1.18.2008

George W. Bush's favorite painting

George Bush's favorite painting, Slate reports, is W.H.D. Koerner's A Charge to Keep, and he identifies with the lead horseman (whom he says he resembles). In his autobiography he wrote:
I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.
But as Jacob Weisberg writes in his new book The Bush Tragedy, the president is reading more into the work than is really there:
He came to believe that the picture depicted the circuit-riders who spread Methodism across the Alleghenies in the nineteenth century. In other words, the cowboy who looked like Bush was a missionary of his own denomination.

Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled "The Slipper Tongue," published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught."

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17 comments:

Spartacus said...

So this means he's going to be caught too, right?

Spartacus said...

Kinda' looks a little like Bush in the face too. He's fleeing pell-mell from some angry citizens or constituents. And gets caught..haha. (oh please, Lord, let it be so)

Xenos said...

That horse is not transporting a missionary up a hillside - that horse is at a full gallop over rough, treacherous ground. That rider is reckless, and is likely to kill that horse.

Patriot's Quill said...

I'm sure Bush was too busy reading Camus' L'etranger to get around to "The slipper tongue."

riffle said...

So he picks a favorite painting, in part, because the central character bears a physical resemblance to him?

It really is all about George W. Bush to him, isn't it?

steve dubya said...

Yes, this means he'll "get caught", by history at least. Only question now is whether he also gets caught by The Hague.

Guy Roi said...

I'm just curious as to the presentation of the sand hils of nebraska, it's not the sand hills i remember

Anonymous said...

A horse thief risking the safety and survival of the horse he's riding... FINALLY the man exhibits some insight and self-awareness!

Hi-yo, Dubya!

Punditish said...

I'm sure it's great fun to tear into Bush for his interpretation of the painting, but all good art invokes varying theories from person to person. If he fiercely believes that his interpretation MUST be what the painter had in question, then yeah, that's silly. But if he's simply describing what it conveyed to him when he saw it, there's nothing the least bit wrong with that.

And it does look like him, for what it's worth.

DKB said...

It is, however, indicative of his approach to everything. "To hell with any interpretation but my own!" And it's poetic justice that it's a "low-down horse thief" he identifies with. So far from his image of himself, so much closer to reality.

Robert Holmgren said...

Thanks for informing us that paintings are not allowed to have more meanings that those assigned by the artist. George Bush certainly overstepped his authority in creating a personal association. Thank goodness for writers such as Mr. Weisberg for his knowledge of how art works.

Dale said...

I suspect Bush is also drawn to the lack of armor plating protecting both horse and rider.

But more than that, I would expect an accomplished chickenhawk such as Bush to gravitate to exactly this sort of image, featuring a subject who reminds Bush of a version of himself who doesn't just dress but actually acts the heroic part.

Dr. J said...

I'm really having a hard time believing that that is any part of Nebraska. I don't care about Bush either way but this appears like somebody who is very educated attempting to start an Urban Legend. Here is a good pic of the Sand Hills: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Sand_Hills_Nebraska.jpg

Anonymous said...

You know when you find out that a painting or poem you like means something antithetical and you feel somewhat saddened? I wonder if Bush feels that way, or if in his bizarre, skull and bones, predestined mentality he is really depressed that God is telling him he is nothing more than a common horse thief.

Anonymous said...

Bush hates horses, I heard. Doesn't mean he can't identify with the image though, esp if it looks like him, which it does kind of.
The territory looks like around my location in the Okanogan Highlands of Washington State, high coniferous forest with a lot of up and down, but if the artist says that's what it is, then who'm I to tell?
Fitting though that it's really the horse thief/mass murderer running from justice...

Chriss said...

It is rather illustrative of Bush' incuriousness that "his favorite painting" has never warranted any inquiry on his part as to its back story.

He lies so damn much that I doubt it is even his favorite. Just more filler for his ghost writer.

Nathan Swanson Gnade said...

I have no problem with Bush's interpretation with the painting. If i had not know the story behind this beforehand i might not have thought it was about a thief fleeing justice. it is Bush's right to be entitled to his own opinion on the subject matter of the painting. You all have yours and he can have his. Do you not like certain works of art becuase you can relate to it?

That doesnt make him a good president though. haha!