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      If there is something this blog is about, it’s how to think. There’s an entire category, but it’s most of what I write. Thinking well isn’t about always being right, because you can’t be. It is about having models of the world that are right often enough; and, that when wrong fail with the least […]
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Friday: Lucky is the man with the mute wife

May hit her target but left no discernable impression

May hit her target but left no discernable impression

It’s been a long time since I saw A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum but I seem to recall that one of the characters was a beautiful mute woman.  The man who won her hand was congratulated.  He was lucky to have such a beautiful wife and her value was immeasurable because she couldn’t speak.  The exact quote was funnier coming from the mouth of Zero Mostel but only because it was so obviously farcical.

What isn’t so obvious is this piece by Tunku Varadarajan at Forbes.com called In Praise of Laura Bush.  I don’t want to sound culturally insensitive but maybe Tunku’s heritage has something to do with his attitude towards women.   But he doesn’t chide her for failing to walk three paces behind George, which for Varadarajan must be an admirable show of restraint.  Nevertheless, we get a keen insight into the minds of the well-connected that is, well, downright first century:

For eight years, Mrs. Bush has come to represent quiet grace in a White House marked by gaudy bluster. She was a measured, succinct first lady in a presidency that came to symbolize frantic ambition–and frantic ideology. She has been an old-style first lady, never seeking to upstage her husband, and she has, in truth, been one of the very few bright spots of an invariably dysfunctional, and occasionally scary, administration.

Laura Bush was self-effacing by choice, and by an exquisite understanding of her role in the White House. She was only noticed when she wanted to be, and when such moments came she held our attention with a fragrant panache

There has never been any doubt, however, that she Stands By Her Man, and it might even be said that she has “mothered” him to a significant extent: by being patient, and fully aware of her (frat) boy’s tendency to over-exuberance; and by tamping down the tempests that surge within his breast. Somewhere along the line, she may even have saved his life.

Mrs. Bush is of a certain American type: wholesome, inclined to good works, a homemaker and mother, a supporter of the man she married, a smiling hostess. She is not flashy or colorful, overly intellectual or palpably shrewd, demonstrably independent or politically aggressive.

My, my, my, there is a certain unspoken something in Mr. Varadarajan’s commentary that resembles negative space.  It is the thing that is referred to by its absence.  Or should I say, the *she* that is referred to by her absence?

But put her aside for a moment.  I, for one, will be very happy to see Laura Bush leave the White House.  Mr. Varadarajan refers to her as a certain American type.  Indeed, Edith Wharton referred to Laura’s type when she wrote The Age of innocence.  Laura is very much in the model of the May Archer type.  She is a woman of no great curiousity and who lives a very constrained existence in the narrow field of vision granted to her by her tribe.  In her case, the tribe is wealthy and cloistered.  Her behavior and actions are dictated by those around her.  As long as she sticks to the convention and expectations of those who govern her actions, she will live in comfort and security.  Wharton called it a “hard bright blindness” that May Archer lived in.  She was not unaware of unpleasantness beyond her sphere.  She just chose to not acknowledge it.

I see Laura Bush as a complete and utter failure as a First Lady.  She lived in the White House for eight years and her presence, personality and will seem to have left no impression on her ceremonial office or her husband’s policies.  She is not remembered for any initiatives or interests.  Her literacy project was started with little fanfare and spluttered into nothingness over the years.  She stands out to me most notably as the person who unequivocally condemned stem cell research, as only a person untouched by personal medical tragedies could do.  It wasn’t heartlessness so much as her heart would not let itself be troubled by pain and misery.  I have no doubt that she has experienced such pain but her milieu has allowed her to put it behind her, to lock it away, to regard it as an artifact.

Her “certain American type” still exists in the country clubbed, blonde bobbed havens of the moneyed class and the middle class suburbanites who strive to the next step up.  I know people like her in my suburban wasteland who carefully monitor themselves and others so that they can glide through life relatively unscathed.  Their children are scheduled to an inch of their lives and grow up in a kind of hothouse atmosphere where the only children they are allowed to know are the children of their parents’ friends.  They are colorless and flavorless.

Mr. Varadarajan’s opinion of Mrs. Bush is laughable to me.  Since Hillary Clinton became first lady while I was still young and impressionable, *she* is my role model.  Working women want to see a woman in the White House who is everything that Mr. Varadarajan despises.  We want to see independence, intelligent, shrewdness and a certain amount of ambition.  What woman would come away from 8 years of experience without a certain amount of ambition?  How can a person not want to use what she has learned to change the world, unless the person in question is emotionally and intellectually dead?

