“Such frank boobery would seem to represent a culmination of the long, strange history of anti-intellectualism in America,” wrote Mark Crispin Miller, who was moved to write a whole book on the subject of Bush 43’s syntax and diction. “Certainly George W. Bush has always postured as a good ole boy, who don’t go in fer usin’ them five-dollar words like ‘snippy’ and ‘insurance.’ ” In Miller’s view, Bush was a step down from presidents such as Franklin Pierce, who was “fluent in Greek and Latin, like so many of his peers.” Yes, the heady days of antebellum America—black people were held as slaves, women couldn’t vote, and the American buffalo was on the verge of extinction, but at least the affluent white men of America’s political elite spoke Greek so that we didn’t have to be so ashamed of our boobery.
Complicating matters is that Texans themselves seem to go out of their way to offend everyone as much as possible—and if anyone gets upset, they act like it’s the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. Remember that one about secession?
The short answer to what happened is known in band lore as the Incident. In March 2003, on the brink of the Iraq war, Natalie told a London audience that the Chicks were ashamed that George W. Bush was from Texas. Prior to that moment, they looked like surefire enshrinees to the Country Music Hall of Fame, poised, perhaps, to become the biggest act in the genre’s history. In barely five years, their first three records had sold 28 million copies. Their then-current album, Home, had sold 6 million in six months. But in the ten years since Natalie spoke those words, none of those records has sold even one million more copies, and the Dixie Chicks as an entity scarcely exists. How could an impromptu bit of between-song banter cause so much damage? And why did millions of fans never forgive them?
The fact is, none of it was nearly that simple.
Just kidding: the exchange is over on Jason's site. My thanks again to Jason for reading the book and suggesting the Q&A. And as I said there, if you have any questions about Texas, or the book, feel free to email me through the home page of this site; I'll try to answer.