Copyright © 2005 Henrietta W. Hay
Laura Bush, Comedienne
May 13, 2005
We already knew that the Bush Administration has a wide range of political tools in the West Wing to use when the ratings get a bit low.
Now we know they have a few in the East Wing. They have brought out the big gun -- an amateur stand up comic who admits to being related to the President.
I do really admire Laura Bush. She has behaved in a dignified, gracious manner as a Presidential wife. She is a professional woman, and has raised her daughters well. From what we learn without meeting her, she is just plain nice, and as she admits, she can pronounce nuclear. But I think she'd better keep her day job.
It seems to me that she has been used by the Administration, not as a strong woman, but as a political tool to beef up her husband's image as a regular fella.
Oddly enough I wasn't invited to the White House Ccorrespondents' Association diner in Washington, at which she was far and away the main speaker. But I caught part of her speech on TV, and it has been widely quoted, along with many opinions about it.
A couple of days ago a male friend of mine asked me in all innocence what I thought of the speech. I reacted instinctively and nearly pounded the table with my silverware. He was obvious;y shocked and we immediately started talking about the weather. Later when we discussed it calmly, he made the valid point that he thought as a feminist I would have been pleased at her courage. After all, where but in America could the wife make fun publicly of the leader of the country and not be immediately beheaded?
Mrs.. Bush read a speech written by Landon Parvin, who was also a speech writer for President Reagan. She delivered it very well and with humor, but she did not seem overly comfortable. In fact, I suspect that she was embarrassed. She started by telling her husband, who was speaking, to sit down, that she wanted to talk. The jokes ranged from criticism of her in-laws to sexually tinged stories, including a homoxexual "joke."
Many people that I have talked to thought it was very funny and it would have been on Saturday Night Live. After all, in America every citizen
has the right to free speech, but a bit of judgment is indicated sometimes.
There is a difference between a wife being used for a political purpose and just being strong and independent on her own.
Did it polish or dim his image? Probably nobody knows, but it certainly attracted attention.
Mr. Bush has a very strong support base in the Far Religious Right with their much talked about Family Values. They have never defined them exactly, but we are all expected to live by them. This speech joked about most of the things that they oppose, including sex on TV, homosexuality, independent women. It will be interesting to find whether the Right Wing's sense of humor can overcome its Family Values for an evening.
The opinions of governments abroad remain to be seen. It certainly couldn't happen in any of their lands.
But for all the opinions and issues involved in this bit of burlesque, the last word goes to a good friend of mine. She commented that anybody who can laugh at this President has her complete admiration. Mine too!