Women's History Month 2004

Sold American:
Cowboy Nation
Gets Ready to Vote

If tragedy is

the name we use for a drama in which the
protagonist falls on his own character, then tragic

the shape of public opinion in America.

Headlines Monday claimed that three-

fourths of
Americans already have their minds made up about
presidential candidates, but the poll

suggests more
than that. On the issue of who we are, the poll
reveals that Americans have had

their minds made up
for many, many years. Taking up the question of sincerity, for instance,

majority of Americans tell pollsters that Bush says
what he believes (51 percent), but an even

majority report that Bush exaggerated to build support
for war on Iraq (59 percent). So

what are Americans
saying about Bush? That he believes his


Again, on the sincerity question, a majority (57

believe that Kerry does not say what he
thinks, yet American voters rate Kerry higher than

for caring about us, for being able to deal with
economic decisions, make sure social security

solvent, and increase jobs. What do Americans think
about Kerry? That he does not believe in

his own

On the fundamental question of sincerity,

Americans have nothing new to say. As a nation, we
prefer sincere liars to insecure

competents. Look for
a Reagan-Carter repeat. Or, for that matter,
Reagan-Dukakis, Clinton-Dole,

Nixon-McGovern. When it
comes to the question of sincerity, America loves a
salesman best.

And where do we find the qualities of a great
salesman? Not in the product, but in

the pitch.

And what is Bush pitching these days? That we are a
culture at war. More

important than care, economy,
social security, or jobs, is our ability to conserve
our way of

life against subversive forces. It’s an
exaggeration, as we fully know. But it’s

exaggeration that creates purpose.

Meanwhile, a mid-week editorial from the

Boston Globe
reminds us what Bush is selling to the rest of the
world. Scan the headlines coming

out of Santiago,
Chile during Women’s History Month. Bush
Administration Opposes 40 Latin

American Nations.
Countries of the Americas, Except US, Reaffirm
Reproductive Health Accord. US

Lone No at Chile
Meeting .

“The United States was the only country to

with a declaration linking poverty eradication to
greater access to services for family

planning, safe
motherhood and HIV/AIDS prevention,” reports the
United Nations.


simple Google search for “Bush opposes treaty”
yields the following: Bush opposes ratifying

test ban treaty; Bush Administration Opposes UN
Children’s Treaty; Bush Tries to Weaken

Treaty; US Abandons Environment Treaty; Bush Opposes
Kyoto Global Warming Treaty. That’s

page one.

Our embattled way of life is indeed at war with the
world. Bush is right

about that. But he is only our
most recent cowboy-in-chief, pushing the frontiers,
shredding the

treaties, and sending in the cavalry to
secure the outposts.

So, of course, Americans

feel more comfortable with
Bush than Kerry when it comes to handling an
international crisis and

protecting the country from a
terrorist attack.

On three questions Bush tops the

charts absolutely.
Seventy five percent believe Bush has a vision for the
country. Seventy

eight percent believe that we would
have a good economy today were it not for the
disruption of

the massacre of Sept. 11.

And 75 percent of Americans believe Bush shares the

values most Americans try to live by.

So the poll numbers demonstrate that Kerry and

are placeholders in a cowboy nation that is nearly 80
percent unified.


bring on your Nader, if you will. Or point out
that America is isolating itself in the eyes

others. What we have here is a mature culture acting
out its character in ways that are as

predictable as
they are tragic.

If the poll numbers hold up, whoever wins in

will be the top cowboy candidate. In this drama of
Cowboy Nation, is there an

alternative ending at hand?

Greg Moses


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