It's very seldom you see perfect pictures—especially from the campaign trail, although there have been some exemplars over the years. If this picture doesn't make you laugh and shake your head....
Mark Wallheiser's amazing shot of (I'm going to have to write these next five words, so steel yourself) Republican front-runner Donald Trump greeting supporters after a rally in Mobile, Alabama, looks like a seamless cross between Norman Rockwell and Mad magazine. Almost every square centimeter of it tells, from the fact that Trump's famous weasel-fur toupée is now dyed blond to the policeman's shoulder patch in the lower right corner. Virtually every face in the crowd is wonderful. (We'll discount the remote, though not unimaginable, possibility that all these people are actors hired by Trump operatives.)
I also like its ambivalence: I suppose you could think it's the same degree of perfect whether you are a Trump lover or a Trump loather. It expresses both points of view simultaneously. (I first ran across this odd property in Kyle Cassidy's book about guns: I think those pictures could be equally eloquent for gun freaks or gun control freaks.)
I don't think I need to mention which one I am. I disliked Trump (who Rex Huppke calls "America's car alarm going off for no reason") when he was just an egomaniacal fake billionaire*, much less a cartoonish, buffoonish TV star, much less a presidential candidate. The only step down from here would be if he got elected Pope.
The picture follows an unintentionally funny analysis in The New York Times saying that Trump gets his strongest support from Americans who don't actually vote.
Of course the center of the whole picture—in that field rich with mini-vignettes—is the amazing woman at the center of it all, overwhelmed that her baby (whose hilarious "well, whatever" expression is just as perfect as any of the others) is actually being touched by the reality-show star turned candidate. Chris Cillizza, writing in The Washington Post about this photograph, said, "the sheer joy apparent on her face from being close to a celebrity like Trump is near-perfectly symbolic of our current political culture." Comma, gulp.
I'm guessing this is the right website for the Mark Wallheiser who took the picture. Looks like a real vet. Great eye. Got a masterpiece this time. Kudos to Mark.
[UPDATE: I heard from Mark Wallheiser and he says "Yes, it's me and thanks for the kind words." —Ed.]
(Thanks to Michael G)
*The New Yorker, in a carefully researched article several years ago, concluded that Trump's peak wealth never reached more than a fraction of one billion dollars, much less the five or ten he routinely claims. Picture Alfred E. Neuman: What, me exaggerate?
Original contents copyright 2015 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Frank Petronio (partial comment): "I support Trump. I understand the aversion to his pomposity and the ease at which his hair can be ridiculed, but compared to the rest of the field he actually articulates economic policies that would improve things for most Americans. Would he actually be effective in Washington? Probably not, but not any less than any other idealistic president. I welcome him simply for disrupting the status quo."
Mike replies: I thought I'd hear from you, Frank! Politically you're the anti-me and vice-versa—but our shared interest in photography bridges that divide and makes us friends "despite."
So do you like Mark's picture?
Robert Roaldi: "I wanted to bring a non-photo book to your attention: Enlightenment 2.0 by Joseph Heath, a University of Toronto philosophy professor who works and writes primarily in matters of social policy."
"Being reasonable is not nearly as natural as we think it is. Our brains, Heath writes, happen to be very good at some things, like matching patterns and identifying our team against the other team, but we perform rational tasks like considering hypotheticals or following complicated arguments only as a last resort.
"Without forcing ourselves to be reasonable, humans fall victim to a familiar set of cognitive biases, which feel reasonable, but are not. To name a few, our intuitive minds are irrationally optimistic, self-serving, short-sighted, terrified of loss, prone to see patterns where none exist, and mostly inclined to confirm our own suspicions."
—from a review of the book by Ivor Tossell
Marv Van Drunen: "Photos being taken by people in the crowd: Cell phone cameras 11, traditional cameras 1."
Jeffrey MacMillan: "I have photographed Trump a couple of times, including recently at the launch of one of his golf courses where he actually said 'golf matters' to an attentive all-white audience!
"However I will say, I have never otherwise been approached, after a shoot, by a celebrity or even a CEO (not his handlers), and asked if I had everything I needed, and to volunteer to do more if needed. Trump did that. I was stunned. He, unlike so many other 'movers and shakers,' knows the impact of image in modern media. And that is one reason why he is doing so well...."
Wolters: "Martin Parr meets Weegee."
Mike replies: Good. Very good.
Roger Bradbury: "Another phrase which expresses both points of view simultaneously is, '[Prime minister] Maggie Thatcher made this country (the UK) what it is today.' Many people here agree, but some think it's a very good thing, some think it was definitely not. I noticed that a large proportion of the gun owners in Kyle Cassidy's book owned cats, but perhaps I'm just, as Ivor Tossell says, prone to seeing patterns where none exist."
Darlene Almeda: "It is nice to see a local Tallahassee photographer get coverage. The last time I saw Mark was at a local art and photography exhibit where we both had pictures chosen for display in our City Hall. Great job Mark!"