Posted by Dan Draney on August 13, 2005
The new column by The Wall Street Journal‘s Peggy Noonan is mainly about President Bush. We liked it, but she finishes with some words about the First Lady that we really loved:
“A word on Mrs. Bush. Everyone knows she is popular and admired, but I don’t think it’s been sufficiently noted that Laura Bush, in almost five years as first lady, has never made a mistake. She has not struck a false note or made a single misstep. This is remarkable. And our country has never seen anything like it.
Most first ladies five years in have made themselves look foolish at some point, or have been made to look foolish. Jackie Kennedy was the focus of sniping over her taste for luxury and long vacations, and was not loved until she was a widow. Lady Bird Johnson, with her well meaning, slightly clueless earnestness, was regularly lampooned. I remember someone doing an imitation of her in which she took the stage and introduced ‘My two semi-beautiful daughters.’ No one much liked the tightly wound Rosalyn Carter, and no one much disliked her.Nancy Reagan was reviled as a Hollywood airhead until she was reviled as a secret Machiavellian. Hillary Clinton was hated in many corners, and not only because she chose to interpret her husband’s election to the presidency as her elevation to a co-presidency. That was only part of it. When they made fun of her changing hairstyles it was because she seemed not to be in search of a good look but trying on new blond helmets in which to grimly wade forward like Brunhilde. Even Barbara Bush, probably the most liked of recent first ladies, got tagged as the Gray Fox or the Velvet Hammer. She was called tough as a boot and tagged as sharp-tongued. But no one has ever laid a glove on Laura. It is as if she were born to be first lady–easygoing, gently humorous, demure, ladylike. It takes enormous reserves of emotional discipline to sustain graciousness, to do the job right, to so disarm the press with what must be called, vulgarly but inescapably, natural class. She has never embarrassed our country. Of how many leaders or their spouses can that be said?
Well done. Well and amazingly done. Someone should do a monograph on what it is she did and how it is she did it. And it should of course be noted that she is another reason for her husband’s popularity with his base, and outside of it, too.”