Before the Campaign ‘12 results come in this evening, I want to pay my respects to one of America’s finest editorial photographers. I’m constantly taken by his ability to capture meanings on multiple levels. Take his images from candidate Romney’s final blitz, for example. On face value, Stephen Crowley is merely offering glimpses into stagecraft and campaign ephemera. Look further though, and the photos are silent editorials, even essays about the candidate, his personality and political culture.

I want to touch on a few of Crowley’s images that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times slideshow entitled: “To the White House? Or Home to Massachusetts?” as Crowley sees Mitt back to the land of the 1%.

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Bag’s Take-Away:

I don’t really know how to put this in words, but something about these two late October photos in the same Reuters slide show struck me as cementing conceptions of the two candidates for president. Romney alone and waiting, the focus on the man waiting for the verdict. A woman with her back to him, but every other human nearly incorporeal. He’s the only real solid in the photo. A lonely solid. If I could paint, this could be my portrait of him.

In the other photo; Obama is embraced by a man who seems almost humbled by the president’s attention: he’s hugging Obama in an intent if awkward manner, his arm solidly around the president’s waist. His fellow fire fighters smiling at his vulnerability and the interaction. Again, if I could paint, this could be my portrait — not of the president, but of his emotional impact. I don’t know why or how Obama engenders this dynamic, but it is genuine and evident in this photograph.

via Reuters Obama vs. Romney Slide Show

(Top Photo Credit: Bryan Snyder/Reuters caption: Staff members are reflected off the window of the room as Mitt Romney works before a campaign rally in North Canton, Ohio October 26, 2012. Bottom Photo Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters caption: President Obama hugs a fire fighter who offered up a game of basketball during a visit to a fire house in Tampa, Florida October 25, 2012.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
 The media (justifiably) goes after Romney for taking the day off yesterday, the newly-minted candidate not only choosing not to acknowledge Labor Day (maybe he thought he was snubbing the union movement?). Rather than lying low and just doing a b-b-q, however, he’s out doing the boating/yachting thing. Like the vacation over Fourth of July while Obama bypassed Camp David or Martha Vineyard for campaigning on Main Street, Romney’s response (as it was at the time) is that he’s earned his vacations. Anyway, it’s belaboring the obvious to say that yesterday’s optics are terrible — especially since that’s the way my local news channel framed it. It’s like Romney is doing to himself what it took Rove to do to Kerry in 2004 … in framing a tall, handsome dude as extremely rich, out of touch, and a man of expedience: Same tune, different body of water.
Video via The Washington Post
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Bag’s Take-Away:

The media (justifiably) goes after Romney for taking the day off yesterday, the newly-minted candidate not only choosing not to acknowledge Labor Day (maybe he thought he was snubbing the union movement?). Rather than lying low and just doing a b-b-q, however, he’s out doing the boating/yachting thing. Like the vacation over Fourth of July while Obama bypassed Camp David or Martha Vineyard for campaigning on Main Street, Romney’s response (as it was at the time) is that he’s earned his vacations. Anyway, it’s belaboring the obvious to say that yesterday’s optics are terrible — especially since that’s the way my local news channel framed it. It’s like Romney is doing to himself what it took Rove to do to Kerry in 2004 … in framing a tall, handsome dude as extremely rich, out of touch, and a man of expedience: Same tune, different body of water.

Video via The Washington Post

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Bag’s Take-Away:
 This Souza White House photo is nothing special — unless you’ve been following  the saga of Churchill’s bust. The fact it anchors a campaign rebuttal and is served up as documentary evidence actually is unusual however, as the White House post points out.  So it goes in a campaign season in which absolutely nothing is left on the table, or the credenza, or the bookcase in the daily tit-for-tat.
via WhiteHouse.gov
(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption:  President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

This Souza White House photo is nothing special — unless you’ve been following the saga of Churchill’s bust. The fact it anchors a campaign rebuttal and is served up as documentary evidence actually is unusual however, as the White House post points out.  So it goes in a campaign season in which absolutely nothing is left on the table, or the credenza, or the bookcase in the daily tit-for-tat.

via WhiteHouse.gov

(credit: Pete Souza/Official White House Photo caption: President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:

Bad weekend for Romney…photos of uber rich donors’ cars queued up for a fundraiser, elitist quotes from attendees, photos of the Romney boat at his vacation manse and in front of a child’s toy that costs anywhere from $300-400. The campaign is taking quite a risk banking on competence trumping displays of ostentatious wealth.

Top photo via The Atlantic Wire. Bottom photo via Business Insider.

(Top photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek/AP Photo Bottom photo credit: Charles Dharapak/AP Photo caption:Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney walks past sons Craig, Matt, and Josh after a swim on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, N.H., Friday, July 6, 2012, as he continues his vacation from the campaign trail.)

