It’s not political theater, even political amphitheater. It’s beyond political grandstanding, even though there are grandstands in the picture. It’s the political imagemaking equivalent of the chariot race in Ben Hur: Air Force One taking off next to Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500.
And it was purely for show; GWB had already run a partial lap around the track in his motorcade before turning the gaggle of NASCAR drivers into colorful extras for his own photo op. [The composition is similar to the Thanksgiving turkey shoot in Iraq, where a 3-D environment wraps around Bush, as opposed to the less sophisticated made-from-people backdrop.] I can’t wait for a similar shot from the Republican Convention, with corporate sponsors swarming around Bush in a visual cacophany of be-logoed gear.
Whatever your leanings, you have to be daft, numb and blind to not appreciate the near-sublime stagecraft of White House Productions’ Scott Sforza. [via NYT’s David Sanger]
Update [via Slate’s Bryan Curtis]: in 1969 Nixon tried to pull the same sports photo op to appeal to the same demographic by choppering into the Texas-Arkansas football game. The resulting photos are positively primitive compared to Sforza’s handiwork. No DW Griffith, but it got the criticism-deflecting job done.