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May 27, 2007

Bush In The Hospital ... And He's Getting Worse

(click for full size)

Is it just me, or are George Bush's hospital portraits with wounded soldiers growing progressively more weird and mechanical?

The shot above (part of a group of three) was taken in a visit to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda on Thursday.  If these were the most positive pics the White House got (over two days, no less -- according to the White House captions), I'd be afraid to see the rejects.

In this shot, Bush isn't making eye contact with the camera, the soldier or the Dad.  Also, Cpl. Ryan T. Dion's father, Thomas Dion, is pressed into the corner, seemingly intimidated or afraid.

If this shot carries the whiff of fear, the second shot of the three in the White House photo gallery, involving Cpl. Manuel Provencio and his family, is more characterized by suspicion.  Just look at that sad expression on Cpl. Provencio's face, and Bush's hesitancy to really embrace his mother.

Besides your thoughts about the current pics, take a look at these hospital visits from past White House photo galleries and tell me if you think they've grown progressively stilted.

in reverse chronological order, here are galleries of visits to the National Naval Medical Center, including August 2006 (link); three shots from December 2005 (link); and this "super perky" set from July 2005 (link).  There are also three earlier visits to Walter Reed, in December (link), April (link) and January 2003 (link).  (I can't vouch for it 100%, but I think these links include the total number of hospital visits with wounded Iraqi vets visually catalogued on the White House site.)

Gee, can't imagine why Walter Reed fell off the list.  Also, wonder why Laura barely ever goes.

(image: Joyce Boghosian/White House. May 24, 2007, in Bethesda, Md.


It is painful to look at the photo. The thoughts of the family members radiate to the viewer and to the patient. Concern, love, relief he is alive and away from the hell, questions, and avoidance of eye contact for most part with the deciderer and intruder.
The first point, the most prominent, is the injured foot of the soldier.
From that point on we can connect the points in the circle the family, whose feelings and concerns you read in their faces. How will he recover? To what extend are the injuries permanent, Will he be happy again... and their commitment to son and brother. I find the younger brother's gaze most revealing. There is confidence in the older's look to keep the younger brother from tears and maybe even from blaming the deciderer for the horrors and pains. Yes, for the brief time he will be there...

I think the "George and I suffer more than anyone" comment of Laura's really pissed off these people. It's a bit hard to even think of George and Laura as human anymore.

Awful pics. Bush can rarely hide that he is uncomfortable, and here, he is clearly unnerved. He doesn't want to look at or touch the wounded. What a contrast to the rah rah crowd of hand picked soldiers he usually revels in. Not that these aren't chosen too, but Bush knows they are not fresh recruits eager to prove their machismo on the battlefield. They are veterans (even young ones) who have seen and experienced the truth of that battlefield.

These are parents not bragging of their boys fighting for democracy, but parents who have paid the price, parents who are staring at the mutilated bodies of their children, unsure what exactly it is they fought for.

What gets me though, what really gets me is that even in these somber moments, Bush can't keep his hands off the women.

In every photo op I've seen of Bush, he's grabbing and hugging the women. I'm not sure if he's trying to be daddy or father or husband, but he goes straight for them every time. And here, it's really a habit he can't break.

Is this a manly moment in which he wants to bond with the soldier, with the soldier's dad (in the corner), or with the soldier's brother? No. He's hanging out with the female members of the family instead. Even if, as in one photo, she's just a cousin. She'll do.

The posture & positions of the family indicate they are having an obligatory visit from an unwelcome visitor. The family has circled as if to corner the bacterium that has entered it & is threatening its vulnerable member. It's as if Death in a black rober carrying a sickle walked in to shake hands with their son.

Gee, they don't really like having him there. Wonder why?

First thing I noticed about the photo here was that the W couldn't possibly be looking any farther away from the injured foot. Yet the cameraman manages to make that very foot the first thing the viewer sees. Seems Darth isn't the only one trying to undermine the W. And I noticed Laura's absence, too. Maybe the hotel forgot her wake-up call.....

Ya' know, it looks like the W doesn't do a solo act very well.

Is any one else wondering whether the W is thinking how 'lucky' he was not to have been dragged through the mud and blood of Vietnam? Could he have been appointed ODL without one leg?

As for his touchy-feely with women, it's definitely a dominance thingy. If you had a mother like he had, wouldn't you be trying to put all women (aka mommie) in their place?

What struck me about the second photo (where Bush is clutching the woman) is how it diminishes the injured soldier by placing him in the background, almost as if he were being shoved to the vanishing point. I don't think it's particularly wise of the White House to go that route.

Excellent points above, but in fairness to the hapless photographer: these hospital rooms are small and he has to use a short lens, so inevitably the foreground (like the foot) gets pulled forward and the background (like Dad) gets pushed back.

