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