"The only thing George Bush has going for him is that he's married to Laura." Readers respond to Curtis Sittenfeld's love letter to the first lady.

Salon Staff
February 2, 2004 8:34PM (UTC)

[Read "Why I Love Laura Bush," by Curtis Sittenfeld.]

The Salon article on Laura Bush makes me wonder how I've missed this woman behind the shadow of her (big, dumb) husband. As a reader, I have to respect someone who's devoted her life to libraries and schools, and for the wife of a conservative Republican icon to not only publicly admit that she supports keeping Roe vs. Wade in effect, but also to keep all her liberal college friends, I'm amazed.


She's going to have to be added to my list of surprising, strong women that I'd like to meet -- right up there with Carly Fiorina, Martha Stewart (yes, her) and Hillary Rodham-Clinton (another first lady to admire).

-- Rebecca Milam

Ugh. Whatever. There's no accounting for taste, I suppose. Laura Bush shouldn't be criticized for her hair or clothing or makeup; she shouldn't be judged according to the impossible standards for firstladyhood.


But really, what's so interesting about a first lady who isn't interested in politics? What are we supposed to make of an education advocate whose husband proposes bogus initiatives without providing any funding (for example)? If she truly is apolitical, she's either not paying attention and/or not willing to be associated with anything that might be deemed controversial. (Witness the cancellation of that poetry forum she was supposed to host, after it turned out that many of the poets were vocally opposed to her husband's war in Iraq.)

-- Mary Severance

Of course she's a saint! Who else could put up with a husband like that?


-- Chris Elbich

As a fellow lefty, I too have kept my admiration for Laura Bush hidden. But I can't help it -- I like her. She's got none of the flaws of the Republican wives I detest -- passive-aggressive bitchiness (Barbara Bush); fashion-victim condescension (Nancy Reagan); reactionary old bag (Lynne Cheney).


Frankly, she's bright, curious and occasionally tones down her husband's ignorant rhetoric. I think she tempers his over-the-top cowboy tendencies (as a good first lady) while not trying to change him (as a good wife). And frankly, in my opinion, having Bush be married to her is about the only positive thing he has going for him; I can totally understand what he sees in her. I admit I have no idea what she sees in him. Must be the sex.

-- Lisa Sanford

I was initially drawn to this article because of a conversation I had with my girlfriend about whether Howard Dean's wife, Judith Steinberg, would make a good first lady. While I understand that Salon is a subjective source for news and cultural discourse, as is every news source, I was a bit disappointed to read the author's overly adoring take on Mrs. Bush. When I got to the line about Mrs. Bush's life reading like a novel, I'd had enough. I am not a Bush supporter and will vote for whichever Democratic candidate has the best chance of winning the White House.


President Bush has an entirely too capable staff of spinsters that spend as much time creating a public image for the presidential family as they do working on policy. Every item of personality discussed in the article screams of calculation, exactly what the author argues against, which to me just reaffirms that the personas fed to the public from the White House are plastic and contrived.

-- Billy Burch

I come from a long line of liberal-minded, strong-minded Southern women. I suspect Laura Bush is cut from that same cloth. I, too, admire her for her dignity, intelligence and lack of pretence. What I cannot get beyond is what in the world happened with her children? Laura Bush is the very picture of a gracious woman.


Why she has not insisted on at least a modicum of respectable public conduct from her daughters is a complete mystery to me. These young women's grandfather was the vice president and then president for a total of 12 years. Their father was the governor of Texas for six years before becoming president. Yet, after all this time in the public eye, their grandmother has to physically prod them to stand up and pay attention when their father is taking the oath of office? They were 18 years old, not toddlers! My daughter (a doctor and a mother of two daughters herself) and I discussed this very issue earlier today. We are both appalled and mystified.

Mrs. Bush is doing a serious disservice to her children by allowing them to make spectacles of themselves in the name of freedom to be teenagers. I just don't get it -- none of the women or men in my family would have condoned this behavior of their children.

