In the President’s favorite movie, the righteous hero stands alone and guns down the bad guys. Bush has played Gary Cooper in the showdowns over Iraq, and now he is facing down the villains in the S-CHIP fight.
But Bush has modeled himself on the wrong 1950s western. True to Washington and Hollywood, “High Noon” is more about pride and calculation than humanity. Those who care about people rather than power have always preferred “Shane.”
At the end of “High Noon,” the hero, after gunning down the bad guys, converting his Quaker wife to killing and showing his contempt for everyone else, rides off with Grace Kelly to some Olympus denied other mortals, all as a reward for his concept of manhood.
In “Shane,” a retired gunfighter reluctantly takes up arms again to protect a family he loves and their hard-working community against ruthless power. His reward is to ride off to die, alone.
That’s a concept that the man who the former President of Mexico calls a “windshield cowboy” fails to understand. (In his memoirs, Vincente Fox recounts Bush’s skittishness about getting on a horse, preferring to drive a pickup truck instead.)
This time Bush is playing cowboy with the health and lives of millions of children. Senate Democrats are trying to round up enough Republicans to override his veto in tomorrow’s vote, but the First Moviegoer is sticking to his guns.
It may be too late to stop Bush’s acting out of old oaters, but those who have to belly up to the ballot box next year should think hard about the consequences of the shootout.