Reading The (Late October) Pictures: The Return Of Pumpkin Head


Did you see this newswire shot on Friday turning the White House into a shrunken haunted castle? With all the trouble that Bush has gotten himself into, the (visual) media is on its way to turning him into a goblin -- or a pumpkin.

Which might suit Karl Rove just fine.

Perhaps the most tried-and-true trick Rove has played over the years is to dress Bush up as someone overly dim. Of course, it's been years now since Karl has had to dust off that costume. In the wake of 9/11, Bush got to be the cowboy instead, sweetening his own deal by treating the rest of us to fear mongering and patriotism tests.

With the thrashing the Administration has taken this year, however, it's starting to look like 2000 (or 2001, or 2002) all over again. Which means, hide those pretzels and get ready to be reacquainted with the more bumbling Bush. (I'm not saying he isn't bumbling, by the way. I'm saying that Rove and Bush are expert at exploiting this perception for the purpose of lowering expectations.)


It's not that Bush will be channeling Alfred E. Neuman, or that the White House will completely relax the script to expose W's lightweight nature. (Although we'll see plenty of poses like this one, of the Prez pretending the dog just ate his homework -- or the prosecutor just ate his right hand man's right hand man).


What we will see, however, is the visual press beating the "doofus" theme to death.

If the past is any indicator, Rove and Bush will humor the ridicule as a way to buy time and lower the heat. If they are still in the game after that, we can expect are any number of different tricks. The well worn one, of course, would be some new panic around a fresh set of enemies in order to (seemingly all of a sudden) make Bush a character to be reckoned with again.

For more of the visual, visit

(image 1: J. Scott Applewhite/A.P. October 26, 2005. White House, Washington. Via YahooNews. image 2: Brendan Smialowski/AFP. October 28, 2005. White House, Washington. Via YahooNews. image 3: Larry Downing/Reuters. October 28, 2005. White House, Washington. Via YahooNews.)