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Tags #Mitt Romney    #Hamptons Fundraiser    #Politics    #Campaign 2012    #News    #1%    #Economy    #Romney Family   

Bag’s Take-Away:
Kitchen table issues at the kitchen table. It occurs to me that the Obama team is taking nothing for granted. Even if the image is cliché and hackneyed, the O team is there.
via The Charlotte Observer
Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo caption: President Barack Obama meets with Val and Paul Keller in their home, Friday, May 11, 2012, in Reno, Nev.
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Bag’s Take-Away:

Kitchen table issues at the kitchen table. It occurs to me that the Obama team is taking nothing for granted. Even if the image is cliché and hackneyed, the O team is there.

via The Charlotte Observer

Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo caption: President Barack Obama meets with Val and Paul Keller in their home, Friday, May 11, 2012, in Reno, Nev.

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Bag’s Take-Away:
A minor but noticeable goof on the part of Obama’s advance team…. 
via BBC Day in Pictures
(credit:Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP caption:  US President Barack Obama speaks on the economy following a tour of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s complex at the State University of New York.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

A minor but noticeable goof on the part of Obama’s advance team….

via BBC Day in Pictures

(credit:Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP caption: US President Barack Obama speaks on the economy following a tour of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s complex at the State University of New York.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
Inside-the Beltway shot of the day. 
Well known political handlers watch the Obama’s rally and become just one of the elements of the presidential campaign performance, right up there with supporters, signs, and a marching band. 
via The New York Times
(credit: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times caption:  White House and campaign staff members, including, from right, Jon Favreau, David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Jay Carney and Jim Messina, watched offstage as President Obama formally kicked off his re-election campaign in Columbus on Saturday.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

Inside-the Beltway shot of the day.

Well known political handlers watch the Obama’s rally and become just one of the elements of the presidential campaign performance, right up there with supporters, signs, and a marching band.

via The New York Times

(credit: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times caption: White House and campaign staff members, including, from right, Jon Favreau, David Plouffe, David Axelrod, Jay Carney and Jim Messina, watched offstage as President Obama formally kicked off his re-election campaign in Columbus on Saturday.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
Barbie and Ken campaign – just like a couple out of a 19th century pioneer photo (but let’s face it, that’s where Michele lives). 
via The Sacramento Bee
(photo: Jae C. Hong/AP caption: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., arrive at a campaign stop in Portsmouth, Va., Thursday.)
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Bag’s Take-Away:

Barbie and Ken campaign – just like a couple out of a 19th century pioneer photo (but let’s face it, that’s where Michele lives).

via The Sacramento Bee

(photo: Jae C. Hong/AP caption: Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., arrive at a campaign stop in Portsmouth, Va., Thursday.)

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Bag’s Take-Away:
Ann Romney wears a $1000 T-shirt to tell the world her hubby is a regular guy just like them!
Certainly, a lot was made four years ago about Michelle Obama as the first dresser, and her astute sense of how to present herself in times of economic distress. That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t been opulent, too. It does mean, however, that she and the President have been sensitive, and smart, about symbolism and setting a tone. 
Conversely, given the impression Mitt is just a little out of touch with the 99%, the Romney campaign has had a marvelous opportunity over the past few weeks to help refashion itself, creating more dimensionality and humanity around Ann Romney, wife and mother. The opportunity has been that much more opportune given the chance to also ground Mitt’s aside in Detroit about how many Cadillacs Ann happens to own. 
All these factors made this scene from CBS‘s This Morning, otherwise petty, more than just chicken feed. 
Stated bluntly: if you use your wife to humanize you and to help relate to the average American, you might want to remind her before sitting down for coffee with the nation NOT to wear her $990 Madison Avenue,  Reed Krakoff-designed t-shirt, one so colorfully missing from the closets of 99% of your countrymen (or women). Since this is a tenet of Campaigning 101, it takes very little movement to conclude that the Romneys, like birds of a feather, just don’t get it.
Read More at What’s in a T-Shirt
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Bag’s Take-Away:

Ann Romney wears a $1000 T-shirt to tell the world her hubby is a regular guy just like them!

Certainly, a lot was made four years ago about Michelle Obama as the first dresser, and her astute sense of how to present herself in times of economic distress. That doesn’t mean that she hasn’t been opulent, too. It does mean, however, that she and the President have been sensitive, and smart, about symbolism and setting a tone.

Conversely, given the impression Mitt is just a little out of touch with the 99%, the Romney campaign has had a marvelous opportunity over the past few weeks to help refashion itself, creating more dimensionality and humanity around Ann Romney, wife and mother. The opportunity has been that much more opportune given the chance to also ground Mitt’s aside in Detroit about how many Cadillacs Ann happens to own.

All these factors made this scene from CBS‘s This Morning, otherwise petty, more than just chicken feed.

Stated bluntly: if you use your wife to humanize you and to help relate to the average American, you might want to remind her before sitting down for coffee with the nation NOT to wear her $990 Madison Avenue, Reed Krakoff-designed t-shirt, one so colorfully missing from the closets of 99% of your countrymen (or women). Since this is a tenet of Campaigning 101, it takes very little movement to conclude that the Romneys, like birds of a feather, just don’t get it.

Read More at What’s in a T-Shirt

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