Mike Bellah

Bushlore: One More Reason I’m Voting for Him
May 2004

Just two days after 9/11 a well-known pastor asks the leader of the free world why he can remain so calm and peaceful in the midst of all the tragedy. “I’m feeling stronger now than I’ve ever been in my life,” says President Bush. “And the reason is because every person in America is praying for me. When I’m on my knees, that’s when I have power.”

A few weeks later the president is visiting a Washington hospital where he greets Brian Birdwell, an army colonel badly burned in the Pentagon crash. Ignoring the protocol, where officers initiate salutes to their superiors, the president comes to attention at the foot of Birdwell’s bed and salutes the stricken soldier. It takes the colonel 15 to 20 seconds until he manages to lift his injured hand and return the gesture. Yet President Bush never moves, never drops his salute. “He held his salute,” says an astonished and grateful Birdwell, “out of respect for me.”

Over two years later, the president is in Iraq surprising the troops on Thanksgiving Day. A captain stationed in Baghdad describes the response: “Soldiers were hollering, cheering, and a lot of them were crying” but they weren’t the only ones. “When he (the president) stepped up to the cheering, I could clearly see tears running down his cheeks.” The officer goes on to tell how the Commander in Chief shook every hand and greeted every soldier. “You could tell he was really enjoying himself. It wasn’t just a photo opportunity.” 

One month later, President and Mrs. Bush deliver gifts to inner-city children at Shiloh Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. The ever-present press snap pictures of the event and are ushered out after about 10 minutes. The President and First Lady stay long after, visiting individually with each of the 42 children, speaking to the Hispanic ones in Spanish. 

These are just some of the stories I call Bushlore. They are unreported or underreported by the major networks. Yet these accounts, written by amateurs with no hope of a lucrative book deal, are widely and regularly distributed, mostly through email, among hundreds of thousands of Bush supporters. 

Bushlore has become so ubiquitous that it now includes fiction as well as fact. For instance, there is an eRumor that has the president’s personal physician trying to resuscitate a boy who drowned in a lake near the Bush’s ranch. The boy died, and the story goes on to say that the president anonymously paid for the funeral. It is true that six-year old Samuel Kettler drowned in a stock tank near the president’s ranch, and the Secret Service did aid in an attempted rescue. However, according to www.truthorfiction.com, the president’s physician was not involved and the funeral home, not the president, paid for the funeral.

The existence of Bushlore may explain why, despite the memoirs of disgruntled, former administration employees, or the failure to discover a large cache of WMD’s in Iraq, or the embarrassing allegations regarding prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, Bush’s popularity could not be higher with his core group of fans. “A goodness flows through this man,” writes one woman after telling of a small courtesy extended by the president. “He has more than my vote in November. He has my respect.”

In addition to explaining why Bush’s base is not deserting him, the presence of Bushlore makes two strong points: one, this president does his best work in private not public, and, two, his supporters admire his character not his communication skills. The problem, of course, is that while deeds done in private and born of character can win a president a place in history, they may not win him a second term. 

So if you believe in this president and want to see him reelected, spread the Bushlore. Translation: share this column with those who don’t have email. 

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