The soon-to-be most powerful man on the planet stands coatless in his living room, hunched forward, arms at his side, looking for all the world like Dagwood Bumstead. His face is taut and his mouth agape, as if he isn't so much talking as uttering sounds, the type of sounds that people make when they're worried and don't have the words to express it. "Uh, hey," for example. Or, "Whoa." Sounds, in other words, that people make when they're moving.
And that, moving, is precisely what then-president-elect Bush is doing in this front-page New York Times photo. The picture captures him standing amid a chaotic landscape of padded hardwood floors and covered furniture, preparing to leave Austin for Washington, D.C. In the background a worker pushes a dolly of boxes across the room, and in the foreground another worker stands, also hunched over, with his back to the camera. He looks down and away from Bush, whose confounded gaze is aimed in the man's direction. The two seem to be studying something. It could be that the soon-to-be most powerful man on the planet is, at this moment, fretting over the careful packing of a clock. Or, if not a clock, a chair. Or a wedding photo.
Maybe he's not fretting over the packing of anything. But I like to think he is. The notion that the soon-to-be most powerful man on the planet frets about something so mundane as making sure a keepsake arrives safely at his new home makes him seem more like me. Regardless, though, of whether he's fretful, the frozen posture of Bush and the workers juxtaposed against the backdrop of the guy pushing his dolly suggests that something is going on, that a decision is being made, that time has been stopped dead in its tracks even as it marches on. It is a picture that anyone who has ever moved can relate to. That look on the face of the soon-to-be most powerful man on the planet proves that moving makes Dagwood Bumsteads of us all.