Reading The Pictures: Desperate Times Deserve Desperate Metaphors

07/08/2006 11:57 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

iron mike bush.jpg

Seeing this this week's pic of Bush at Fort Bragg, my first take was: How did Rove get through six years of this administration without taking advantage of "Iron Mike"?

The simple answer, though, is: He didn't have to.

As it turns out, Bush actually participated in the rededication of this massive statue back on June 28, 2005. Most of the photos of that event were taken indoors, however, showcasing one of Bush's myriad major "stay the course" speeches designed to resuscitate support for the Iraqi campaign. In this CBS News link, however, you'll see an outdoor assembly was held as well -- though apparently, there was no thought or need at the time to buddy up "W" with a bronze guy ten feet taller than him.

But desperate times deserve desperate metaphors.

The outlandish juxtaposition between little George and big Mike speaks vividly to a whole new White House standard for distraction schemes and war-related theatrical stunts. To the casual eye (and the unthinking press), the Josh Bolton-revised Administration might seem newly confident and reinvigorated. In fact, the "super-sizing" reflects a new level of urgency and mania, illustrating the reverse correlation between a rise in swagger and the fall in "victory" prospects.

Of course, a related point the airman "Big Mike" makes about Bush (who, remember, went missing through much of his own Air Guard duty) is how compulsively the Preznit appears with the military these days. In that light, this shot is practically a cartoonist's joke on the need to hide in the long, large shadow of the fighting man.

bush barrel.jpg

Finally, I couldn't leave the scene without framing one more remembrance of Bush at Fort Bragg. Personally, I've always thought it too easy to attribute phallic references to an image -- but doesn't this just beg for it? At the same time, the shot seems to capture a good slice of Bush's character. I mean, this is the guy we have running our show -- a man stuck in adolescence who not only prefers to shoot first, but does so with a smile on his face.

For more of the visual (including questions about the photo of Steven Green, a U.S. soldier accused of rape and murder in Iraq), visit

(images: Jason Reed/Reuters. North Carolina. July 4, 2006. Via YahooNews)