Whether its grasp/grab or clutch/cling
I'm thinkin lost man/child seeking mother/affection.
Imagine your 'War President' as a recipient of a tough love touch from the knee of a mother who refuses his solace for the loss of her son.
Some fantasy eh !

Yeah, but we (women) aren't his goddamned mother. Let him find solace from his own kind. Ohhh - that's right, they know nothing of solace or comfort.

I simply cannot stand this pompous prick, gliding closer to hating every time I see his face or hear his voice.

Is it just me, or are George Bush's hospital portraits with wounded soldiers growing progressively more weird and mechanical?

It’s not just you. That pic of Cpl. Manuel Provencio and family could be a scene from a David Lynch movie, where the president goes to visit unhappy wounded vets in the hospital, awards them the Purple Heart, poses awkwardly for a few photos in their hospital rooms, then gives a speech where he says something inappropriate like, “To be the Commander-in-Chief of such men and women is really an awesome honor.” Where a creepy veneer of normal hides the surreal and nightmarish.

Oh wait. That’s real life.

He should sign that cast like an artist signs a canvas.

I found this record this weekend, the words seemed appropriate today. The music really makes it campy
– here are the lyrics ...

GEORGIE GIRL (hit the top 10 in '66)

by The Seekers

Hey there! Georgie girl
Swinging down the street so fancy free,
nobody you meet could ever see
the loneliness there inside you.

Hey there! Georgie girl
why do all the boys just pass you by?
Could it be you just don't try, or is it the clothes you wear?
You're always window shopping but never stopping to buy.
So shed those dowdy feathers and fly – a little bit.

Hey there! Georgie girl
there's another Georgie deep inside
Bring out all the love you hide and
oh, what a change there'd be,
The world would see a new Georgie girl.

Hey there! Georgie girl
Dreaming of the someone you could be
Life is a reality, you can't always run away.
Don't be so scared of changing and rearranging yourself.
It's time for jumping down from the shelf – a little bit.

The Seekers on Ed Sullivan.

No one is commenting on the expression of the wounded soldier himself. To me, he looks like the most vital person in the room. One can't tell why this is so from the picture, but he is the most comfortable one, the calmest.

Has George W. ever visited the dead and wounded that are snuck back into the US in the middle? Where is his honoring of the troops who did "the ultimate sacrafice"? Oh, is more fun at a parade on the White House lawn or at a vetted event where everyone nods in unison with "the decider".

The family are all physically cringing away from W, as if they can't stand to be near him. And W isn't even looking at the soldier's face! I think he's looking at the i.v. bag in order to avoid looking the corporal in the eye. What an incredibly painful scene--they must feel that he's responsible for their boy's injury, yet they have to pose for the camera in order to make the man responsible look good.
The corporal seems to be acting the most normal, I think, because military discipline has been drilled into him, and he's already put up with so much...what's a handshake compared to that?


I see concern and sense reserve on the faces of *everyone* at this bedside photo. Then I went googling, from a story in his hometown paper this comment from a long time neighbor, "D'Attilio said that when she spoke to Ryan on Thursday he was in a difficult state since he has to decide soon whether to have his right foot amputated.".
This information might help explain the difficulties everyone seems to be experiencing, I would like to know if the Commander in Chief was apprised of Ryan's delimena . If so that might explain why he looks like a deer frozen in the spotlight. Ryan may be relaxed or his thoughts may be somewhere else.

His thoughts are somewhere else? Maybe, but that is speculation that goes beyond what seems to be an alert expression. Not much willingness here to simply observe, and suspend conclusion on the basis of inadequate knowledge.

Johanna I am very sure that Bush was appraised of the situation before he went to meet with the soldiers family. He has people who do that for him.

Also much as I dislike the man he has been to many military funerals but does not like it publicized which I think is the appropriate thing. Sometimes you have to give the devil his due.

Not much willingness here to simply observe, and suspend conclusion on the basis of inadequate knowledge.

Right. That's what we do here. That's how you try to unspin the spin.

I don't see anything wrong here with this picture.
It's just a leg wound.

Why this soldier will be up and about ready to go back to Iraq in no time.

You all gotta get with the program.

Saying his thoughts are elsewhere than on the pres. isn't undoing the spin -- it's just making up stuff. Were you unspinning the spin when you joked "the right to bare arms" about the V. Tech Killer?

Saying his thoughts are elsewhere than on the pres. isn't undoing the spin -- it's just making up stuff.

Johanna, any photograph posted on the White House website is fair game for public consumption, free association, reinterpretation, counterspin, and especially for creatively making shit up. Any alternative perspective that serves to refocus the original manipulative intent is acceptable.

