07/27/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Reading The Pictures: Making The Scene At Bagram

Obama Bagram

Bush Bagram

Seeing Obama in front of American troops at Bagram is not only a great relief (and, hopefully, a preview), it offers a profound contrast with what we've been suffering from.

The Obama pic, a frame grab pulled off a video feed, helps illuminate how much war -- in the Rove/Cheney/Bush era -- has been a slick theatrical production, this scene from Bagram in March '06 offering the standard kit-of-parts: the stars and stripes, the dramatic lighting, the mugging, the branded clothing and the first hugger trained like a laser beam on that lens.

But then, I just discovered that Laura Bush had actually made an appearance at the base just last month. With an emphasis on "appearance," I think this shot is an apt companion to Dubya's scene. Laura-Bush-Bagram

For more of the visual, visit

(image 1: AP Photo/APTN. July 19, 2008. image 2: Eric Draper. March 1, 2006 image 3: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Sunday, June 8, 2008. Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan)