Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Cost of 935 Lies

Scott Horton:
Surely no more than 110,000 people killed, 300,000 casualties and $2.5 trillion in direct costs and likely long-term debt incurred. A pittance. Of course, it will mean a recession—probably a very nasty one. But look at the wonderful things the Bush Administration has achieved? When Clinton left office, gasoline was $1.39/gallon, and today it’s more than doubled, to $3.10, as oil company profits skyrocket. Clinton reduced the national deficit by running up $431 billion in surpluses in his last three years. Bush has run up the deficit by $734 billion in his last three years, and the national debt has swollen under his presidency by $3.5 trillion (it’s much more than that when we tally up the indirect costs incurred, by the way, such as healthcare for the returning veterans. . . but then the Bush Team isn’t so wild about furnishing them with healthcare, as we see from the developments out at Walter Reed). But why should we worry? That will all be left for future generations to cope with, just like the consequences of his misadventures in warfare. Under President Bush the median income in the United States fell by roughly 2%, while the allocation of the nation’s wealth shifted much more dramatically: the poor got much poorer, while the wealthiest 1% of the population got exponentially richer. (Call them the base.) When Clinton left office, the United States was admired and respected by nations around the world, and particularly by our key allies. And after seven years of Bush, the United States is loathed by most of the world and viewed with closely guarded suspicion in the alliances that three generations of Americans sacrificed to forge. This is quite a tally. And it shows the only a part of the costs associated with those 935 lies.
Further, even Bush's "a charge to keep" painting hanging in the Oval Office has a story that doesn't fit with the Leader's fantasy. While Bush says,
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.
The story behind the painting is really this:
...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.”
W.H.D. Koerner, “A Charge to Keep” (1916)


jenhargis said...

Please don't let's pretend that the world hasn't hated the US for decades. I'm certain that I could bring up documented proof that the United States has been the subject of ridicule for almost, if not all of, my entire life (and I'm 39 1/2).

Bruce said...

Actually, Jacob Weisberg's account, covered by Scott Horton at Harpers, is the fourth story written about Bush and his "A Charge To Keep" painting that I am aware of.

Sidney Blumenthal did a version in April 2007, for, entitled From Norman Rockwell to Abu Ghraib

An earlier extended, 3450 word story about Bush and the painting was Horseshit! Bush and the Christian Cowboy, by Jonathan Hutson, published May 12, 2006, at Talk To Action.

But credit for unearthing the actual details of the painting's origin appears to belong to Michael Horner, writing "The Roundup" for Milwaukee World, in a February 23, 2004, piece entitled GEORGE W. BUSH, ART CRITIC. Horner concluded the piece with:

"Leave it to Bush to endow a cowboy painting with religious significance that it may have lacked in its original context.
The painting was by W.H.D. Koerner (1878-1938), a Texas born painter who began his career at 15 doing illustrations for the Chicago Tribune.

The painting’s origin was about as secular and commercial as you can imagine. It was commissioned by the Saturday Evening Post in 1916 to illustrate a fiction piece entitled “The Slipper Tongue.” The same magazine reused it the next year for a story called “Ways that are Dark.”

It appeared one final time as a magazine illustration in 1918, appearing under the title “A Charge to Keep.” That time it accompanied a story by the same name by Ben Ames Williams, but not in the Saturday Evening Post. Nope, pardner. The story that time appeared in Country Gentleman."