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II. The Common Man

Additionally, cowboy ethics also serve another purpose for the Bush Doctrine. It

can first of all act as a means for communicating Bush’s foreign policy decisions to the

public (Slotkin 1998, 644). The cowboy offers Bush a tactical tool to articulate to a

diverse population his message in a plainspoken way and its widespread acceptance

(Florig, The Power of Presidential Ideologies52). For much of the public, cowboy ethic

has broader appeal than rhetoric explaining complex strategies and dry statistics.53 That

is, the cowboy can simplify the complexities of communicating policy issues and

explaining multifaceted policy decisions (Emmert 1996, 14).

Utilizing cowboy ethics, Bush additionally takes on the image of the trustworthy

“common man,” a “man of the people” whom Americans see their image and spirit in

(Waterman et. al 1999, 24-31). The president’s use of the vernacular and the simplicity

involved in how he talks and sees the world, are elements that promote the Bush

Doctrine.54 As the cowboy is ascribed with unsubtlety and moral simplicity (Mills 2003,

4), he is also valued for being a “straight shooter” (Gatchel 2001, 6C).55 In a similar way,

variable that is impacted by national character, the primary variable.

52 In 1992 Dennis Florig published The Power of Presidential Ideologies, a study of presidential administrations, their ideas, and their policies, covering presidents from Franklin Roosevelt through the first George Bush. Florig has updated the original version of his book online with new text, graphics and links. No copyright date, however, was found in Florig’s online version.

53 I bring to attention “Reaganomics.” By borrowing from the cowboy story, Ronald Reagan described how a magical growth of American wealth, power and virtue would derive from the close linkage of his “bonanza economics” (Slotkin 1998, 645).

54 For example, Bush has said that Saddam Hussein “crawfished” to escape U.N. sanctions, and that America would “smoke” Taliban operatives “out of their caves” (quoted in Milibank and Loeb 2003, A01).

55 Straight shooters adhere to such old-fashioned concepts as keeping their word and doing what they believe to be right regardless of the consequences (Gatchel 2001, 6C). “I think the fact of the matter is that he cuts to the chase […] Oftentimes, you can get so tangled up in nuances and the


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