The image: an elderly man in jeans, a starched shirt and cowboy boots rides a horse across the bleached Nevada landscape; he holds a pole like a Roman spear, upright in salute, and from it a large flag flutters the American standard, the Stars and Bars.
It is an image that captured cable news and had pundits weighing in on government over-reach, the greed of the Obama administration as a whole and the cowardice of its impotent apparatus, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). That image seemed to simultaneously exonerate the values the righteous right stood for while underlining the dire warnings that those same values were under constant assault. It was the epitome of the beleaguered common man, fed up with the Federal government’s intrusion on his right to live by his own moral code – one that was, of course, built on a Christian foundation (also under assault). Finally, it stood as a shining example of the rugged individualism long touted by those “bootstrap” Republicans: there, on the screen, a living example of the durable pragmatism of the cowboy and a simpler, more honest time.
Except of course it wasn’t. (Read more…)