-- Paula Johnson

I did not subscribe to Salon to read about what a great wife/mother/person Laura Bush is. She is no better than Lynne Cheney in her acquiescence to the great amount of unhappiness the Republican Party causes huge groups of Americans. I do not want to financially support the publication of a story by a person who admires a woman who negotiates her true life in the shadows of her more powerful husband.


-- Theron Neil Hilton

I am grateful to Curtis Sittenfeld for a thoughtful consideration of Mrs. Bush and all the rest of us bleeding-heart flaming knee-jerk liberals who've been perplexed by what honesty demands we admit: Even though she is married to That Man, we admire Laura.

From every angle, in her jeans and white shirts and cheap Mex and sneaked cigarettes, she's the real thing. So I figure her marriage, like the Clintons' and anyone else's who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania, is none of my business, and as long as Laura looks happy, I'm OK with it. I don't get it, I don't know how she can stand him, but I don't have to. Laura knows best.

-- R.J. Rockwell


This is a put-on, right? It's a simple question -- how much respect can you have for a woman who would subjugate her (alleged) intelligence and morality for the sake of her dimwitted, immoral husband? Worse, what kind of person would do this when that husband has the kind of power Bush does? If Laura Bush had an ounce of intelligence and integrity, she'd do what decent men or women do when they realize their spouse is a monster -- she'd divorce his lame ass.

Laura Bush is as guilty as her husband and not worthy of anyone's admiration.

-- Josh Olson

Laura Bush isn't hard to figure out. In fact she's fairly simple. Like millions of other women of her generation (early Baby Boom), she's educated, intelligent, confident and has a vision of good for the world. The only difference between her and Hillary is that Laura is secure enough not to constantly remind us that she is educated, intelligent, confident and has a vision of good for the world. The same could be said for Judith Steinberg Dean.


For eight years, Hillary constantly said, Look at me, look at me -- yet she's no more brilliant or insightful than Bush, Dean and other political wives. She's just more shrewd at marketing herself. Hillary is the Madonna of politics. For 20 years Madonna has produced trite dance songs that could have been recorded by any number of faceless performers. What set her apart was her unparalleled ability to market herself and her ever-changing image. Those who are most confident in their abilities may often be the same ones who see no need to trumpet them.

-- Rich Golden

Actually, Laura Bush seems like a basically decent person, but I have the same thing to ask her as I have to ask of Colin Powell: How can you let yourself be used by that creep?

-- Jim Hassinger

I am not surprised that Curtis Sittenfeld admires Laura Bush. But I doubt very much if Ms. Sittenfeld is a Democrat as she professes, or as anti-George as she claims. Even if it were true, such a treacly tribute to Laura is really a valentine to George.

If the first lady doesn't share her husband's views, then she is woman who is living with someone who recklessly sent 500 soldiers off to die and hundreds more to be victims of amputation, severe burns, suicide or madness. Anyone who believes that Laura is a good-hearted and innocent soul certainly would also believe that "The Brothers Karamazov" is her favorite book.

-- Allan Provost

I think it's nice that Curtis Sittenfeld has dug so deep to come up with reasons to admire Laura Bush. The woman sneaks cigarettes while her husband makes war on the U.S. middle class, the environment and Saddam Hussein. Yippeee! Surely the Medal of Honor will soon follow.

I find very little reason to applaud a woman who ran a Stop sign, hitting another car and killing its driver. A woman who has raised two daughters who seemingly have zero regard or appreciation for their privileges or position. A woman who has accomplished nothing on her own aside from marrying into one of the country's most well-connected families. Good for her. But I'll take my heroes with a little more substance.

-- Mark

In reference to Curtis Sittenfeld's article on Laura Bush: You're not alone. Mrs. Bush has managed to transcend the political fray like no one since perhaps Rosalynn Carter. To many Dems, how such a smart and personable woman could be married to Dubya is a mystery on a par with Bigfoot.

-- Dave Brown

Salon Staff

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