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Michael Shaw Headshot

Reading The Pictures: Atten-TION!

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This shot was taken September 30th at Ft. Myer, and was circulated on yesterday's newswire. It depicts a military ceremony marking the retirement of Military Joint Chief of Staff Richard Meyers. The incoming chief, Marine General Peter Pace, is standing next to Rummy.

With Bush firing off suggestions that the military play a prime role in natural disasters, and ruffling feathers for advocating military intervention in the case of a mass flu epidemic, the image telegraphs that American militarism is losing all proportion.

The specter of war has become so commonplace in politics, the trappings line the view like wall paper. Challenging the visual ratio of the number of military helicopters allowable per square inch, a picture like this virtually begs the question: when is enough enough?

The picture is also interesting for the way it captures Bush. Rummy and Pace are at attention -- which is the minimal requirement for such a ceremony, isn't it? The Commander-in-Chief, however, strays the course. But then, that has been pretty much par for Bush. Some guys focus on the job. Others make a job out of staying in focus.

How do you read the picture?

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(image: Larry Downing/Reuters. Arlington, Virginia. September 30, 2005. YahooNews.)