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The calm-spirited Laura Bush

Does Laura Bush ever raise her voice?

Looking for hints of it in her new book, “Spoken from the Heart,” is a pretty futile undertaking. It seems strange that for a woman who was in the center of one of the most acrimonious – and disputed -- elections in history, rode through eight years of intense partisanship, was herself treated roughly by the media and, by the way, had a husband who early in her marriage regularly knocked back a few too many bourbons, beers and B&Bs – for all that, Laura Bush still seems hardly able to muster anything more than an aghast gee-whiz at egregious misconduct or a wrong done her or her husband .

During a 2004 presidential debate, John Kerry answered a question about gay marriage by wheeling in a reference to Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary. In her book due out next week and which The Washington Post acquired from a book store, Laura Bush writes about the reactions of everyone around her – her daughters gasped, Lynne Cheney was furious. Laura’s outburst over the matter? “Lynne called it ‘cheap and tawdry,’ and it was.”

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attacked her husband as an “incompetent leader” and a person with “no judgment, no experience and no knowledge of the subjects that he has decided upon,” Laura Bush was, well, upset. After also noting Sen. Harry Reid’s characterization of the president as a “loser” and a “liar,” Laura summed up her own reaction this way: “Of course, I hated hearing all those terrible things said about my husband.”

Laura, please, throw something.

When George W. Bush was made the whipping boy of the 2008 campaign, Laura Bush took note. She wished that Barack Obama understood that it wasn’t right to criticize a man in the Oval Office who faces the world’s tragedies and challenges every day. “It got so that even the weather seemed to be George’s fault,” she writes, deftly controlling what must have been her own thunderclap of rage.

Anyone who has witnessed the turmoil of an alcoholic’s home will wonder, Where was the molten ire over George’s struggle with drink? She writes that people thought it was funny when someone else’s husband had too much to drink, “But I didn’t think it was funny when mine did. And I told him so. … I let him know that I thought he could be a better man.”

And he did become a much better man – he grew up to be president.

By Steven E. Levingston  |  April 28, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
 | Tags: first lady's memoir, laura bush's memoir, speaking from the heart  
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I don't know about the 'grow up' or 'better man' part, but he did become president.

I wonder how history might've turned out differently if this once-spirited young girl hadn't run a stop sign that killed another child and sunk her into a deep depression that has perhaps, even to this day, left her a catatonic shell of a person, as her Stepford image, and now this book, suggests. It left her an unmarried librarian when she met G.W. some years later, and a docile, obedient prospect. The only evidence of what is left of her humanity is her chain-smoking, a hint that all is not what it seems.

Posted by: inclover | April 28, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I loathed GWB, but I had some respect for Laura. True, not a flashy First Lady. But she had class.

Posted by: Hillman1 | April 29, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Amazing. Even now, the Washington Post and it's commentors can't recognize civility when they read it. "throw something"? from the article and her only humanity is "chain smoking" from a commentor. Amazing. Having manners is a vice in today's world.

Posted by: mil1 | April 29, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Here is a thought...maybe that is just who she is. One of those people who cannot hear anything bad or say it. My mother-in-law is like that. And I think there are plenty of people out there like that.
First Lady Laura Bush has always appear to me to be a lovely lady full of class and good will.

Posted by: huntyrella | April 29, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Catatonic depression will do that to a person.....

Posted by: gmcduluth | April 29, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

George "W"'s whole life was an example of an incompetent loser, bailed out by his father's pals time and again. Everything he undertook was a miserable failure, failures he only made money off of through the intervention of his father's cronies. His presidency was a complete and utter failure to the American people starting with 911 and ending with the financial meltdown as well as his bailouts, HIS bailouts. For Laura Bush to be oblivious to these facts makes her, explicitly, the "other village idiot" from Texas. Just as an aside, Mr. Livingston for you to state "And he did become a much better man – he grew up to be president" shows you to be a vapid and vacant as she is. First, because "W" never grew up, and second because he was never "president" he was merely "present" though oblivious to what was happening around him. Cheney was the "decider" in the Bush administration and Rove was indeed the missing brain that Bush never possessed. That he was a tool for the neo-con movement never entered his vacant little mind, what little he had left of it after years of drug and alcohol abuse, abuse that Laura not only knew of but was a participant in. You really think Laura wrote this book? Sure, just like Georgie wrote his...I can just see him sitting at a keyboard, clueless as to how to use it, staring off into space in an alcohol induced stupor, unable to begin, end or construct and intelligible sentence. Laura, to her credit, tried to distance herself from the idiot later on when he was having drunken tirades in Whithouse from 2006 on by disappearing to the Mayflower Hotel to get away from him. She even tried to make a name for herself without him by her "humanitarian" attempts..good for her.

Posted by: Watcher1 | April 29, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

The experts say poison is out
For Bush's G8 illness bout;
He groped at this venue
So Merkel's new menu
Was bound to include sour kraut.

News Short n' Sweet by JFD8

Posted by: jd121 | April 29, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I have never understood the extreme good press that Laura Bush received, so I have very startled by your comment that the media treated her badly. My impression of her during the years in the White House was a very unexceptional woman, who placed in exceptional circumstances occasionally rose to them.

The faux outrage of Mrs Bush, the Cheneys, and Rove over Senator Kerry's mentioning that a 35 year old woman, who had worked for Coors Beer as their liaison to the gay community and who Cheney himself had often spoken of as gay, was gay. The fact is that it was in a very positive, statement speaking of accepting gays, who were as God made them. As the mother of a gay daughter, I liked those statements as did my daughter. The fact is that Senator Kerry, not Mary Cheney's dad, fought for gay civil rights for decades.

Now, why would Bush want to cover this. The only reason I can think of is to rewrite history and to somehow blame Senator Kerry for the extreme ugliness of the 2004 election. However, all of us with no hint of Alzheimer's are likely to remember Kerry's high road campaign and positive convention - and the hatefest with the purple heart band aids from the Republicans.

While repeating Bush's negative characterizations of Senator Kerry for a comment that is only as bad to a person as their feelings towards gays is - reflecting more on the critic than the Senator, there is a strange unwillingness to question who the elusive Mrs Bush is.

There is a very strange sense of her making her accidental killing of a friend all about her. To me, their is a tawdriness and cheapness, to use words she quotes here as ones Lynne Cheney ridiculously used, in a 17 year old and her family in not making a call to the boy's family to express her sympathies and apologize. That this was a boy she was close friends of and whose house she likely visited makes this worse.

As to her bizarre set of jokes, I doubt the media would have taken some of those jokes in stride had they been said by Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Teresa Heinz Kerry, had her husband won.

Posted by: kpc1 | April 30, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

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