Reading The Pictures: Hey George, TIME's Up!


Without the words, what does this photo-illustration really say about George Bush and his miserable record?

According to the text, it's about isolation. But isn't the picture more about exit?

If TIME was making the point that Bush had walked out on his responsibility, the picture would make sense. But, how is a guy isolated if you show him going somewhere (toward a place, this delusional Administration keeps insisting, where everything is still going to turn out right)?

If text and image are mismatched, the pic does, however, provide some election commentary -- if in a more generic way.

Reading the picture, this election -- far more than Rove would prefer said out loud -- is about Bush's official and undeniable transformation into a lame duck. Not news, you say? It is, considering the psychology of this crew. It's relevant to the extent that the awareness of what is finite, in almost any form (be it power, money or time), usually comes as a blow to the omnipotent.

So here we are. It's the mid-point of his second term and the elections have arrived. In one sense, what difference does it make whether he's favored or has faltered? He's entering the long shadow now. If he had remade the world into a second Garden of Eden, he would still be history.

And yet, this guy -- who did make a disaster of things, and who was never that interested in the job in the first place -- still needs one of world's largest frames just to disappear stage right left.

For more of the visual, visit

(Update: 3 pm EST: Thanks for the comments regarding stage direction.  I guess I just couldn't imagine Bush ever turning left.)

(image: Ron Edmonds/A.P. TIME Magazine. Cover. November 6, 2006)