Reading The Pictures: Bush's Victory Worm




How many times did the word "Victory" appear behind or beside Bush in his re-branding of the Iraqi war last week in Annapolis?

The New York Times had a good article this weekend about Peter D. Feaver, the Duke University political scientist who market tested the language:

Despite the president's oft-stated aversion to polls, Dr. Feaver was recruited after he and Duke colleagues presented the administration with an analysis of polls about the Iraq war in 2003 and 2004. They concluded that Americans would support a war with mounting casualties on one condition: that they believed it would ultimately succeed.

In my analysis of the visual bombardment of the word "Victory" during Bush's speech, I mention how the deployment of the word was part of a "neurolinguistic" strategy the Administration routinely uses to frame policy debates. In essence, this tactic involves the use of vivid emotional language to shoehorn people into thinking about something in a very particular way.

When you consider this language manipulation on its surface, it can sound like a lot of mumbo-jumbo. On the other hand, look how instantly the "war on terrorism" embedded itself into the political dialogue --particularly with John Q. Public -- and formed the core paradigm by which the "terrorism problem" is still considered.

Of course, it's an open question whether this "victory" meme can gain a foothold. With the public in a skeptical mood toward Iraq, it's not like BushCo. is working with anything close to a clean slate.

On the other hand, it will be interesting to see if the worm gains any traction. Once this kind of systematic language is let use in the echo chamber, the early mark of success is whether it can jump from talking point-driven Administration advocates to the lips of an often overly suggestive opposition.

For more of the visual, visit

(Strip 1: image 1 and 2: (AFP/Paul J. Richards) image 3: Jason Reed/Reuters. All November 30. Annapolis, Maryland via YahooNews. Strip 2: image 1and 2: AP Photo/Chris Gardner image 3: Jason Reed/Reuters. All November 30. Annapolis, Maryland via YahooNews. Strip 3: image 1: AP Photo/Chris Gardner image 2: REUTERS/Jason Reed image 3: AP Photo/Chris Gardner. All November 30. Annapolis, Maryland via YahooNews.)