Of course, following Laura Bush’s model will keep the nasty press off your back and if you really want to give it all up to become Mom-In-Chief, well, that’s your choice.  But I sincerely hope that Michelle Obama makes a point of saying that she is not a role model for the vast majority of working class women out here.  And by working class, I mean anyone not in Laura Bush’s social stratum.  If you have to work for a living, you’re working class, no matter what you do.  Most women in the country can’t give up their lives to stay home with the cookies and milk for two girls who do not require full time daycare anymore.  What Michelle Obama does between the hours of 9-3 is up to her but I really hope she doesn’t pretend she’s a housewife.

If the next First Lady doesn’t want to end up like the last one, she’ll speak up, show us how smart she is, get a little ambitious and tell Mr. Varadarajan to take a long hike off a very short pier.

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63 Responses

  1. still reading… but a “measured, succinct first lady”?
    What the hell is a “succinct” first lady.

  2. I expect that the next first lady will fit the model wife role and do nothing extraordinary. The Obama’s are a selected, managed, illusion created Stepford family. And they were created by men who think having Michelle wear designer clothes and decorate the white house while raising her children is what is important about a first lady’s image. You can tell this by the way they behave when they think they need to communicate with women. Remember the tea party 10 (Female Dem Senators) coming out the day after Hillary’s slam job was complete and talking about…what did they talk about? Then Michelle went on the “View” which women don’t watch because they are at work when it is on and then there were a bunch of articles in the corporate media who slammed Hillary about Michell’s fashion and challenges as a mother? Well that was Obamas load of male advisor’s and their token female kiss asses making the rounds touching what they think are the bases in terms of female support. Trust me we will be hearing an endless load of drivel regarding fashion regarding Michelle and that is it.

  3. a “fragrant panache” Jezus, god in heaven.

  4. Laura is moving to the right place. The mind set in Dallas is represented nicely by the wonderful ticky-tacky song I first heard in Frankfurt High School in Germany when my two older brothers sang it in choir in the 60’s.

    We are still in the 60’s in Dallas as evidenced by USA today picking up the Dallas Morning News editorial on Warren. (they liked the choice). I will be surprised if they don’t pick Laura as Texas of the Year – they are gearing up to envelop Bush in the fold.

  5. RD, was this some kind of sociological test to see how much you readers could bear before they picked up a club to go looking for this writer? — just kidding, but now, finally I get to read your comments under the pathologically insane guy’s.
    sorry to keep mini posting, but one has to protect one’s sanity by dumping any extra BS.

  6. RD ~ is there any way you could get me out of moderation in the previous post?
    thanks….leslie

  7. I’ve long suspected Laura Bush is a FLINO. Left to her own devices she’d probably be single.

  8. Isn’t there a quote from Laura in Bush’s bio where she states in Bush family gatherings she would just ‘listen and smoke’?

    God forbid she express an opinion.

  9. Well said rd. Although, I hope her plea for Afghani women helps do something, motivate someone, or gets the empowerment program locked in Biden’s Foreign Relations Cmte. moved. Got to take any help where you can find it. I’m wondering if she might be a little more active after she is out of the WH.

  10. You know I can’t say I ever cared for Laura Bush.
    She seemed so timid.
    But I saw her in some interview where she talked about Palin, and damn if I didn’t see a mind at work with a bit of a biting sense of humor hidden behind that rather blank exterior.
    I like the “listen and smoke line” (never heard it before)… it sounds just a wee bit humorous.
    Surely the crazed misogynist writer in RD’s post would never have approved of smoking. I mean what’s next– taking off the veil or wearing skirts above the ankle?

  11. Right on!

  12. Great post RD. And just btw, I do so wish we could do away with the very title “First Lady”. There is the President’s wife. Someday, there will the President’s husband. In an even further day, there will be the President’s partner in civil union.

    If the President needs a social host/hostess to perform functions related to protocol and etiquette, that should be a publicly available, posted position and anti-nepotism laws/regulations/standards should apply. (That is the President’s domestic partner is disqualified from the job, as would be a sibling or a parent.)

    Whether the President’s domestic partner gets invited to social functions, wants to attends, wants a job outside of government or within or any job outside the home (to take just a few examples) then would become, as would be normal in any normal American household in the 21st century a matter of business decisions by the official host/hostess and the personal choices of the domestic partner.

  13. leslie, on December 26th, 2008 at 1:54 pm Said:

    You are out of moderation on the previous post.

