A friend of mine just forwarded a link to this here piece from Harper's Magazine:
The Illustrated President
The commentary deals with President George W. Bush's identification with a painting titled "A Charge to Keep", which GWB used as the title of his autobiography. That's the inspiring painting you see at the top of this post. You'll note that the rider in the foreground bears a resemblance to the current POTUS.
From Bush's book:
"I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves."
Bush sees the rider in the painting, with whom he identifies, as a Christian missionary struggling determinedly against adversity.
Well, it turns out that the painting was commissioned for a western short story in the Saturday Evening Post in 1916, and it depicts not a Christian missionary but an escaping horse thief:
"...So Bush’s inspiring, prosyletizing Methodist is in fact a silver-tongued horse thief fleeing from a lynch mob. It seems a fitting marker for the Bush presidency. Bush has consistently exhibited what psychologists call the “Tolstoy syndrome.” That is, he is completely convinced he knows what things are, so he shuts down all avenues of inquiry about them and disregards the information that is offered to him. This is the hallmark of a tragically bad executive. But in this case, it couldn’t be more precious. The president of the United States has identified closely with a man he sees as a mythic, heroic figure. But in fact he’s a wily criminal one step out in front of justice. It perfectly reflects Bush the man. . . and Bush the president."
And there you have it.