Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Photo Flap--Who, Me?

Perhaps a dozen photos of George Bush shaking hands with Jack Abramoff exist, maybe more. The Prez may even be shown with his arm around the guy, or in one of those back-slapping ‘tell me that one again’ moments.


BushabramoffphotoPresidential photos are a major industry. They hang proudly on the walls of legislators, staff of legislators, wives of staff and even the occasional lobbyist. Like probably ten thousand of them. Among the ten thousand is Jack, the most famous of them all, at least for the moment.


Somehow or another, the photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein never became a controversial issue, possibly, because it was never withheld. It’s an American axiom that if you’re not going to show me, I’ve absolutely, positively got to see. Careers have been made on that . . . and broken.


And so it goes, the White House once again (tiresomely) making something out of nothing.


If they were anywhere near as good publicizing their agenda as they are bringing critical focus to their blunders, they wouldn’t even need Karl Rove. Dark-side Karl, the father of all this nonsense.


MarymatalinMary Matalin, an informal White House adviser, said the photos should not be released and that, if they are, voters are savvy enough to realize the images are not evidence of a Bush role in the scandal. Matalin, Karl Rove think-alike and self-styled political consultant ought to know about keeping things out of the public eye, having whisked Dick Cheney off to various locations, all of them as undisclosed as the photos in question.


This is an administration that thrives on the cloak and the dagger, that perceives itself in terms of darkness and shadow. It no doubt revels in watching old James Bond movies, the real ones that featured the real man, Sean Connery. They are, each of them, legends in their own minds and real men. The bathroom mirrors of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush have in common the squint-eyed morning poses of men of action, guys in the know, makers of history.


Until it comes to a dozen worthless photos, that have now become the cause celebre of the opposition and front-page focus in the nation’s newspapers. Can you imagine Bond refusing the press? He'd toss the photos at their feet and turn to his martini, shaken, not stirred.


This president, who cannot be stirred, is clearly shaken.


What is the White House, some kind of national kindergarden? What silly games they continue to play. It’s been said (with considerable truth) that Nixon could have avoided resignation if he’d only admitted and shrugged off the Watergate break-in as an embarrassing incident of no importance. Clinton might have (with somewhat more personal difficulty) acknowledged his weakness for babes and pointed in the general direction of John Kennedy.


But presidents seem never to learn and (more to the point) they’re handled and advised by staff that are scared to death of making wrong moves. So they never dare make the right ones, just diddle around pawing the earth in denial while their president swings in the wind.


Note to Karl Rove: Release the stupid pictures, Karl.


They’re coming out anyway. Do you guys really think, in this day and age, that a dozen photos that are already on various walls and desks can really be kept from the front pages?


“Yeah,” George squints at the photo and adjusts his glasses, “I guess that’s Abramoff, if you guys say so. Big money-man, if I remember. I back-slap a million of those guys. Shame he got in trouble, but that’s Washington.” Big grin. 


The country would love it, but he's gonna throw it away.
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