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Jul 01, 2006

Heartbreak Hotel


If anyone thought to ask, the Bush's were "just" showing Prime Minister Koizumi a little bit of American history -- since they had finished their fun at Graceland and were in the neighborhood anyway.

Koizumi's presence, and the sugary Elvis tour, provided the perfect cover to place George and Laura on that fateful balcony where Martin Luther King was gunned down.  Add in Benjamin Hooks' gesture, and the scene suddenly evokes one of the most famous moments in civil rights history.


Besides the Bush's constant quest to ingratiate themselves with the black vote (and MLK), this photo op is part of the recent campaign to to build Bush up again -- in this case, to equate a "sensitive" Bush with the emotional soul of the country, and to pull for an equivalency in stature between the underwhelming Bush, and one of the most iconic events of our time.

Just don't tell me this shot at the Lorraine Motel wasn't planned with all the pre-4th of July giddiness of a once again cocky White House.

(revised 7/1/06. 8:45 am PST)

(image 1: Charles Dharapak/AP.  Memphis. June 30, 2006.  Via YahooNews.  image 2: SFGate via TIME via AP.  Memphis. 1968.)


I was living in Africa when MLK was killed, three days behind all US news, and I missed the photography. A reference to the Lorraine Motel in Memphis didn't clarify though I guessed that it had to do with the assassination of MLK. After a quick google, I understand the sadness and emotional power of the historic picture. It was taken just moments after MLK was shot--he is lying on the ground, Ralph Abernathy is attending to him. The others are pointing in the direction of the shot.

Of course, the modern picture with Bush was planned. King was staying in room 306, and the bullet hit him approximately where the POTUS is standing: The number of the room is crisply visible. I am 100% confident that African Americans won't be as ignorant as me of the resonance of this photo-op, and kudos to The Bag for picking it up.

Bush's trip is an opportunity to showcase his oneness with the American heartland: This would be an attempt to prop up those poll numbers (not that Bush pays any attention to those!) by re-convincing people that Bush cares about "people like you". However, I suspect that the target audience isn't African-American citizens, but the "suburban moms" who want to believe in the myth of compassionate conservatism.

Many people believe the government--the FBI, specifically--was behind the murder of King. An elusive overtone in this photo-op is the Republican suspicion of "the Feds," (AKA, Democrats.) So we see a Republican POTUS (who heads the most secretive, most intrusive government in American history) stands as a gawking tourist (check out Bush's face) where MLK was murdered (possibly by a Democratic government). Does this positioning translate into a "fear Democrats, trust Republicans, trust Bush" meme?

If it were my job to sell Compassionate Conservatism™ from that motel balcony I'd pose the Decider looking to his feet, recalling the victim not the assassin. In this image the President could be puzzling the difficulty of the shot, oblivious to its consequences.

The target voter bloc here is not those that identify with the victim. Think Southern Strategy™.

My read: the Decider stands vigilantly unaware against the day when one is judged by the content of his character.

let me see...hmmm after all these years he`s decided to care about the death of martin? i bet he didn`t give two shits about that day or any other day...drugs , booze, and staying out of nam was his main concerns in those days not some black guy....compassionate? never

disgusting...there's no low to which they won't stoop. |-(

Yes, there is no low to which the Bush campaign machine won't stoop. When you think they've hit rock bottom the pit just opens again to reveal a mass of writhing snakes. But the whole thing is not so complicated. You see, the Japanese prime minister is Bush's and the U.S.'s AMT which keeps the country going. That means he's also our AMT, each and every one of us, so love him because Bush looks out for our interests, so love him too.

You can see the difference in expression between the PM and the Preznit. The PM is serious, intent, the Preznit, well just simply "Duuuh! How did they pull that one off?"

I agree with PT--Bush/Rove's intention here is to mollify white (female) suburban voters who are put off by the overt racism of the Republican party. If the Republicans can "peel off" a few gullible black voters in the process, all the better from their point of view. But after New Orleans, and the cuts in Medicare, food stamps and other social services to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy, it's pretty unlikely that the party will get any African-American votes in the fall. Racist white Republicans aren't troubled by these photo-ops. They know it's all a sham put on to give the party the appearance of being centrist.

There are so many things wrong with this picture, it's hard to know where to begin. That Bush *and* Koizumi should be on that balcony for a photo-op is a mind-boggling travesty, as both men embrace violence, war, racism, and inequality.

I see this less as a wooing of ordinary blacks or white suburban women voters and more as a nod to conservative blacks, a group, like Log Cabin Republicans, that can seemingly accommodate Bush's moral and intellectual contradictions.

Surely Hooks was informing his guests about the backstory of that momentuous day at the Lorraine Hotel, not that his audience was comprehending something that had occurred in their lifetime.

"King, Abernathy, Andrew Young, and other black leaders had come to Memphis to support 1,300 striking sanitation workers. Their grievances included unfair working conditions . . . and poor pay. . . . Following a bloody confrontation between marching strikers and police, a court injunction had been issued banning further protests. King hoped their planned march would overturn the court injunction, but such plans were cut short on April 4, 1968, when an assassin shot and killed King on the balcony of King's room. . . ."

"The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government."
— Martin Luther King Jr.

What about Laura? She's looking in the same direction as everyone else, but physically separated from them. I searched Yahoo news photos for "Lorraine Motel", and there are a couple of sequences where there are the three guys, and then she shows up to the side for one photo. ( She doesn't seem to really be a part of the group. And that look on her face... is there any emotion or interest there, or is it numbed by some kind of medication?

I was looking at pictures of the Graceland tour, and I noticed the same thing about Laura there. Bush is all over Koizumi - he can't keep his hands off him! Also with Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley. But Laura doesn't even appear in most of the pictures, and when she does, there's no contact between her and her husband - no physical contact and not even any eye contact.

Maybe the rumors are true that Laura is royally PO'ed at POTUS for (a) his drinking and/or (b) his 'closeness' to Condi.


I have lately been very interested with Martin Luther King Jr. I have been listening to many of his speechs and it amazes me how someone could kill someone just because of his beliefs. He fought for equality and the belief of a "non-colorized" society. People who have heard his "I've been to the mountain top speech" know how erie it is, because he ultimitly announced his own assasination. Even though he is dead I believe that he did not stop there.

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