I read a damn good article about a week ago titled The Illustrated President from Harper’s Magazine. The subject is the following painting:
Cliff’s Notes: Our eminent president is moved by the above painting of a fearless missionary determined to uphold American values in the Godless West. He takes the painting’s heroic name, A Charge to Keep, for his autobiography. A little research tells us that the painting was an illustration for a short story depicting a horse thief running away from his persecutors, blessed with the caption “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.” Scott Horton ends his bitter analysis of President Bush with:
So Bush’s inspiring, proselytizing Methodist is in fact a horse thief fleeing from a lynch mob. It seems a fitting marker for the Bush presidency. Bush has consistently exhibited what psychologists call the “Tolstoy syndrome.” That is, he is completely convinced he knows what things are, so he shuts down all avenues of inquiry about them and disregards the information that is offered to him. This is the hallmark of a tragically bad executive. But in this case, it couldn’t be more precious. The president of the United States has identified closely with a man he sees as a mythic, heroic figure. In fact that man is a wily criminal one step out in front of justice. It perfectly reflects Bush the man . . . and Bush the president.
It’s a delightfully safe fad to poke fun at Bush. However, after I laughed, I thought about the painting a little more seriously and began to wonder if I really should be laughing at myself for all of my similarities to the President. Continue reading “I’m not too Different from George Bush”