Here's looking at you, kid ... first lady-elect Laura Bush with her husband President-elect George W. Bush.
Why everyone is expected to love the first lady. Elaine Sciolino reports.
The New York Times -Saturday January 20, 2001
|Newspaper and Journal Articles-Quoted||When she was
five, Laura Bush has told her friends, she lined up her
dolls and pretended to be their teacher. Over the years,
she has arranged her personal library according to the
Dewey Decimal System and has kept her record collection
of 33s and 45s in mint condition and dust-free.
As first lady of Texas, friends and colleagues say, she assembled thick scrapbooks of official and personal events, chose her Christmas card by the previous February and wrote thank-you notes within 24 hours of an event. Her clothing designer says that she arranges her shoes (in original boxes) according to hue and has begun to scan photographs of her wardrobe into a computer. Her architect says that she doesn't leave papers unfiled and doesn't post yellow sticky notes as reminders of things to do. Her friends say that she scrubs and straightens to release excess energy.
Now, the librarian-schoolteacher from West Texas with the passion for serious literature is about to become first lady of the United States, an unimpeachable, unpaid and undefined job that comes with both power (without an electoral mandate) and public scrutiny (without the luxury of escape).
Bush declined to be interviewed for this article, as did her in-laws. But in a prepared statement about her goals as first lady, Bush said: "I have a lifelong passion for introducing children to the magic of words. I was a public school teacher and I know what a difficult and rewarding job teaching is. I am proud of my efforts on behalf of the children of Texas and I look forward to building those efforts on behalf of all American schoolchildren."
Interviews with Bush's friends and colleagues suggest that she will play the role with the same combination of steely discipline, orderliness, even temper and gracious warmth that have served her well through her life. And her biggest cheerleader of all is her husband.
"People are going to love Laura," President-elect George W. Bush said in an interview at their Texas ranch last week. "She's not going to play the Washington game of trying to outdo anybody. She's just going to be a down-to-earth, strong, independent-minded, smart woman, is what she is, and very lovely, and gracious. And Laura is a great listener."
Unadorned in the way she dresses and decorates, Bush is nevertheless obsessed with detail and is expected to ensure that even the humblest White House occasion runs according to plan. "She's an extremely organised woman," said Andrea Ball, her chief of staff. "She thinks of every detail."
Demure in public, Bush is said by friends, both men and women, to possess a personal magnetism that she uses to get things done. They point to her flawless complexion, her deep blue eyes and her irresistible charm. Of her eyes, a male friend said: "They look at you and say: 'You must obey Laura Bush. You must obey Laura Bush."'
Suspicious of the media, Bush is expected to try to carve out what Hillary Rodham Clinton once called a zone of privacy. Bush has told reporters that if she ever disagreed with her husband, "I'm not going to tell you." In January 1999, she acknowledged her reservations about moving onto the national stage, telling reporters: "I'm reluctant. I'm not particularly worried about safety. Privacy. I'm very worried about privacy."
But asked last week who her role models as first lady were, she said in the prepared statement: "Of course, my mother-in-law and friend Barbara Bush because of her ferocious love for her children. She loved the president-elect before I did and she loves her grandchildren and I am the mother of two of them. She is not pretentious and I appreciate that about her." The second model was Lady Bird Johnson, "because of her dedication to the preservation of native plants and highway beautification".
Some historians predict that the first lady she may come to resemble most is Mamie Eisenhower, who was three years older than Bush, who is 54, when she entered the White House and whose division of labour was simple: "Ike runs the country and I turn the lamb chops."
Bush may not actually turn the lamb chops (she admits she is a better cookbook reader than cook), but then, neither did Mamie Eisenhower. The historian Gil Troy, author of a book on first couples titled Mr and Mrs President: From the Trumans to the Clintons, said, "Of all the first ladies, Laura Bush is most like Mamie Eisenhower in that she will resolutely in public refuse to appear to be interested at all in wielding power in any way."
Certainly Bush has made clear that she will not be a policy-making first lady in the mould of Hillary Clinton, an ambitious, outspoken, high-profile lawyer who alienated much of official Washington and many Americans with her determination to be a player on hot-button issues like health care.
As first lady, she and her aides have said, she will continue the initiatives she worked on in Texas, where she championed literacy, supported programs for preschool children and created the annual Texas book festival, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the state library system.
Web Design-B.K. Goodman-2001-03