Bush years: Good, bad and ugly
Reuters Washington staff photographer Kevin Lamarque made the move to White House coverage in 1999. Before that, he was covering London politics spanning the end of Margaret Thatcher, the John Major years, and the beginning of the Tony Blair era. Washington proved to be an interesting contrast. He has covered the final two years of the President Bill Clinton, and all eight years of President George W. Bush.
As one of only two Reuters photographers covering the entire eight years of President Bush’s term, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately, most of his time was defined by the latter two.
Early days in Crawford, with both of us looking much younger.
From the beginning Bush seemed a most unlikely President. I have often used the metaphor of a schoolboy who has not studied for an exam showing up on test day. He seemed as surprised as anyone that he actually was in fact president. He gradually grew into the role, though it could be argued that it never was a good fit.
The attacks of 9/11 defined his term in office. For photographers, this meant an end to the lighter side of things. There would be few photos of a President at leisure. No more golf outings, very few cultural trips abroad which are traditionally image feasts for photographers. Everything took on a very serious tone, and our photos were generally limited to men in suits looking very grave about what was going on in the world.
At Bush’s last G8 summit, looking very much alone in the world.
While things may not have gone smoothly in a political sense, George W. Bush was very likeable as a person. He still goofed around like the frat boy he was portrayed of being. He was very much a regular guy and could connect with the man on the street. That was his strength. And he really believed in what he was doing. There were times that it was hard not to feel sympathy for him, and also times where you could not help but laugh, sometimes with, sometimes at.
Pardoning the turkey at Thanksgiving, Nov 2001. After this photo, the turkey was never allowed such free rein.