  14. Laura Bush will never be remembered…but the only kind of woman that swaggering bush would have married.

  15. Laura Bush may have started some good programs (such as in Afghanistan) but the only thing I will remember about her is her initiative to help young boys whom she felt were being “left behind”. It’s all about the boys.

    http://www.religionandsocialpolicy.org/news/article_print.cfm?id=2375

  16. she has “mothered” him to a significant extent: by being patient, and fully aware of her (frat) boy’s tendency to over-exuberance; and by tamping down the tempests that surge within his breast. Somewhere along the line, she may even have saved his life.

    I think this guy has been reading too much Louisa May Alcott. I love her book and do not mind these sentimental ideas from her because she was quite a radical woman for her times. However it is now 2008 and even I, being a huge fan of “Little Women” do not speak this way.
    What utter rot and what pray tell is a fragrant panache?

  17. GAgal, I saw a video from Afghanistan this morning. It was about the soldiers there giving presents to local women and children. the women were wearing those same old burkas.
    Laura Bush did NOTHING to help the women of Afghanistan. She may have tried but it didn’t take. Women are back to being burned alive and girls can no longer go to school in most places.

  18. I can’t stand Michelle Obama and I doubt that anything she does will change that opinion.

  19. I don’t have much of an opinion of Laura. I guess I should after 8 years but I don’t. I bear her no antipathy but I did not see her as rising to the times to be an inspiration. Other than library books I really don’t remember her offering her opinion much.

  20. cwaltz, I think Laura Bush is probably a decent person and not nearly as much of a horse ass as her husband. But I think she spent a lot of time self medicating.

  21. I don’t have an opinion on Laura, though it’s nice she likes to read. I do hold the opinion that it must be no picnic to be Barbara Bush’s daughter in law. yiiii!

  22. That’s why we wanted Hillary, isn’t it?

    It is. She wasn’t a “housewife” –she was like all of us are.
    Her work is part of her feminist “net worth” — in our eyes.
    another great one RD — I hope they hear the Conf. loud and clear.

    ps: as to all that “overscheduling” in childhood — this set has created what is called “the emo children” — they are offing themselves and it is so sad — their kids, for all of the electronic toys, tvs, video games, and assorted yum yums they just got yesterday have almost no skills at “life” per se.

    you said it perfectly —

    Sardello wrote that we were raising a nation of sociopaths — it takes one to raise one —

    this is a gen raised on “pills” as well — not taught the humanities at all — they feel nothing but void for all the texting in the world…

    very sad, very sad indeed ——

    comparing Hillary to Laura? You can’t.

    hope everyone at the Conf. had a great holiday however they celebrated —

    got a call from my little brother who has lived in Mex for the last dozen years — the economy here has tanked it for them, there — so he is moving to Australia. Wow. It’s so far away, and he’s my last living blood relative — since he is outside of here, he has insights — he said the whole world is in the same boat.

    both of them did that luxury real estate stuff that nobody is buying these days ——

    who caused it all to crumple?

    It makes one wonder.

    Ugh.

  23. Uh oh! I’m in moderation! -hmm?

    Ah well!

    xxoo!
    RD & Co……….!

  24. Laura Bush is the closest thing to a female non-entity as I can imagine, but I’m not complaining. Better to live quietly than to flit about making messes. I only hope the next first lady will also stay out of the action. Laura lacks passion, but the new one is passionately racist, thinks with her emotions, is rather crude and lacking in tact….at least, that’s how she seems to me.

  25. perries, on December 26th, 2008 at 2:46 pm Said:

    I don’t have an opinion on Laura, though it’s nice she likes to read. I do hold the opinion that it must be no picnic to be Barbara Bush’s daughter in law. yiiii!

    Wouldn’t wish that on a dog!

    OTH, I recall she made a number of trips to NOLA post-Katrina, but I don’t know of anything specific that she did other than a look/see.

  26. I remember seeing something like this about Sarah and Hillary a few months ago. I think it pertains to this situation as well. Will we ever be able to stop tearing each other apart?

    Hillary
    Laura

    She should not have stood by her man.
    She should not stand behind her man.

    She has too many opinions about everything.
    She has no opinion about anything.

    She is too power hungry.
    She has done nothing with her life.

    She is too loud.
    She is too quiet.

    She is too hard.
    She is too soft.

    She is a Bitch.
    She is a Ninny.

    She is too masculine.
    She is too feminine.

    Look at that cleavage, she dresses like a whore.
    She dresses like my Grandma.

    Since we didn’t elect her, she should stop trying to have influence over the President.
    She didn’t try hard enough to influence the President.

    They are a political partnership and she probably doesn’t even love him.
    She is a Stepford wife and she loves him too much.

    She is a man hating feminist.
    She should be more of a feminist.

    She is not a woman we can be proud of.
    She is not a woman we can be proud of.

