The word “cowboy” doesn’t deserve the derogatory treatment it’s received in recent years, Elmer Kelton writes in Texas Monthly. With critics labeling President Bush’s foreign policy “cowboy diplomacy,” the term that was once a sign of respect is now used to evoke a "shoot-from-the hip" individual who makes reckless decisions—the opposite of working cowboys like Kelton’s father, he writes.
Kelton says most cowboys he has known “would go out of their way to avoid a confrontation” and rarely used their guns. “Pundits and politicians who recklessly malign" real cowboys "show their ignorance of the reality,” he writes. “Cowboy capitalism? The average cowboy won’t save up a fraction as much money in his lifetime as the average Washington lawmaker wastes on self-serving earmarks.”