Analyzing Bush based on his favorite painting


The Guardian has a silly article about George Bush's favorite painting, a 1916 cowboy scene by WHD Koerner. The painting hangs in his office, and he tells people that it's a "beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us."

The painting first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1916 "to illustrate a story about a horse thief, and captioned as a picture of his flight from the law. Only later did it illustrate a story about Methodism."

The paper showed the painting to four people: a professor of gender studies, a psychoanalyst, a military historian, and a "psychotherapist and ex-Labour spin doctor," and asked them to analyze the President based on the painting and his story about it.

Derek Draper, psychotherapist and ex-Labour spin doctor: "Most revealing, though, is the simple fact that a healthy mind would look at this image and not be certain what it depicted. Bush, though, as he once told Senator Joe Biden, doesn't "do nuance". Instead he invariably replaces "not-knowing" with prejudiced certainty. A foolish psychological mindset when it comes to art or life; a catastrophic one in politics."

It's interesting that these analysts are taking Bush to task for inventing a story about the painting, instead of having ambiguous feelings about it. As the article states, it has been used at least twice to illustrate two very different stories. What's wrong with coming up with your own interpretation of what a painting means? This is probably the first time in my life that I'm on the President's side. (Also, it's a wonderful painting.) Go, Bush!
Link (Thanks, Jane!)