I believe the intent of showing wounded soldiers in the hospital is to make us feel sympathy for the courageous, strong, pure and good men who risked their lives (see? they're in the hospital) to protect us from another attack on U.S. soil (a.k.a. another 9/11 -- Never Forget). What are we supposed to feel about such images? They are irresistibly loaded with emotional associations (hence, the innumerable movies, TV shows, literary and romance novels that feature the storyline of a soldier in a hospital bed who is nursed back to health by a selfless and good caretaker he falls in love with), and that's why such images are used over and over again by the Administration (because they are emotionally loaded). That's emotional manipulation -- of us and of the vets themselves. I noticed, however, there seem to be no photos of Bush visiting the many brain-injury patients. Why is that, do you suppose? Why are all the vets pictured on the White House website good-looking, photogenic, sympathetic, squeaky-clean (meaning no blood, no visible angry-looking scars), and looking like they are well on the road to recovery and seamless reintegration into society? Please work harder at thinking about your own responses. If you have an emotional reaction to seeing someone in a hospital (as most of us do), then say so. That's acceptable too, of course.

Were you unspinning the spin when you joked "the right to bare arms" about the V. Tech Killer?

Johanna, totally off-topic, but I wasn't making a joke. I was commenting on the photo of Cho, whose arms, I noticed, were bare. Unlike most people, that's really all I knew about what was in his head. Meaning, I knew nothing.

Disintegration of a Salesman:

These most recent pics of Bush's latest visit-the-wounded soldiers photo-op are truly disturbing, to say the least, which is not to suggest that the stagecraft in the "super perky" series is not problematic, too, but for different reasons.

Clearly, the "super perky" pics reveal an alarming degree of cognitive dissonnance on the part of the smiling, upbeat, optimistic Bush in the presence of the soldiers whose bodies and minds and lives have been forever devastated by his failed war in Iraq.

The happy-salesman's smile in these grave circumstances demonstrates inappropriate affect and suggests that Bush is unable to connect with the real consequences of his unnecessary war of choice based on lies. It's the overcompensating and over-produced smile of denial.

But that was then. In these latest pics Bush seems to be so disconnected to the soldiers and their family members that it looks like he was added to frames via Photo Shop -- in the way that Woody Allen did in the film Zelig.

Perhaps Bush's inability to establish eye contact with the recipients of his visit reflects the fact that there is nothing left to "sell" in his march of folly, and as the dead and wounded casualties continue to mount these photos are bad for the war business. Sales are down.

The latest NYT/CBS News Poll demonstrates that 76% of the American people are no willing to buy Bush's sales pitches, and the majority of those who did now have buyer's remorse.


What's impressive to me is how each of these families is so down-to-earth and representative of the melting pot of America... They are REAL people--the salt of the earth and their injuries are very real, too. Plus, the loyal support from the families is tangible.

I also notice in several of the pictures through the years that mothers of the soldiers seem to be seething with a righteous fury, barely under wraps. Bush would not last long at the hands of these mothers. And you can tell the mothers would have no qualms about whipping Bush's ass from here to Kingdom come! I guess that's love and a normal maternal instinct... NOw if we can just have everyone amass that kind of righteous courage!

IMPEACH this blatantly dishonest, corrupt, white-collar war criminal ASAP.

Johanna you are so lucky getting all this attention

With the "War President" in his first three hospital rounds in 2003 the photographs were accompanied with three articles of over a thousand words. His jocular upbeat bravado spews forth constantly along with borderline juvenile humour. His words and behavior had a sort of concruity. Since then hes fallen rather silent and the pics made available, present a more stiff and sober fellow.

Strange in the first visit only one soldier is presented, but there is a great story here. Sergeant Michael McNaughton was invited to workout and run with the Prez a year later, it was a big deal we looked at it on the Bag. I was not surprised to learn from this Sergeant, " the president was more interested with his new leg than even his own children. McNaughton says the president couldn't stop looking at it or asking questions about it" .

I have checked many stories about these soldiers, their physical and psychological state and conditions surrounding the visits. In Cpl. O.J. Santamaria staged ( spun!!!) citizenship event he "managed to stand -- over protests -- for the ceremony. Halfway through, he broke down sobbing from the pain and the occasion". GWB looks genuinely moved in this scene and its helpful to know this, when I make my SPECULATIONS.

NOTE: 'W' later in 2003 said "I remember coming here a couple of months ago to pin the Purple Heart on a fellow who lost both legs and one arm. Today, I saw him walking. (Applause.) What makes this story even more profound is he lost both legs and one arm not as a citizen of the United States, but as a soldier fighting for the United States. Today, I saw a citizen of the United States walking."

