Keep the Adoring Troops Behind the Barrier, Please

White House photo by Eric Draper

Nice shot by Bush’s personal photographer from the recent surprise Iraq visit. How many “surprise visits” does that make? I’ve lost track. Bush gave a surprisingly unmangled speech (at least according to the official transcript), covering very familiar ground. He knows it’s tough being on a long deployment (not first hand, but whatever). He thinks the Iraqi government is doin’ a heck of a job. And, oh yeah, 9/11, 9/11, 9/11. Except he doesn’t say “9/11”, he says “September the 11th”. No cheap vernacular phrases for this president. This is a man with gravitas.

So after giving his boilerplate speech, Bush goes out amongst the troops to press a little flesh. Yeah, right into the midst of that handpicked throng of well-wishers. Except, wait, what’s this? A waist-high concrete wall, erected in the middle of what looks like a ballroom, is getting between Bush and the crowd. How did that get there?

Someone has realized that Bush among the troops doesn’t look so convincing if he’s straining to reach people’s hands over a cattle barrier. But that’s what secret security guys are for, right? So if we put this guy with the blue shirt right in front of Bush, and a couple others sort of off to the side, and shoot it with a fisheye lens to sort of expand everything that surrounds the focal point, well it kinda looks like he’s in the middle of the mob. Sure, you can still see the barrier if you look for it, but anyone giving this image a cursory glance will probably miss it.

This is a perfect example of Bush’s ambivalent relationship with our people in uniform. He needs them to implement his neocon foreign policy strategy. He also goes out of his way to identify himself as a military man at every opportunity (think “flight suit”). But his own military service was more like an extended spring break than a combat situation. He also doesn’t want to get too chummy with the families of soldiers here at home, because that’s an inconvenient reminder of the human costs of war. He definitely doesn’t want to do anything like honor our war dead by showing up at a military funeral, because that sends the wrong message.

2 thoughts on “Keep the Adoring Troops Behind the Barrier, Please

  1. People will look back at this period and wonder whether or not America was true to its beginnings; whether we strongly believed in the universality of freedom and whether we were willing to act on it. Certainly we acted in our own self-interest right after September the 11th…

    *raises hand*

    I know the answer, teacher!

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