Yee-Haw: Bush’s Cowboy Persona

Quick on the draw and trigger-happy, George W. Bush is portrayed a sharp shooter on a brick wall in Sydney, Australia. His played-up Roy Rogers image evidently carried overseas.

SET 'EM UP - Former President George W. Bush Jr. depicted a true cowboy on a brick wall in Sydney, Australia. The subject of much mockery, his identity as a cowboy was not received well overseas.

Almost from the beginning of his presidency, Bush was graced with an American cowboy stereotype. His propensity to speak in Bushisms (common characteristics include, but are not limited to: malapropisms, mispronunciations, unconventional words, and grammatically incorrect subject-verb agreement) certainly didn’t harm the image.

An article in Americana, an American Pop Culture Magazine, notes that editorial writers and public figures frequently began describing Bush in ‘cowboy-esque’ terms following the September 11, 2001 attacks. As terrorism surfaced a topic of hot discussion, commentators began to portray Bush as a sheriff in the Old West “who would go it alone without a posse if need be in order to defeat what he saw as lawlessness and evil.”

In the months leading up to the start of the War in Iraq, the representation of Bush as a straight-shootin’ Wyatt Earp-wannabe continued. In an address to the nation on March 17, 2003, Bush declared, “Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.” (Americana)

Bold and threatening, the ultimatum added fuel to the fire. Bush, not one to cool his guns, was depicted by several news articles as a Matt Dillon-type who told outlaws to get the hell out of Dodge or face the consequential shootout. Reuters even ran a story on March 19, 2003 entitled “High Noon for Cowboy Era,” in which the opening sentence declared that Bush’s ultimatum was a throwback to the Wild West for Arabs.

Turns out, the cowboy image was received fairly positively by Americans, especially among conservatives, who (at the time, anyway) found the good-ole-boy-from-the-South-persona endearing. The American fascination with the cowboy is a long-standing one, after all. Among other parts of the world, however, a negative image of the cowboy reinforced disgust with Bush’s handling of various policies, including his actions toward the Iraq situation.

This image, an outright mockery of Bush’s cowboy identity, clearly sides with those feelings of disgust.

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