  27. teresainpa at 2:28

    Notice how the word “choice” is used in this article – and then refer to the article about the CIA giving Viagra to village elders. Confront the “disturbing” self-immolation crisis??? I hardly think Laura Bush has the stomach or fortitude to look into that.

    WHEN A WOMAN’S ONLY CHOICE IS A FIERY DEATH

    Patriarchal Afghanistan culture tries to confront disturbing self-immolation crisis

    http://www.nj.com/printer/printer.ssf?/base/news-14/1230269180119630.xml&coll=1

    From the article:

    “The family and village elders dominate life here,” said Sima Shir Mohammadi, who heads the ministry of women’s rights branch office in Herat. “Women have little influence in matters of their own lives.”

    Then the link to the WaPo article about giving Viagra to Afghanigan elders/chieftains in exchange for information:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/25/AR2008122500931_2.html?hpid=topnews

    Afghan tribal leaders often had four wives — the maximum number allowed by the Koran — and aging village patriarchs were easily sold on the utility of a pill that could “put them back in an authoritative position,” the official said.

    snip

    Such was the case with the 60-year-old chieftain who received the four pills from a U.S. operative. According to the retired operative who was there, the man was a clan leader in southern Afghanistan who had been wary of Americans — neither supportive nor actively opposed. The man had extensive knowledge of the region and his village controlled key passages through the area. U.S. forces needed his cooperation and worked hard to win it, the retired operative said.

    After a long conversation through an interpreter, the retired operator began to probe for ways to win the man’s loyalty. A discussion of the man’s family and many wives provided inspiration. Once it was established that the man was in good health, the pills were offered and accepted.

    Four days later, when the Americans returned, the gift had worked its magic, the operative recalled.

    “He came up to us beaming,” the official said. “He said, ‘You are a great man.’ ”

    “And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area.”

  28. I’m sorry – I posted 2 links and am in Spamalot. Can I get out?

  29. Laura Bush is the closest thing to a female non-entity as I can imagine, but I’m not complaining. Better to live quietly than to flit about making messes. I only hope the next first lady will also stay out of the action. Laura lacks passion, but the new one is passionately racist, thinks with her emotions, is rather crude and lacking in tact….at least, that’s how she seems to me

  30. Thia, there is always a reason that can be given for why not woman is good enough.
    What we do to each other indeed. I heard a woman say in 2004 that she could not vote for Kerry be Teresa was too much of a big mouth.
    I had a hard time voting for Kerry but it had nothing to do with Teresa.

  31. Thia-you’re right-LOL
    We should add Sarah to that too.

    She should not have stood by her man.
    She should not stand behind her man.
    She should look after her kid.

    She has too many opinions about everything.
    She has no opinion about anything.
    Her opinions are plain ignorant.

    She is too power hungry.
    She has done nothing with her life.
    She is too power hungry.

    She is too masculine.
    She is too feminine.
    She is a beauty queen.

    Look at that cleavage, she dresses like a whore.
    She dresses like my Grandma.
    She spends too much of other people’s money on clothes.

    Since we didn’t elect her, she should stop trying to have influence over the President.
    She didn’t try hard enough to influence the President.
    She is one heartbeat away from the Presidency.

    They are a political partnership and she probably doesn’t even love him.
    She is a Stepford wife and she loves him too much.
    He shouldn’t be the one changing the nappies.

    She is a man hating feminist.
    She should be more of a feminist.
    She is a soccer mom.

    She is not a woman we can be proud of.
    She is not a woman we can be proud of.
    She is not a woman we can be proud of.

    (Someone else can add CK)

  32. teresainpa- I heard that too.

    Laurie-very much improved! Do you mind if I add your version to our website?

  33. Ugh, CK. I saw a little bit of Princess Caroline on a local NY station today. She’s finally decided to give interviews. Her answer as to why she’s qualified to be a Senator was excruciating to watch. Aside from a “you know” between every other sentence she gave two reasons: 1) “I helped Obama choose his VP and I have a good relationship with him” and 2) “I know people in Washington and can put those connections to good use for the people of NY.” I almost threw something at the TV. Not only were her reasons preposterous, but she couldn’t even articulate them well. Perhaps Obama should loan her his teleprompter.

    About this post: the comparison to May is perfect. (Though I hate Winona Ryder!) I was also thinking of Aunt Petunia Dursley!

  34. I never read the book, The Age of innocence but did watch the movie. I believe May wasn’t as innocent as she looked. She knew her fool of a husband was in love or wanted another woman(Michelle Pfeiffer) and did everything to keep him. Didn’t she get pregnant on purpose to keep him? If I remember the story correctly she told him she was pregnant the day he was supposed to run away with Michelle Pfeiffer’s character. May looked innocent but she certainly wasn’t. Her husband realized that after she was gone.

