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Here’s why I’d go to a tea party with Laura Bush, now an author

April 29, 2010

Dontcha hate it when a public figure comports herself with dignity, decency and restraint? That’s why it’s so much harder to make fun of former First Lady Laura Bush than it is her husband, George W. Sadly, early reports indicate little in her memoir, Spoken from the Heart, will change that.

In fact, the most embarrassing thing revealed by The New York Times and Politico.com seems to be that Laura’s pet name for George is “Bushie.” And the craziest thing in the book is her suspicion that the presidential party may have been “poisoned” at the 2007 G-8 Summit in Germany, where the president, first lady and “nearly a dozen members of our delegation were stricken.”

While poisoning is not impossible, it seems highly unlikely– after all, life is not 24, no matter how much right wingers might wish it so.

Otherwise, though, Laura Bush–always the most private of first ladies –seems to write with winning frankness and the poise she unfailingly displayed in the White House.

For example, she describes in “vivid detail” the accident in which she killed a classmate when she ran a stop light at age 17.  Bush confesses that after the boy in the other car died, despite her fervent prayers, she lost her faith in God “for many, many years.”

As the wife of a politician, Bush comes across as a woman of principle who supported and defended her husband, but had her own ideas.

At the outset of the 2004 campaign, Bush writes, she asked the president not to make an issue of gay marriage. “We have, I reminded him, a number of close friends who are gay or whose children are gay.”

That’s certainly admirable — but she goes on to say that the president’s opponents used the issue against him, dragging Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of VP Dick Cheny, through the mud.

This set a precedent, Bush argues, that opened the families of candidates and political figures to public mockery. “David Letterman feels free to ridicule Sarah Palin’s teenager daughters, and the audience laughs.”

All due respect, ma’am, that’s not what happened. As the Los Angeles Times notes,  Karl Rove, Bush’s chief strategist, acknowledges in his own recent memoir, Courage and Consequences, that he used gay marriage “to good effect” in the 2004 campaign.

And hateful derision of public figures and their families did not originate in 2004, and it did not originate with liberals or Democrats. Mediamatters.org reminds that early in the Clinton presidency, Rush Limbaugh displayed a picture of Socks, the White House cat, on his TV show. Then he said, “Did you know there’s a White House dog?” And a picture of Chelsea Clinton, then 13, appeared on the screen.

In defense of Laura Bush, it would be too much to expect her to be nonpartisan, or to refrain from defending her husband’s character and performance. She angrily cites Nancy Pelosi for calling the president “an incompetent leader,” and Harry Reid for saying her husband is “a loser and a liar.”

But from where I sit, it appears that Laura Bush shows it is still possible for a public figure to hold firm views with dignity, which makes it possible to hold a conversation with those who believe otherwise. Spoken From the Heart goes n sale next Tuesday. If these early reports are reliable, then Bush will give readers their money’s worth.

Of course, I have not seen the entire 464 page book, which could conceivably reveal a mean streak. But I’d be very surprised if it did.

What do you think? Is Laura Bush the best thing (maybe the only redeeming thing) about the Bush administration?

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2010 1:31 pm

    I am sorry, but I can’t help but hate her by association. No way am I picking up that book. But I do commend her for taking a high road of sorts.

  2. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    April 29, 2010 1:33 pm

    I always did admire her, there in the background, if only grudgingly. Besides, remember: She’s a librarian by trade. How bad could she be?

  3. rachel permalink
    April 29, 2010 1:52 pm

    Well if it is spoken from the heart, then how can we be upset about anything she says?

    I agree with Alexis. I despise this woman by association. And look at that look on her face! And I bet there are bad librarians, the censoring, book burning advocate kind. I will not read this book. And I’m sorry, but there is nothing redeeming about the Bush administration. But I’m glad to hear that she is not as wretched as her husband.

  4. Candice Simmons permalink
    April 29, 2010 2:16 pm

    She was private because she had so much to hide, like her husband and children’s alochol problems. I would never use the words poise and dignity for her. She always looked to me like she was spaced out on Prozac and things much stronger. Which I am sure she really needed to be married to that fraud. And have those horrible chilren.

    Sorry, Chanuncey Mabe, I am unconvinced. Some people call Sarah Palin a “librarian type” as well. I think they are both stupid women. I would not read this book if someone paid me too.

    • April 29, 2010 2:24 pm

      i think she’s a stepford wife

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 29, 2010 4:04 pm

      Wow. I’ve tapped into a deep well of liberal bile and resentment, I see.

      Which I can understand. What I can’t understand is where all this hostility toward librarians is coming from.

      Librarians are our friends. Trust me.

  5. Candice Simmons permalink
    April 29, 2010 2:17 pm

    P.S. And librarians can be really really bad. Remember Ms. Von P??????????????????????????

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 29, 2010 4:06 pm

      Ms. Von P. was the exception to the rule. I mean, if you looked like a rhinoceros in a dress, as she did, you might be in a bad mood most of the time, too. Still, all this anger and judgmentalism is very unliberal from you people.

