foreign policy actions he supports today.48 In this concluding chapter, I will elaborate
why adopting cowboy ethics become useful in enunciating the Bush Doctrine, as
described by the National Hero, the Common Man, the Justice Fighter, and the Man of
I. The National Hero
Because of the prevailing American image of the cowboy, politicians can use the
Western hero as a tool to control public opinion (Emmert 1996, 13-14). For example,
William Henry Harrison campaigned on his Indian-fighting laurels to gain the presidency
in 1840 (Slotkin 1998, 644). In 1900, “Rough Rider” Theodore Roosevelt was crowned
with the title “cowboy president,”49 despite the fact that he came from a wealthy and
socially prominent family in the East. And Ronald Reagan, identified as a B-Western
cowboy actor, capitalized on his public identity linking him to more heroic Western
movie star like John Wayne (Slotkin 1998, 644).50 The cowboy suggests to Americans
what they have been and what they might yet become (Savage 1979, 38).
It is particularly important for the president to be able to relate to the American
people in order to successfully disseminate his administration’s ideas rapidly and widely
(Fisher 1982, 46). The public wants political leaders who – both in their public persona
47 The cowboy is an integral part of American popular culture as evidenced in the dime novel, nineteenth-century historical romance, the stage melodrama, the Wild West show, the movie, the modern paperback and TV miniseries (Slotkin rev. ed. 1998, 25).
48 Slotkin described how the Reagan presidency used the mythic cowboy in the political arena. “Reagan had a legitimate claim on this kind of heroic aura,” he wrote (Slotkin 1998, 644).
49 When President McKinley was assassinated in 1901, leading Roosevelt to assume his duties, Sen. Mark Hanna of Ohio was led to lament of the colorful Easterner, “Now that damn cowboy is President.” (Straub 2002, Latest ‘Cowboy President’ Shoots from Hip).
50 In the 1984 convention, clips of John Wayne were used to introduce a film celebrating Reagan’s life and achievements in his first term (Slotkin rev. ed. 1998, 644).