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.