Saturday, November 29, 2008

Little Laura, Happy at Last?

Recently, a friend concluded an email conversation with:

And what does Laura Bush think of him? Can you imagine being married to a man like that?

Actually, yes I have. More than once I've said to her image on television, "Was the money worth it?"

(Rather than pick one image for this post, I'm linking to BAGnewsNotes with their entry on Laura Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina refugees because these are pictures she would, I assume, have approved. The body language/photo analysis is spot on.)

I have always felt sorry for Laura Bush. Even though I suspect her response would be that I have a lot of nerve.

But this is still America. And I'm allowed.

She was the only child of parents who were in real estate development. This would have meant fusses being made over her, abundant clothes, her own car when she was old enough, and never worrying where the tuition money would come from. As a big reader, I admire and adore librarians, who tend to share my own love of books and learning. It's never going to pay the big bucks, nor would teaching primary school, her other profession. That was a sincere expression of where her priorities would lie; a life of the mind, involved with children and other seekers after art and compassion and goodness.

So I see Laura in 1977, getting married at 31, to the handsome, charming, and quite rich young W. She was undoubtedly looked on as someone who would "settle W down" and her inability to do so must gnaw at her, though it's a foolish aspiration and an impossible task. To create more tensions with her Republican-viewed roles, she needed help to conceive the twins, and it probably pains her to see them making fools of themselves partying in various countries. Of course she loves them. Was it her fault his family spoiled them so, when she wanted them to love books and education? Didn't she try hard to make them appreciate all their nice things?

It probably seemed like a good deal to her once. But if you look at her Panic-On-Thorazine countenance now, I'm sure she's having second, third, and fourth thoughts. Not only, in the words of my friend, is she married to a man like that, she has a mother-in-law like that. (Insider talk has it that George W. is very much like his mother. I shudder.)

I am sure her librarian heart is pained by how her aspirations for a personal life were so cruelly shrunken and hemmed in by the very things she thought would guarantee a good result. She looked past the frat boy shenanigans (marriage will make him grow up) and did not realize how shallow the charm went (he can be so sweet and needy) and discounted his family (I'm marrying him, not his family, we can lead our own lives) until it was way too late.

The money! The people they know! The circles they move in! The clothes, the parties, the fun! The money, so much money... surely it would buy happiness.

She's writing a book, I hear, for several millions. I think leaving the White House will be a watershed moment for her; children grown, First Lady obligations over, and a source of her own income from the book contract, probably for the very first time since the marriage. While not officially separating, I think she will distance herself from whatever Bush will be doing, as her marriage deteriorates into more and more of a caretaker role for a brain-damaged, selfish, and temperamental manchild.

There can be hired minders now, called "aides" and "secretaries" and "staff," and he can clear all the brush, bicycle all the trails, and party in dark dens all he likes. She'll show up for official events, and the rest of the time... she'll go back to being the librarian she must be at heart.

I see her working quietly in charities by donating her name and appearances at events. There will be a circle of her own friends. If there is an affair, it will be very quiet and discreet, covered up by the families involved. Because she will still be in that big money world, but I know she will not be the only refugee from it.

She can find like-minded others there; doing good deeds in fabulous clothes, having fun brunches instead of drunken bashes, popping up with perfect manners when her husband needs her at the photo-op, but no longer pretending to herself it's a real marriage, or a real family.

The girlish dreams of love and art were just that, she tells herself. Everyone compromises. Time for Laura, at last.

Does she have nightmares of the blood and pain and death those around her brought about? Does she wonder if she could have made things, different?

No, I don't think she does. She was "the wife." There to sacrifice, support, suggest, sanction, and smile, smile, smile.

She had nothing to do with policy. Whether it was good or bad was not her call to make.

If W made orphans, her job was to send them food and clothes.

To show she cares.

To look at the pictures from this officially shot and chosen photo-op is to see someone who does care; and is completely helpless to do anything about it. The constraints of her position must seem overwhelming, and she's not the rebellious type.

It must have seemed like a fairy tale ending for Laura the Librarian; swept off her feet by a handsome prince. She took the bargain, she lived up to her end, and if it meant she wound up married to a drunk who loved fart jokes and is already known as the Worst President In Our History Thus Far; well, one thing money does is compensate for a lot of problems that would otherwise be overwhelming. The important thing is that her real friends will be too polite to mention it.

And if nobody talks about it, well, it's not like it really happened, is it?