Scenes from the Bush Cargo Cult
Dopiate for the masses:
These supporters are mostly clustered in places like Utah, Idaho and Wyoming, the only three states where Mr. Bush’s job approval rating is at or above 50 percent, and in smaller pockets in areas like the suburbs of Birmingham, Ala.; northwest Georgia; and the Florida Panhandle.
“I’m against the war in Iraq â€” and what happened with Hurricane Katrina, well, it was a failure by everybody,” said Ron Craft, a sales manager in Provo who said he was a devout Mormon and a strong conservative who considered himself independent politically. “I tend to judge a person by their character. And President Bush reminds me of President Reagan. He’s a man of principle.”
All of the administration’s perceived failures, including the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina and the budget deficit, go through a different filter in these Bush strongholds. Sounding a familiar theme, Mr. Craft said he was distrustful of news media portrayals of Mr. Bush because “they concentrate too much on the negative and certain small things.”
The redemptive narrative that Mr. Bush has often told about his life â€” a frequent drinker who found God and his political purpose in early middle-age â€” has greater resonance here than in other parts of the country. And people say they are willing to overlook major problems, or not blame Mr. Bush for trouble spots, because they like his personality.
“He’s strong, and he doesn’t waver,” said Jaren Olsen, 18, a freshman at Brigham Young, the nation’s largest religiously affiliated private university, who is from Albany. “I like that he is for the family, that marriage should only be between a man and woman. And the war, we need to finish what we started.”
Another student at Brigham Young, Danielle Pulsipher, a junior, offered blanket approval of the president. Asked to name which of his actions as president she liked most, she was hard-pressed to answer.
“I’m not sure of anything he’s done, but I like that he’s religious â€” that’s really important,” Ms. Pulsipher said.