  6. Chauncey Mabe permalink*
    April 29, 2010 2:18 pm

    Oh, my God: This is a tough crowd! Well, you’re entitled to your opinion. But let me say in defense of librarians, they are much, much, MUCH more likely to be defenders of free expression and our right to access information without barriers or monitoring than otherwise. Maybe I’ll blog in honor of librarians some day soon. Librarians and bookstores — that’s where the First Amendment rubber really hits the road.

    • rachel permalink
      April 29, 2010 2:23 pm

      You blogged about Laura Bush and you want us to be nice and tame?

      • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
        April 29, 2010 4:07 pm

        I want you to express your deepest feelings, as long as they aren’t racist and don’t incite people to riot.

  7. Sean permalink
    April 29, 2010 2:31 pm

    She was pretty good at the WHCD in 2005. Check it out! (More Dubya video, I know, but still)

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 29, 2010 4:09 pm

      Thanks, Sean. Please keep offering these video thingies. The one the other day completely altered my view of George Bush. Not that I like him any more than before, but I have a mustard seed of compassion now that I’m convinced he’s suffering presenile dementia.

  8. April 29, 2010 2:45 pm

    I always am a bit soft on all first ladies. They kind of got to go along with what is gong along. I liked Laura, but she does stand for the same things these wacky neeeies are about. I also know much in the book is not accurate history. So I give her some respect. NOW MOVE ON. Save a child or something will you. Give Chauncey a kiss and be gone. Pretend you are still a librarian.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 29, 2010 4:10 pm

      More snide librarian remarks! People! Listen up! Librarians are our friends and allies. Damn! I am going to have to write a blog on that subject.

  9. Dee Bishoff permalink
    April 29, 2010 3:03 pm

    Chauncey, I agree with you wholeheartedsly!! I have always admired Laura Bush for all of the reasons you mentioned. I don’t think I have ever hated anyone by association, don’t quite get that one, but I do hate George Bush.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 29, 2010 4:11 pm

      Thanks, Dee. It’s nice to get a kind word out of this crowd. Sheesh. I was starting to look for the exit…

  10. Candice Simmons permalink
    April 29, 2010 3:24 pm

    I still don’t understand the poise and dignity ya’ll talk about…. she was just a dipshit in denial….

    I prefer Hilary Clinton–intelligence, openness, but still tried to protect her only child from the public eye. And I liked her book.

    Or Michelle Obama or Jackie O…..

    • Dee Bishoff permalink
      April 29, 2010 3:59 pm

      I agree, Candice, I admire those women greatly also, granted Laura is nowhere near as intelligent as Hilary but I do believe she has always conducted herself with poise and diginity. (That’s not easy with George Bush as her husband). She should get a lot of points for that!!

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 29, 2010 4:13 pm

      Openness? Hillary? What are you talking about? She told more lies in her campaign than can be numbered with an abacus. Not that I’m a hater. I would have gladly voted for Hillary had Obama not arisen when he did. But she is no paragon of openness and honesty. She’s a politician, for pete’s sake!

  11. John Karwacki permalink
    April 29, 2010 10:21 pm

    I do not agree with the opinion that Laura is somehow blameless because she has poise. We all are affected by the company we keep. Hillary had less poise but bigger cahones and she told her own truth more times than most modern era first ladies whether you agree with that truth or call it delusion. Barbara Bush kept her husband’s secrets, he headed the freakin’ CIA pre presidency. Nancy Reagan told us to say no to drugs while swilling gin and valium. I have nothing on Roselyn or Betty, though I’m a fan of Betty’s honesty on addiction. Pat Nixon, puleeeeze. Lady Bird, well at least she planted wildflowers. Jackie, looked the other way too, how many dresses were stained in JFK’s oval office? I’ll stop at Mamie, army wife, say no more. Truth be told, if you take the gig (First Lady) your options are limited by the reality of modern politics, so I appreciate you wanting to cut Laura slack, even if I choose not to. Peace and love, people – let’s figure out how to clean up the gulf before I have no conch and shrimp to eat.

    • Chauncey Mabe permalink*
      April 30, 2010 1:53 am

      I’m not saying Laura is blameless — who is? Let that person cast the first stone, right? — but only that she has comported herself with dignity and restraint. Like the rest of you liberal rabble, I don’t know how she could stay with a husband I perceive as a danger to the world. But heck, lots of wives stay with awful husbands — and who’s to say why? In her fictional account of Laura’s life, American Wife, the novelist Curtis Sittenfeld suggests it’s partly because the presidential husband is good in bed (now there’s a thought, innit?!).

      As for cleaning up the gulf, I do believe it is Obama who wants to open up our coastal waters to oil drilling. What happened to the capital “L” liberal I voted for?

  12. April 30, 2010 3:19 pm

    This place has sure gone crazy.

  13. Marcia permalink
    May 17, 2010 8:33 pm

    ” Mediamatters.org reminds that early in the Clinton presidency, Rush Limbaugh displayed a picture of Socks, the White House cat, on his TV show. Then he said, “Did you know there’s a White House dog?” And a picture of Chelsea Clinton, then 13, appeared on the screen.”

    This incident didnt happen. This is an old urban legend about Limbaugh. No transcript or video exists of that happening. (and videos of all his tv shows do exist as they sold copies of each and every episode after each show)

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