Saturday, May 05, 2007

Media Complicity in the White House's Image Building Machinery

In today's N.Y. Times, there's an article entitled For Queen and First Lady, Bush Will Try White Tie. This is notable because of the picture it paints of the "aw shucks" hayseed salt of the Earth George W. and his encounter with the oh-so-particular Queen and the fusty niceties of high society:
How does George W. Bush, a towel-snapping Texan who puts his feet on the coffee table, drinks water straight from the bottle and was once caught on tape talking with food in his mouth prepare for a state dinner with the queen?

It will be closely watched by the social elite for its collision of cultures — Texas swagger meets British prim. Dinner attire is white tie and tails, the first and, perhaps, only white-tie affair of the Bush administration. The president was said to be none too keen on that, but bowed to a higher power, his wife.
The meat of the article goes on to paint the President, the First Lady, and entire administration machinery being as giddy as schoolgirls getting ready for the prom. Bush is being prepped ("Don't drink water straight from the bottle! The Queen is Your Majesty and the prince is Your Royal Highness! Don't chew with your mouth open!"), flowers are being arranged, and ever so nervously the country bumpkins in D.C. will put their best foot forward to not offend the company.

But this is, quite deliberately, bullshit. Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Jim Rutenberg are basically carrying water for the administration here. In fact, Bush is no stranger to this environment in the slightest. Let's keep in mind that his roots are not those of some Dust Bowl Okie or oil-wrangling roughneck, but instead Bush has shown himself to be more than comfortable in the upper crust Yankee milieu from which he actually comes.

In fact (and this point is finally disclosed in one of the last paragraphs of the article), Bush 43 and his wife were guests at the last state dinner for Queen Elizabeth. The fact is that the Bushes are old hands at this type of thing. What type of thing? Well, at moving in the elite of monied society, pretending that they're not the elite of monied society, and getting the compliant media to spin the image that they want to project.

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