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Reading The Pictures: The Dynamics Of Tuzla

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2008-03-26-HillaryTuzla1.jpg

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Obviously, visuals can be highly damaging to a candidate, such as the mild images of Hillary at the Tuzla airport after she spoke of being greeted by gunfire. However, we don't often break down why. In this case:

1. The latter shot evokes the image of the threatened young children asleep in Clinton's 3AM "Who Can You Rely On?" ad. What the Tuzla imbroglio does is to raise the question whether Hillary -- upon receipt of that 3 AM call -- wouldn't have trouble accurately interpreting the level of danger to these young innocents.

2. These pictures uncover something of a paranoid streak. The "dramatically non-threatening" scenes undermine the argument Hillary makes that she is constantly under (political) enemy attack.

3. Whereas Chelsea has emerged this year in the role of Hillary's soul-sister, as well as someone who reinforces and insulates the campaign on the gender front, these visuals also call Chelsea's integrity into question, and make her seem more like a political prop.

4. Hillary's over-dramatization of danger in a conflict setting can't help but bring to mind her validation of George Bush's over-dramatization of the threat of Iraqi WMD, and her consequent support of the Iraq war resolution.

5. The Tuzla images start to unwind a great deal of campaign work designed to frame Hillary as the more experienced candidate. In a curious line in the original CBS report in '96, reporter Cheryl Atkinson says: "Mrs. Clinton ... is well aware that she risks looking like she is trying to do the President's job." In the present context, these photos reinforce Clinton as the ambitious former first lady far more than potential Commander-in-Chief.

Embellished Memory (Newsweek)
CBS Exposes Hillary Clinton Bosnia Trip (CBS via YouTube)
1996 Clinton Bosnia Trip (CBS News via YouTube)

(images: CBS. March 25, 1996. via YouTube)