My dad, who died five years ago Wednesday, was a cowboy. A real one, complete with beat-up Stetson and muddy ropers and a Ford pickup and an ancient blanket-lined Levi's jean jacket that smelled of manure, leather, horse sweat, and tobacco -- the distinctive aroma of all cowboys, the one that's rubbed so deep into their sunburned hides that it doesn't come out no matter how long they spend in the shower or how much Old Spice they try to mask it with. Dad's been on my mind a lot this week -- well, Dad, Jefferson, and George W. Bush.
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And when we're finally clear on what a cowboy is and is not, it'll be all too clear to everyone that George Bush is not. He's just a two-bit drugstore shitkicker in a too-big hat, rough in the saddle and mean as a rattler on a hot day to boot. He's a little boy playing dress-up: fighter pilot, baseball player, astronaut, Commander-in-Chief, cowboy. Most people know he's a pathetic wannabee when he's playing the first four roles; but not enough of us understand what a fraud he is when he's wearing that cowboy persona, too.
We all know they way he's lied, swindled, and squandered away our national honor, our last bits of frayed trust in our government, and our Constitution. But most of us don't realize that he's also made off with one of our deepest and best national archetypes as well, single-handedly turning "cowboy" into a bigger epithet of scorn than "dude" ever was. It's past time to stop pissing away the honor of that noble legacy by letting this rube claim it for his own. We need to hunt him down and get it back, just like we need to get the White House and the truth and our self-respect back. Because the day we lose our love for cowboys -- the real kind, like Dad -- is a day we lose something essential to the American character, something we're going to miss desperately as we try to meet and master the next stage of our future.
Go read. This one is too good to miss!