For such a hero is it an oversight that we have no photo-just a face would do- not even a name !!!
I could offer other examples of information management and photographic selection, it goes on all the time and Bush just happens to be the subject under scrutiny this week.

No, it's not just you. These ARE weird and mechanical. It can be argued that the eye contact issue could be the function of a split second of timing. But the body language and facial expressions in two of the three photos is NOT a function of the shutter. Let's, reasonably, assume that the WH thought these were the best pictures. Hmmmm. So how bad must the others have been? Having looked at all of your links, I think there's a trend, and there damn well ought to be. Laura's an interesting case. She's in very few of the pictures, which is curious as she's generally considered an asset and you'd expect her to be highlighted. And surely in the traditional woman's role that she's cast in, you'd expect there to be some indication of connection with at least one person, something warm or tender or compassionate or even concerned. There's very little variation in her expressions, and little sense that she's there even in the sense of she's observing what's going on. The issue of why is another question. I'm intrigued. One thing is clear, though, there isn't a Princess Di moment in the bunch, and I mean that as a compliment to Diana. Diana connected.

interesting how neither this image (nor none of the past images, either) of Operation: PHOTO OP : 'Memorial Day' : "President Visits Wounded Veterans in Hospitals" are there any military artifacts, whatsoever... uniforms, nor any other (institutional) visual clues; iow, everthing seems so civilian...

...their unknown / unseen trauma could be some automobile accident, or perhaps these are survivors of some natural disaster, etc. The effect thereof is that there is no sense of ‘duty, honor, country,’ thus; though in the earliest photos do note that there *IS* often some FLAG = Old Glory there, there in the trauma not in the war trauma centre not.

Usually, The President is the only one wearing a suit, and it always comes off as unsuitable. We can see that the President's suit never bears any military insignia, nor any rank apparent of 'Commander In Chief'. His costume is not merely disconcerting, it is dis-connecting, as if ~ he has no business being there, with these otherwise quite unsuited, i daresay heroic men and their ordinary looking extraordinary American families.

So, visually ~ these are not "veterans", at least, not figuratively, thus; they are "survivors", and that is something alltogether different, n'est-ce pas?

It's easy to hurl stones at Mr. Bush for being so pathetic at empathy; No matter how hard he tries not to, he always seems to come off "grudgingly", but then, we could easily apply that adjective to almost any endeavour in which this unabashedly lazy man is depicted.

OTOH, when or, how often do we see any "name" Democrat comforting wounded troops?

And, what about YOU, eh?

personally, i don't think many Americans actually give a real shit about their soldiers; they certainly don't give a shit about their allies ~ they don't even count the fallen thousands of IRAQI comrades as "Coalition Casualties". According to the polls, even the American Vet soldiers, themselves ~ hate the goddam Iraqis, much more that they hate all the goddam leaders who keep sending them there, tour after goddam tour, yes?

No, i don't think most Americans really care enough to be aware of IRAQI them or their own, whether they're whole, or ~ blown apart; at home, or Over There ~ wherever the hell that is, anyway: tell me again, what channel is it, and what time does it come on?

Democrats certainly don't care (post appeasement let's put all illusions that the Dems'll Rescue Thems, to rest).

And The President, really ~ Does he not simply reflect the collective American Apathy? Oh, IRAQ? christ, we've got rubble fatigue: rubble without glory, rubble without end. Let's just get out, you know: somehow "End The War" leave without, you know: not leaving our Oil to all those Arabs left Over There. Can we do that?

After all, we did everything we could, right? And it's the Iraqis fault, that things are so fucked up now, anyway. bien sure. And while you're at it, this Memorial Day: just fill 'er up with 20 gallons of ‘Regular’. And yeah ~ before you go tie a Yellow Ribbon 'round the hose of that petrol station pump.

I heard on Pacifica today an interview with a reporter who had done an article for "The Nation" about problems returning vets have with the VA. Seems 'personality disorder' is the favorite diagnosis, even if the vet has been blasted by a rocket and deafened.

There was a 5-month long investigation by a VA dept. head and she reported that every one of the diagnoses was correct. He learned that this 'investigator' had simply contacted the doctors involved and asked if the diagnosis was correct. What's that old phrase? Catch 22?

Oh, yes, the incentive to deny all the returning vets' claims? Over $4 billion! savings in medical bills the gov't would have to pay out. On top of that they are apparently lied to about future benefits in order to get them to take a "Chapter 5-13" discharge, then on their way out they discover that not only are they not getting any benefits but they also owe the gov't thousands of dollars.

Dang, can't the WH come up with any better pics than this?!?

Looks like they wisely handcuffed Dad.

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