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July 28, 2008

History of Boots and Bears

Tr_bear Amidst the conundrums of our current presidential campaign, Project President is a book by columnist Ben Shapiro which should tickle your funny bone. Boots and bears, it seems, are the real things that can make or break a candidacy. 

Image sells. For instance, in the early 19th century, if a candidate liked to play tennis, he would have had to make certain that information was not for public consumption during the campaign. It was William Howard Taft who wrote, "Photographs on horseback, yes, tennis, no, and golf is fatal." The public would have branded a tennis/golf playing presidential hopeful as an elitist. 

Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt's image got a huge boost when he decided not to shoot a bear--a bear someone else caught and tied to a tree for him to kill. A seemingly unimportant event turned out to be of import because of who was there to see the event. Shapiro writes,

"Cartoonist [Clifford K.] Berryman...parlayed TR's sportsmanlike refusal to shoot the bear into some of the most important presidential imagery in American history. His cartoon depicted Roosevelt virtuously sparing the life of a black bear that had been tied around the neck by a white hunter--the cartoon was an attempt to analogize TR's mercy toward the bear to TR's protection of Southern African Americans against white oppression." 

The bear, seen above, became TR's or "Teddy's" symbol of virtue. Amazing what a bear can do!

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Comments

Steve (SBK)

Small ?: Did you mean "early 20th century"?

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