Reading The Pictures: Bush's Holocaust Backdrop

04/22/2007 02:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause and cheers.) This is a hallowed place. Please behave yourself.

-- George Bush. From transcript of remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Museum

Upon hearing about the "Iraq Wall" the American military has been building to divide Sunni and Shia districts in Iraq, it reminded me of the Berlin Wall and the Israeli Defense Wall. It wasn't until I read Digby's take on Friday, however, that I thought about the Germans walling the Jews into ghettos in anticipation of "The Final Solution."

(Early this morning, by the way, I heard from a respected Iraqi blogger -- responding to a post I wrote about the "unphotographed" walls our military is building in Baghdad -- that a third wall has been up for a month, at Al-Khadra, a Sunni area west of Baghdad.)

Which leads me to the one part of GWB's past week that seemed to slip through the cracks. The day after Bush went to Virginia Tech (to supposedly mourn), and the day before he went to Tipp City (to bumble), where did he turn up? Yes, the Holocaust Museum in Washington. The occasion was Holocaust Remembrance Day, being observed at the Capitol on Friday.

As it turned out, the Holocaust visit was a twofer. Besides commemorating the Holocaust, Prez took the opportunity to speak out on the situation in Darfur, even releasing a new U.S. "we mean business" policy fact sheet.

And how did Darfur come into the mix?

Whereas a president would typically determine his policy statements and actions through a combination of real world developments and his ideological and moral agenda, this PR Presidency is driven by calendar events and happenstance. Politically, Bush could hardly have acknowledged the Holocaust without at least referencing what the administration has termed an on-going genocide -- and he especially couldn't do it at the Holocaust Museum, which has drawn an important focus on the Sudan crisis in its exhibitions, activities and outreach.

Honestly, I have trouble even focusing on the pictures of Bush at the Holocaust Museum. Juxtaposed against images of children wearing identifying stars, or scenes of death camps, or even photos of refugees in Africa, Bush seems to lack any comparative weight. As much as his presence in front of this backdrop calls for some kind of analogy, he just looks like a cartoon character to me.

It is this complete lack of weight, however, which makes him so very dangerous. He practically slips by -- the man literally setting in stone the ethnic ghettos of Baghdad.

For more of the visual, visit

(image: Larry Downing/Reuters. United States Holocaust Museum in Washington April 18, 2007. via YahooNews)