The odd couple: is Laura too good for George?The Perfect Wife: The Life and Choices of Laura Bush By Ann Gerhart Simn & Schuster, $23.00
Consider the curious case of Laura and George Bush, in which the adage that opposites attract is taken to its logical extreme. She is a modest and dignified former librarian, whose best friends are progressive Democrats The Progressive Democrats (Irish An Páirtí Daonlathach, lit.: The Democratic Party), commonly called the PD's, are a free market liberal party in the Republic of Ireland. Founded in 1985, it adopts liberal positions on economic issues. , and who loves nothing better than to putter in her garden. She is known for her uncanny ability to sit perfectly still in public. He is, well, he's Dubya: the brash hell-raiser, the often-elitist and proudly anti-intellectual conservative Republican whom Americans have come to know and, in some cases, love. Her favorite book is The Brothers Karamazov. His is the Bible. In her 20s, she taught in a ghetto school. In his 20s, he was, in his own words, "young and irresponsible." She's fascinated by the world's cultures. He poked fun at a journalist who spoke French to Jacques Chirac.
Washington Post reporter Ann Gerhart's book deftly answers all sorts of questions about this odd couple's relationship. But well-reported and perceptive as it is, her book can't help but leave readers with an unanswerable question: What on earth is she doing with him? Physical attraction Noun 1. physical attraction - a desire for sexual intimacy
concupiscence, sexual desire, eros
desire - the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state is one thing--Gethart details the "crackling crack·ling
1. The production of a succession of slight sharp snapping noises.
2. cracklings The crisp bits that remain after rendering fat from meat or frying or roasting the skin, especially of a pig or a goose. chemistry" between these two attractive people who became engaged only six weeks after their first date, and married only six weeks after that. But don't spouses normally have quite a bit more in common than the sane junior high school in Midland, Texas Midland is the county seat of Midland CountyGR6 located on the Southern Plains of the western area of the U.S. State of Texas. As of the 2006 U.S. Census estimate, the city had a total population of 102,073. ?
The Perfect Wife is a short, breezy, guilty pleasure of a book, full of juicy quotes mad anecdotes that will remind the reader that its author once wrote the Post's "Reliable Source" gossip column gossip column n → ecos mpl de sociedad
gossip column gossip n (Press) → échos mpl
gossip column gossip n . Gerhart clearly admires Laura Bush, whom she has covered since 2001. She praises her warmth, sincerity, intelligence, and loyalty. But this is no valentine to the First Lady. Gerhart offers an unflinchingly clear-eyed view of her subject's foibles--never more so than when she describes the permissive, love-blinded parenting that has produced two of the worst-behaved offspring the White House has ever seen. Gerhart portrays the Bush twins, Jenna and Barbara, as careless young women who have used their Secret Service agents to tote their bags and arrange meetings with celebrities, when they aren't trying to elude e·lude
tr.v. e·lud·ed, e·lud·ing, e·ludes
1. To evade or escape from, as by daring, cleverness, or skill: The suspect continues to elude the police.
2. their protection altogether. "These girls have all the noblesse no·blesse
1. Noble birth or condition.
2. The members of the nobility, especially the French nobility.
[Middle English, from Old French, from noble, noble and none of the oblige," is Gerhart's pithy pith·y
adj. pith·i·er, pith·i·est
1. Precisely meaningful; forceful and brief: a pithy comment.
2. Consisting of or resembling pith. assessment.
Over and beyond the engaging portrait of Laura Bush and family offered here, there emerges a vexing question: How far into the post-feminist age are we going to continue this First Lady business, anyway? Isn't it absurd to think that the most theoretically capable leader in the land--supposed to be highly intelligent, intellectually curious, throughly through·ly
Thoroughly. modern in every way--will bare a spouse whose best skills am an adoring gaze and a knack for showing off Christmas decorations?
Given that America is now a place where, for instance, more women than men apply to medical school, this problem was waiting to happen. We saw it play out last time with Hillary Rodham Rodham is an English surname which may refer to a number of persons or places. People
Family of Hillary Rodham Clinton
tr.v. daunt·ed, daunt·ing, daunts
To abate the courage of; discourage. See Synonyms at dismay.
[Middle English daunten, from Old French danter, from Latin by the Page she generated among traditionalists, (And maybe we'll find, someday that the idea of a former president as First Gentleman In situations where the head of state or government is a woman, the term First Gentleman is sometimes used to mirror the term First Lady. The title is usually chosen by the leader's husband. Notable First Gentlemen
Meanwhile, in Laura Bush, we have someone who appears--at first glance--to be the anti-Hillary: a prim helpmeet help·meet
[From misunderstanding of the phrase an help meet for him, a helper suitable for him (Adam), in Genesis 2:18, referring to Eve.]
Noun 1. who has buried all evidence of independent thought in order to give complete support to a husband whose beliefs, in many cases, are direct opposites of her own. The problem is that Laura Bush, as Gerhart makes clear, is much more than that caricature She is a strong, independent, thoughtful woman with plenty of her own ideas which she cannot, or does not, articulate That can get dicey at times, as when this passionately committed champion of books and privacy sits by, wordless, as the nation's librarians protested the intrusiveness of the Bush administration's Patriot Act Patriot Act: see USA PATRIOT Act. .
Whatever that kind of accommodation may be doing to Laura Bush's psyche (cold she's not about to tell), this arrangement works beautifully for her husband. In his worlds, "I have the best wife for the line of work I am in. She doesn't try to steal the limelight." And another time: "Laura is the perfect complement to a camera hog like me." So, when she's in her official capacity, she simply takes her intelligence underground. At times, the results are poignant--and, to Gerhart, disturbing.
'As I watched Laura Bush in those first months moving through her public events, I noticed how much more animated and commanding she was when acting solo. When she traveled with the president, she faded to background. It made me wince ..." And she also observed that when Laura Bush spoke in her official capacity or about her relationship to the president, she reverted to simple sentences, reminiscent of the Dick-and-Jane primers. On her initial impressions of her future husband: "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."
But when she talked about books, or libraries, or education--her passions--her sentences grew far more complex. They became those of an accomplished grown-up grown-up
1. Of, characteristic of, or intended for adults: grown-up movies; a grown-up discussion.
Is it reasonable to believe that thinking 21st century women will keep playing this strange role for eight years (or even four)? Is it still acceptable for an American institution to insist, however implicitly, that a woman's survival in her "job" include near-complete sublimation sublimation, in chemistry
sublimation (sŭblĭmā`shən), change of a solid substance directly to a vapor without first passing through the liquid state. of her ideas? Is this only a problem when husband and wife are such wildly different people?
Gethart quotes Hillary Clinton on the subject: Being First Lady "is really a complicated calculation. It's very difficulty And as gender roles grow farther and farther removed from the Mamie Eisenhower model ("Ike runs the country and I turn the lamb chops"), it's not going to get any easier.
Margaret Sullivan is an editor of The Buffalo News.