The world's current image of George Bush was molded much by Utahn Steve Studdert, who has also carefully planned the images the world will see of Bush this weekat the inauguration.
Studdert, a former Bountiful City councilman and Brigham City police chief, is the executive director of Bush's inaugural committee. He was also named last week to become an assistant to the president to continue to handle his image, which he also did during the latter part of Bush's campaign.In retrospect, Studdert and the rest of Bush's team of image makers pulled off a miracle in changing how people perceive the president-elect - one that continues to become more impressive with time.
Early in the campaign, images of Bush included a man many called a "wimp." There were images of an upper-class Bush pictured sailing on a yacht. There were images of a man some called President Reagan's lap dog - a man who seemingly never expressed an opinion of his own.
Look at how Bush's image has changed, thanks to careful planning, advertising, speech-making, and personal appearances coordinated by Studdert.
The images of Bush now suggest someone with compassion for the common man, a courageous leader, a man of faith, and a down-to-earth man who is a loving father and husband.
Some of the images fed to the media to foster that perception include Bush pitching horseshoes, instead of sailing on a yacht. They include pictures of him at backyard barbecues eating hamburgers and chili with his grandchildren, instead of sitting at formal banquets.
They include him talking about living "in a little shotgun house" in Texas when he worked in the oil fields, instead of talking about his days in the Ivy League at Yale.
They include him talking about how he plans to attend church every week while in office. They include Barbara Bush admitting that she wears necklaces to hide wrinkles on her neck. They include talk about his days as the youngest fighter pilot in the Navy. They include pictures of him with world leaders such as Mikhail Gorbachev. They include him calling for a "kinder, gentler nation."
In short, images of Bush since the late campaign have shown him as someone who cares about the same things as most Americans, rather than someone of the high upper class that many Americans may not understand or relate to well.
Studdert insists those images portray the real George Bush. They will continue this week during the inauguration.
"For example, when Bush is sworn in, he will be wearing a business suit. That's in contrast to Kennedy, who wore tails and a top hat, and Reagan, who wore a morning coat (a type of tuxedo)," Studdert recently told the Deseret News.
"You may not pay attention to what he wears, but you see it and it conveys a message. Also, the American press may not pay much attention to it, but I guarantee the European press will give detailed reports about what he wears. It's worrying about details like that - and hoping that I haven't missed any - that keeps me up at night," he said.
Other inaugural images will include Bush paying special tribute to survivors of his old fighter pilot squadron, and to surviving members of the submarine that fished Bush out of the Pacific when he was shot down during World War II. The inaugural committee is paying to bring them to the swearing-in.
They will include for the first time in 80 years, a reception at the White House for the general public.
They will include having the inaugural committee paying to bring thousands of teachers and students from every state to participate in forums and special inaugural events to learn more about patriotism, and to spread their knowledge back home.
"A kinder, gentler nation isn't just a catchy phrase written by some speech writer. George Bush believes in it sincerely," Studdert says.
And as long as Studdert is in charge of trying to mold the public's perception of Bush - which should be for some time - the idea of Bush's kinder, gentler nation will be continually reinforced.