That Photo 

By now, everyone has seen this photograph of the happy couple welcoming their children into their lives. There’s so much to unpack in it, I don’t honestly know where to begin.

First, the gaze. Such a loving look shared between two people hopelessly in love with each other and happy beyond description warms the heart. 

Second, the two bundles of joy being held by the “parents.” Newborns, obviously. Tiny, vulnerable and blessedly, at the moment the photographer snapped the photo, asleep. (Who will nurse them when they wake up, hungry and crying? But I digress).

Third, the hospital set. Of course, it’s a set. They are likely not in an actual hospital, but just posing in a hospital bed. Note the detail that the designer of this nice piece of propaganda remembers to include: The crappy rolling table complete with an old-fashioned corded telephone; and most exquisitely perfect—the matching hospital bracelets each proud father is sporting. Even their clothes are rather rumpled and wrinkled as if they’d just gone through a grueling labor. 

Propaganda is meant to elicit emotion, not thought. And reading the comments on Twitter and Facebook, this was a roaringly successful piece of propaganda. Filled with women gushing over parenthood, Pete and Chasten are enveloped by the love of strangers, just as these two innocent infants are being enveloped by them.

This won’t be the end of the photo ops for these sweet children. They will be held up constantly as priceless little objects in the vainglorious Pete and Chasten show! Why, if they are lucky, they’ll end up in the White House! And make no mistake, they will be used again as campaign props throughout their childhood. The coming photographs of them and their parents will be just as carefully choreographed as this one.

An astute, but perhaps rude observer might ask, “So where’s the mother?” Good question, but highly inappropriate. You see, once the “mother” (or mothers) finished her business, she was no longer a necessary part of this lovely picture. She did her “job.” Her usefulness is over. She has been disappeared. 

Beyond the happy comments and warm feelings this elicits, this is the true and frankly ugly nature of this picture. It’s obvious that the mother is superfluous. 

She was just a breeder, a kind of cattle, to these two wealthy, powerful, elite, white men. She performed a function so they could own two sweet pieces of property. Two vulnerable and now motherless infants will grow up in a home full of every luxury known to these men. I’m sure the nursery is set up with thousands of dollars of lovely furniture, toys, and luxury clothing. I’m quite sure they will live in a home filled with everything their little hearts will ever desire—except a mother. 

At about the same time this photograph was shared, there was another very important story coming out of the Supreme Court via Texas. SCOTUS narrowly refused to hear a case brought by an abortion clinic there, desperate to continue their dirty lucrative business of murdering children not much younger than these two. Women across the country, we are led to believe, are in shock over this ghastly development.

We are inundated with references to “The Handmaid’s Tale,” where women made to dress up like Cardinal Richelieu (for some unknown reason) are forced to carry children for wealthy, powerful, elite, white men and then have their infants taken from them in order to start the process over again. How a Texas abortion statute aligns with that story is never explained.

But, wait a minute, you might ask. Isn’t this happy picture of Pete and Chasten the epitome of that story? Have they not just done the unthinkable? Have they not contracted with some woman or women to breed for them and having done her/their “job/jobs” been whisked away from the scene? Are those critically important women who gave birth to these two just gone? Have they not treated these children as commodities in order to stage this photograph to make THEM look like the perfect parents in the perfect setting with two perfect little children? 

Be assured, Pete and Chasten and all the important people waxing rhapsodic over this photograph have done more to denigrate women than any Texas abortion law.

If you read the comments under this photo in Twitter and Facebook, you will see how perfectly easy it is for people to be propagandized and manipulated. It’s all so wonderful. It’s all so normal, it’s all so . . .  ghastly. 

But please don’t say that out loud, you homophobic theocrat. 


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About Pamela Shuman Lange

Pamela Shuman Lange hails from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. A graduate of Wilson College, she has worked in development, marketing, and public relations for several liberal arts colleges and for National Review Institute. She is active in local politics and is an amateur FaceBook provocateur.

Photo: Pete Buttigieg Facebook