With the recent release of Laura Bush's new book, it brings to mind how readily we have overlooked the contributions of First Ladies in the U.S. Mrs. Bush has worked miracles in softening the harsh criticism of her husband. Unlike Barbara Bush and her more hard-edged First Lady persona, Laura Bush brought a more feminine touch, a more school librarian understanding. She is not alone in being underappreciated.
Think back for a moment. Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, and Hillary Clinton, each brought unique contributions. Even Mrs. Nixon made Richard Nixon a LITTLE more tolerable at times. Mrs. Truman, Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Reagan also brought forth some contributions, silently and/or more openly.
Eleanor Roosevelt brought the First Lady image into a more modern age with early women's rights. She carried out an activist role, and made the role of First Lady something other than window-dressing and furniture selection.
I'm personally pleased that Laura Bush was in the White House during the previous decade. I would like to think that some of the more humane attempts by President Bush were because of her. He tried to bring about humane immigrant reform, and though he failed, I often wonder if his wife had something to do with his initiating the attempt. And some of the educational attempts on his part may have been whispered in his ear by his wife.
Thank you, Laura Bush, for giving a more humane and tolerant image to a troubled White House. Perhaps we needed you more than we will ever know. It is impossible for me to imagine her alongside Dick Cheney and the creepy and numbing darkness of that Vice President. The nation was probably better served because Laura Bush reclined in an important place each night. Who knows?