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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


George W. Bush iconography. Errol Morris talks with three photographers -- one each from Reuters, AP, and AFP-- about their ten favorite photographs from the Bush presidency. It is interesting that an administration that was so careful about controlling its message nevertheless had so much trouble controlling its image. My friends who work in photography and media wouldn't be surprised at all, but it strikes me as odd that people responded positively to Bush for most of the past eight years even though this is its image. Could this be because the convincing quality of what we were told was greater than what we were seeing? Perhaps it was wishful thinking. It does seem to me that Bush's oblivious quality often came across as optimism-- however unjustified, no doubt because of his religious faith, he seemed sure things were going to work out fine, and I'm sure a lot of people wanted to go along with that. I do wonder if Bush still believes it. The final interview, and the wrap up speech he gave sure made it seem like that, but the image to the right, taken after his last address to the nation, when he'd come back into the room to make some personal farewells, suggests that he may understand that he will be spending the remander of his days as an object of contempt. It is odd to think that this Freudian Presidency may may have accomplished what he went into office to do-- in the right light Bush pere's tenure certainly seems to have been validated.

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