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Sep 03, 2008

The Likes We Haven't Seen Since Terri Schiavo

Levi Mccain

Mccain Palin Airport

After a week of images of the Palin/McCain soap opera, the ante rose even higher today at the airport.  Attempting to turn a negative into a (family values) positive, check out McCain greeting husband- and father-to-be, Levi Johnson.

And then, notice the way the NYT photographer lined up the angle in the second shot above (from a diptych at The Caucus) making it look like McCain -- otherwise moving to hug Bristol Palin -- is reaching out to embrace her tummy!

As uncomfortable and inappropriate as it feels, the drama surrounding the Palin family -- especially on the visual plane -- has become very much a political issue. That's also Josh Marshall's reaction as the GOP proper, as well as the Christian Conservative wing of the Republican Party (which the Republican Convention has turned into a pander-fest to) moves to play Sarah Palin and her family -- with all the symbolism and loading of motherhood, and the nuclear family, and the right-to-life, and the sanctity of marriage, and (the appropriation of) feminism -- for all its worth.

Personally, I couldn't be more frustrated and sorry that the McCain campaign -- sinking that much further below the level of moral and intellectual poverty it has been operating on for months, and now nominating the unqualified and politically and culturally extreme Sarah Palin -- has set the stage for a Presidential campaign drama and culture war the likes we haven't seen since Terri Schiavo.  As the McCain campaign exploits the Palin pick through visual symbolism, however, the last thing we can do is close our eyes.

(Edited for readability 9:10 pm PST)

(image: Reuters.  caption:  Levi Johnston (L) is greeted by U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain (R) as Johnston's girlfriend Bristol Palin (C) looks on after McCain arrived to attend the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota September 3, 2008. Bristol Palin is the daughter of U.S. Republican vice-presidential candidate and Gov. of Alaska Sarah Palin. The campaign has announced that Bristol is five months pregnant and plans to marry Johnston. image 2: Stephen Crowley, NYT)


Welcome to this weeks edition of "Let's Make a Deal!" After warning everyone that "family is off limits" they are ready to put in the spotlight at the convention.

The open hands portray the moment before the handshake. The empty suit on the right is the symbol of manhood that the (very boyish looking) Levi has to fill.

There's another good picture with this NYT article:

Does anyone else think the kid looks like Haden Christianson from the last 2 star wars movies (aka young Darth Vader)?

So "leave them out of it" but arrange a photo op? Maybe they'll next publicize her ultrasound images.

Look who's being ignored in this picture. The oldest son, who's headed for Iraq, is relegated to the sidelines. Instead, slacker Levi is getting the hero's welcome. Twig (as usual) isn't being held by Sara or her husband. Couldn't one of them at least have held him for this photo op instead of making the second daughter hold him? I guess Bristol has "graduated" from having to take care of Twig. Now it's the next daughter's job to be his surrogate mother.

In the 2nd photo, McCain looks very tight-shouldered, reaching out to embrace a (stranger?) pregnant teen out of formal obligation. Sara looks so over-happy that this photo really makes me wonder about the true thoughts in her the daughter of a born-again conservative mother myself, I can only imagine that the true thoughts are much darker than the light-hearted smile and happy-looking eyes show. The affection of the brother towards the little sister on the left side of the photo seems more genuine.
As far as the top photo, Bristol looks easy-going, relieved, possibly?
The boy? Hard to fathom. I sure hope they are really in love, or it's going to be hard publicity-filled road for those two.

It hadn't occurred to me until I saw this photo that the McCain camp is dragging this young couple into the spotlight on purpose. Ish. Sacrificed on the altar of Mommy Dearest's ambition.

I wonder if the 'smears' they are trying to lay at Obama's feet are actually coming from them? It would be utterly Rovian, and repellent.

Well, they've certainly addressed my complaints from weeks ago, that the whole field of anything McCain was filled with the masculine.

But again I find these pictures so strange. That Sen. McCain-Miss Palin link is still the strong one. Look how their bodies are oriented to each other in both pictures. Why? That makes no sense to me.

Well, the whole thing is just tacky and tasteless. The daughter should certainly be there, but trying to turn the sad situation into a political plus, even to the extent that this kid is to be included on the GOP's big night, is the height of cynicism. Interesting pictures to come when the whole clan joins Sarah onstage after her big speech.

It's a good thing that teen pregnancy doesn't carry the kind of stigma it once did. But it's so odd seeing the a man who would be president embrace the situation so publicly, the smiles, the proud parents. The only person on that tarmac who appears to have any sense of how wrong this is the son who is on his way to war. He looks so protective of his little sister, with a look of concern on his face while everyone smiles and laughs to celebrate the happy teen couple, like his parents should have been with the older sister.

And there's Cindy,always an afterthought. Trailing behind John, not reaching out to anyone, a little standoffish. Always in garish, loud colors, the only way she can get anyone to notice her? All that money, yet she always manages to look cheap.

Finally, I'm struck by how Sarah and her eldest daughter dress alike and wear their hair alike. Same jacket, pencil skirt, pumps, even the hemline ending exactly under the knee. And now she's going to have a baby, just like Mom.

Interesting visual when McCain joined the happy family on stage after Palin's speech. He positioned himself BETWEEN Palin and her family.

Interesting visual when McCain joined the happy family on stage after Palin's speech. He positioned himself BETWEEN Palin and her family.

...and made small talk with the husband, not with palin herself.

also, their side-by-side arm-in-arm was awkward and short.

So... the whole abstinence before marriage thing now... not so much?

Christian family values are so last election!

Oh Geez. This is incredible. John McCain botched this attempt so bad that he's going to do whatever it takes to wipe the egg off his face. I'm laughing at the media circus.

What are Republicans doing?!

The way the second photo is posed, it looks almost as if Bristol was the grown-up woman and Sarah is just another sibling.

That poor kid, the boyfriend, looks like a deer in the headlights - like he has no idea what just hit him, and Bristol keeps grabbing for his hand in an insecure manner.

Nothing like a White House Shot Gun Wedding, is there?

What a brilliant capture of a totally dysfunctional family.

Matriarch Sarah is off to the side, with the important people, like Cindy, who is in her pre-osteoporosis slouch. Then comes hubby, whose name isn't really all that important. Then the wild child and her soon-to-be baby-daddy. Then the good daughter holding the latest baby. Then the youngest daughter who looks totally separated from the rest. She knows something she's been told not to tell. She doesn't feel she belongs anywhere, certainly not with these people. Then 'Trak' or is it Twigg? The troubled one given the choice of jail or Iraq. He knows what it is to be the outcast and is trying to comfort his little sister. There's more caring between these two than any one else in the lineup.

If they were going to throw this 'feminist' scenario at us they should have done a bit more investigation first. But then, isn't that what the Natl. Enquirer is for? Yes, Sarah, you CAN have it all. But somebody has to pay the price. And if it's not you, then............

A couple of days ago I saw an old photo of Sarah with new baby, giving him a bottle. So, is she nursing or is someone else? I know, I know. But this just keeps getting weirder and weirder.

I have to say this. This entire thing with the Palins just fills me with sadness. Sadness for the children.

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