reality most Congressional Dems can cast votes for a quagmire in Iraq that was opposed by the Left.

I admit - I did conflate 'congressional dems' and 'the Left'.
But it does illustrate the need for rational members of 'the Left' to define themselves - instead of letting Rush doing it for them.
Same today as '68, eh?
Great - who's gonna be the next Nixon?

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