The Nature of Things: Our 'cowboy' president

The Nature of Things: There's more than one kind of SPAM

It seems like every columnist in America and Europe is taking pot shots at our president, George W. Bush. I guess it should not be a surprise that a writer from High Country News in Colorado got her heavily biased opinion in last week's Chieftain. Mary Greenfield managed to not only slander our president, but did it by insulting our entire Western heritage and culture by using the term "cowboy" as if it were a profanity.

How did a woman from Brooklyn, N. Y. get to be so knowledgeable about what she called the "myths" of the cowboy image? Well, she has all the credentials ... a master's degree in Western history from the University of Montana in Missoula. If the kind of history being taught at that liberal college is like what many other universities are teaching, it is just another course in revisionist history, whereby the intellectual leftist professors seek out all the negatives of America's past in order to discredit the very people who helped build this nation.

In my opinion, the purpose of Greenfield's cleverly written essay was to help fan the fuels of the antiwar movement by portraying President Bush as a loose cannon masquerading in cowboy's clothing. She delves into his pedigree and Ivy League education to prove that his ownership of a ranch in Texas is all window dressing for arranging "photo ops" of him cutting brush and driving a "big truck." Real macho stuff.

Even if that were true, it would be an improvement over the Clinton presidency. If photographers had followed Clinton around, they could have sold their photos for a porno movie.

But Greenfield didn't stop with slandering Bush. She exposed her elitist class-consciousness by her sarcasm against other "fake" cowboys, especially the ones who played in Western movies. She derides John Wayne for having been named "Marion" Morrison and being born in Iowa. Gary Cooper and William Holden were described as close to being "sociopaths."

However, her most demeaning criticism (next to Bush) was directed at Ronald Reagan who was the "son of an Illinois shoe salesman." (However did he ever overcome that handicap?) She degraded Reagan for picking on "backlit nations that didn't cause much trouble," namely Panama and Granada, while totally ignoring that President Reagan's anti-communist policies brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union. Next to winning WWII, the implosion of what Reagan called "the evil empire" was the most significant event of the 20th century. One would think that someone with a master's degree in history might have noticed this.

But that wouldn't be enough to keep Reagan from being discredited by the Brooklyn cowboy basher. After all, he also owned a ranch and was frequently photographed riding a horse. That made him into another reckless, swaggering fake "cowboy." Never mind that anyone carrying the awesome responsibility of leader of the free world certainly should be entitled to have a relaxing escape from the burdens of his office.

If Greenfield wanted to bash a really big fake cowboy, why doesn't she go after Ted Turner? He owns more land than any other rancher in America, even though he hates cows. Yes, he hates cows. He raises only buffalo. He thinks that makes him more macho to restore the thundering herds of the Old West. But he gets a pass from Greenfield because he's from the radical left.

So what we have here is today's intellectual historians picking and choosing their heroes and demons based on their political alignment. There are hundreds of thousands of others from the counterculture of the '60's who refuse to even study or try to understand the lessons of history. To these people there has been only one war ... Vietnam. And according to them everything about that was was a disgrace for America. To this group, the most significant even of the 20th century was when the Beatles came to the United States. The second most important happening was the orgy at Woodstock.

Ms. Greenfield is probably much too young to have witnessed either of these infamous events, but I'll bet she was deeply influenced in her condescending attitude toward "cowboys" by her professors of Western history who were no doubt very active members of the Woodstock generation. Anyway, this column is this old cowboy's rebuttal to Mary Greenfield's insulting diatribe.

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