If you’ve spent any significant amount of time on this site, you know I don’t think much of George Bush. But as I’ve previously posted, there are, in fact, some things I like about him. And while I pretty much do think he’s a narcissistic lackwit who has no business being president, I’m aware that that view is far from universal. I consider it possible, and maybe even probable, that my negative view of Bush has more to do with my own ideological perspective than it does with Bush’s actual shortcomings. Similarly, there are lots of folks with a different ideological perspective who think he’s the greatest thing that ever happened to this country.
But we ideologues are basically crazy. Forget about us. What about those people in the middle? What do they think of Bush? It’s an important question, since those are the people who are going to decide whether he gets another four years in office.
A lot of folks are working very hard to convince those people that Bush is (or isn’t) fit to be president. And interestingly, news photographs seem to be playing a prominent role in that process. The camera doesn’t lie, after all. Give a person a compelling image, and he or she can hang an idea on it. Dukakis as Snoopy in the tank; that sort of thing.
Bush gave the commencement address today at the Air Force Academy. And boy, did he talk for a long time about the War on Terror. I mean, I’m pretty obsessively interested in his public statements on that topic, and I’m having a hard time getting through it. I seriously feel for the people who had to sit through the speech in real time. (And I’m forced to wonder what lies.com author Craig would think of Bush’s apparent willingness to hijack the commencement and turn it into a platform for his political views. But that’s a separate issue.)
Fortunately, most of us didn’t need to actually listen to the speech. Instead, we can just enjoy the stirring images that emerged from the event. Like this one, helpfully provided by the fine people at whitehouse.gov:
Even I have to admit that he looks pretty good in this picture. Just the right attitude. Way better than he looked in this one, for example. He’s obviously getting the hang of this saluting thing.
Here’s another nice one:
That’s my Commander-in-Chief!
As long as we’re on the subject of symbolic images, I’d like to include a few more. As he was boarding the helicopter at the White House for the trip to Colorado, it was stormy out, so he completed his presidential wardrobe with an umbrella. He looked pretty good with it, too. Check it out:
And this one, too; look at the way he strides purposefully into the oncoming wind. The picture is powerful with symbolism: Bush the war president, facing the storm:
Unfortunately, the symbolism that emerged from the next stage of his journey, when he reached the airport and had to walk to Air Force One, was a little different:
Whoa! Hang on, Mr. President! That storm is turning out to be stronger than you expected!
Erm, well, okay; let’s see. We seem to have a bit of a problem here. Any of you boys from the UN know how to get one of these back together?
Now, I realize that anyone can have their umbrella blow out. Just because it happens to Bush doesn’t mean he’s a doofus. The picture isn’t actually symbolic of anything.
Unless it resonates.
But I get the feeling that for middle-of-the-road voters, that last image actually is fairly representative of their emerging view of Bush. Yeah, he’s a good guy. He’s a straight-shooter who believes in the same fundamental values they do. He’s ended up in a storm he couldn’t have anticipated, a storm that would have tested the most capable of leaders. And he’s given it his best, and deserves his nation’s gratitude for the effort he’s put in.
But however reluctantly, they are concluding that his best just isn’t good enough. Maybe this Kerry fellow has what it takes; maybe he doesn’t. Guess we’ll find out. But Bush, son, I’m afraid we’re going to have to make a change.