The Dissing of Laura Bush
MARCH 17, 2009
If the ABC interview was a one-off thing, it would be easy to overlook. But these days the reporting seems to reflect an assumption that if the Obamas haven't done something, nobody else has, either. Certainly the Washington Post did not challenge the First Lady's social secretary when she said, "one idea Michelle had was to have an event for military families -- here they are sacrificing so much for the country and many of them probably have never been invited to the White House."
This uncritical reportage does Laura Bush an injustice. In hundreds of ways -- picnics on the South Lawn, fund-raising for scholarships for the children of sailors on the USS Texas, unheralded visits with the wounded and families of the fallen, the work she did for military kids under her Helping America's Youth initiative -- Mrs. Bush showed our troops and their loved ones how close they were to her heart.
Possibly the difference in treatment owes something to Mrs. Bush's graciousness. Though she had many of her own initiatives -- from improving opportunities for Afghan women to giving voice to the advocates of democracy persecuted by Burma's ruling junta -- she also picked up some of the work of her predecessor, Hillary Clinton. For example, whenever Mrs. Bush spoke about her Preserve America program for national monuments, she would also give credit to Hillary Clinton's Save America's Treasures initiative.
That graciousness, alas, seems only to feed the orthodoxy that condescends to any American woman deemed insufficiently progressive on the received wisdom. the rest image
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