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Laura Bush

Being the wife to the President of the US, probably the most stressful job in the world, is no easy task.  The task escalates if your husband is George W. Bush, who had received an enormous amount of criticism during his past 4 years as president.  From his war on terror and occupation in Iraq, and seemingly ignorance towards environmental and domestic issues, Bush has not endeared himself to many Americans.  The fact that he is a realistic threat to retain another presidency terms, speaks volumes about the state of American politics and the Democratic Party.  But I digress, focusing on Laura Bush and her life.

Laura Welch was born in Midland, Texas on November 4, 1946.  Her father was a carpenter father and her mother a housewife.  A popular girl, high school saw Laura blossom into an accomplished dancer and chain smoker.  In the fall of 1963, Laura was involved in car accident, running a stop sign and colliding with another vehicle, inflicting a fatal neck fracture on Mike Douglas, a then-serious boyfriend.  It would be a dark time in Laura’s life, although she did attain a Master’s degree in Library Sciences. 

Fifteen years following the accident in 1977, the bookish Laura met Cowboy George at a friend’s party.  Recalling her first impressions of the future Commander in Chief, Laura told the Washington Post in March 2001, I thought he was fun.  I also thought he was really cute.  George is very fun.  He’s also slightly outrageous once in a while in a very funny and fun way and I found that a lot of fun.  Just over five weeks after meeting him, Laura accepted his fun proposal of marriage.  Once a Democrat, Laura had been converted to the Republican faith by marriage.  In 1981, George and Laura Bush became the proud parents of twin girls, who are named Barbara and Jenna after their grandmothers.

George W. Bush at this time began his amazing ascent into politics, first becoming governor of Texas in 1994, and finally President of the US in 2000.  Laura stood behind George, calm, steadfast, and resolute all the whiles. 

Thrust into the spotlight as the First Lady, Laura Bush championed education causes and women’s health issues, and launched the first National Book Festival.  She also worked for women’s and children’s causes.  Laura however, has taken a decidedly less prominent role in policy-making than her predecessors. 

A telling statement could be had during Laura Bush’s interview with Barbara Walters, who asked if she gave her husband any advice during the primary campaigns in 2000.  While acknowledging that talked about some issues, the first lady of Texas said: ’I don’t give him a lot of advice. I really don’t think George wants a lot of advice from me.  This type of passivity and loyalty is honorable perhaps in maintaining a stable 50’s based nuclear family, but it also has drawn much ire from feminists, who have criticized Laura regarding her ability to let George W. get away with foot-in-mouth chauvinist statements.  George W. once told a Texas writer, Laura was the perfect wife for a governor because she refrained from trying to butt in and always, you know, compete.

Many pundits and political analysts have agreed that Laura Bush has made great strides in improving and heightening her public image – becoming more active and vocal in political issues, although to a much lesser extent from preceding First Ladies.  But perhaps that is her greatest strength.