1. BEWARE OF THE SWAMP RABBIT
On a 1979 fishing trip, Jimmy Cater's photographers caught him trying to scare away a bunny that was torpedoing toward his boat. Then, his publicity team accidentally leaked the photos to the press. Carter's electoral prospects against Ronald Reagan were already grim given the puttering economy, the Iran hostage crisis, and Billy Beer's terrible flavor, but the hilarious shots of the president fending off a fluffy swamp rabbit didn't help.
2. BEFORE THEY WERE ENEMIES
Only a few early 1980s fads have aged gracefully, and photo ops of American leaders shaking hands with Saddam Hussein isn't one of them. Donald Rumsfeld no doubt wishes this photo didn't exist, but probably not as much as Detroit regrets giving Hussein a key to the city in 1980.
3.THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS 9-YEAR-OLD
During the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton recalled dodging sniper fire upon landing at the airport on a 1996 visit to Bosnia -at least until photos and video surfaced showing Clinton calmly exiting the plane, accepting gifts, and hugging children. Clinton quickly admitted that she "misspoke." Comedian Sinbad, also a member of the elite team assembled for this dangerous mission, quipped: "I think the only 'red-phone' moment was: 'Do we eat here, or at the next place?'"
4. DROPPING THE BALL
Robert Stanfield's 1974 campaign for Canadian prime minister was already collapsing when this hot-potato photo emerged, but the symbolism was so delicious that the country's major papers ran his fumble into the end zone. The Toronto Sun eventually published shots of Stanfield catching the ball, too, but by then it was too late -the butterfingered photo had already sacked the campaign.
5. THE ROCKEFINGER
After Vice President Nelson Rockefeller enthusiastically flipped off some jeering hippies during a 1976 Ford/Dole campaign rally, the photo of his "satanic, sneering derision" fronted papers across the country. Despite the bad press, Rockefeller declined to apologize, saying that he was"responding in kind." And just like his father, for whom Rockefeller Center was named, Nelson became a namesake in his own right: the term "Rockefeller Salute" was coined in his honor.
6. HE SEEMS NICE
The truly embarrassing thing about First Lady Rosalynn Carter's friendly photo op with John Wayne Gacy isn't that he turned out to be a serial killer. It's that the Secret Service completely missed a red flag -Gacy had a previous felony conviction for sodomy- when they gave him the security clearance pin seen in the photo.
7. SMOKE ONE FOR THE GIPPER
As president, Ronald Reagan said, "Just Say No to Drugs." But as a movie star, he was happy to say yes to Chesterfields. Reagan later claimed that he was never much of a smoker aside from the occasional puff on a pipe to impress girls, so while he was happy to hawk the smokes, it's unlikely Reagan appreciated the gift of Chesterfield mildness himself.
8. PHOTO OPS AND ROBBERS
Bank robber John Dillinger was only briefly behind bars during his criminal career. While doing a 1934 stint in an Indiana jail, he struck this pose with Lake County prosecutor Robert Estill. The shot became a nightmare for Estill just two months into Dillinger's sentence, when the public enemy staged a Hollywood-style escape using a piece of wood carved into the shape of a gun. The photo went viral, ultimately leading to Estill's walking papers.
9. SOLITAIRE CONFINEMENT
In 2009, Connecticut State Reps. Barbara Lambert and Jack F. Hennessy learned that no matter how boring state budget debates get, one must fight the urge to play solitaire. Just shameful -true leaders only play Minesweeper.
10. LET THEM WEAR FLIP-FLOPS
What do you do when your dictator husband's regime tumbles and photos of your 2,700-pair shoe collection become the crowning symbol of your family's corruption? If you're former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos, you open a shoe museum in Manila. Bonus points for telling the press, "Thank God when they raided Imelda's closet they found no skeletons, only shoes."
__________________________The above article by Stacy Conradt is reprinted with permission from the May-June 2012 issue of mental_floss magazine.
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