    Laura Bush may have some secrets we just don’t know about.

  35. Just to give credit where credit is due…I found what I think was the original list about Sarah and Hillary on http://www.thenewagenda.net written by Sheri Tag.

    Here was her original list.

    Extremes of Sexism – Same Results Hillary/ Sarah

    Hillary is cold. Sarah is hot.
    No man would ever want to have sex with Hillary. Men want to have sex with Sarah.
    Men are afraid Hillary will castrate them. Men don’t fear for their private parts around Sarah.
    Hillary has too much Washington experience. Sarah does not have enough Washington experience.
    Hillary has too much baggage. Sarah has no baggage.
    Hillary was too wonkish. Sarah’s a beauty queen.
    Hillary craved power. Sarah’s power is not earned.
    Hillary’s old. Sarah’s young.
    Hillary wears a pantsuit. Sarah wears skirts.

  36. Having struggled to rip the seams and peer into the stuffing of the polished and shiny ones in my own life, I understand and approve RD’s thoughts. It seems to be a lifelong process. I’m hoping though, In the end, I will be able to forgive them their foibles and failures, and will have found the last rebuttal. Then, I will be free.

    teresainpa, I agree with you about the extent of her influence re: Afghanistan. I was pleased, though even as tepid as her effort was, that she made it. The original empowerment act expired at the end of 2006. The 2007 re-empowerment act which would have amounted to .4% of of the total Afghan war cost has been sitting in Biden/Obama’s Cmte. since early 2007.

    I see no good in giving folks money to start programs, then leaving them in the lurch for almost 3 years. Therefore, in my mind, anyone who speaks out, is a winner. The way in which this has been handled by the Senate (approved by the House) is disgraceful, and perhaps even Machiavellian, if it becomes part of the new Afghan Agenda.

    Could she have done more? Should she have done more? Could we? Should we? She is a librarian. Let her inform us.

    I started a letter on this subject to HRC and I have for some reason been reluctant to send it. I will today.

  37. RD, wonderful as always.

    A fun exercise, in the above passage replace Laura Bush’s name with Sajida Hussein’s.

    I can see it now, both of them with martinis and cigarettes kvetching about their husbands, finishing each other sentences and awash in their “fragrant panache.”

  38. Thia and Laurie – yeah.

  39. DYB I am disappointed to hear that Caroline didn’t just cut to the bottom line and say “My dying uncle wants me to be Senator and, hey America, you owe him.”

  40. Look at that cleavage, she dresses like a whore.

    Who said that Hillary dressed like a whore?

    I can’t wait to find out what MO does for the African American community. Lets not forget this was the woman that sent poor AA to other hospitals instead of treating them at the hospital she was working at. The one quote from MO I will never forget is this: “how can you run the white house if you can’t run your own home”

  41. Glad I’m not the only one that thought she looked drugged through most of the Bush years. But heck, she only married him for the name and money anyway. Guess she didn’t factor in being third after Momma and Condi.

    My prediction: When Bush leaves, expect her to take long trips away from him that puts her at least 1,000 away from him. She can’t divorce it (that’s right, I said “it”), but she can run and show up for the obligatory family functions once a year.

  42. “how can you run the white house if you can’t run your own home”

    Typical bougie black woman. Gonna be a lot of those in the next four years.

  43. Downticket,

    Hillary gave a speech where she had the tiniest bit of cleavage showing and it was all they talked about on the news for a week. Is she trying to soften her image? Appeal more to men? Be sexier? Is she too old to show cleavage? Is cleavage appropriate for a Presidential candidate? On and on and on. It was disgusting!

  44. Hi All! New post up!

  45. I don’t think there’s even a milliliter of compassion in MO’s body.

    Whereas Laura Bush probably does. But she was brought up brainwashed for her role — not necessarily as “1st Lady” but as Husband’s Accessory. George W would never have picked her otherwise.

  46. Laura Bush was in a position that very few women get a chance to be in – a position to make a difference. IMO she did not. I’m not going to refrain from criticizing her for that just because she’s a woman. I would do the same with Hillary, Sarah or anyone else regardless of gender. Treating her with kid gloves or pretending otherwise will not do anything for women’s causes except stall or move things backward. At the very least, she stalled.

  47. GAgal,

    I felt she could have done more but who knows what went on behind closed doors. I tend to give most women the benefit.

    As for Michelle, prior to her I never wished infidelity on anyone. I hope Obambi cxheats on her and I hope he gets publically caught so she can choke on her comments to Hillary.

  48. Mrs. Bush is of a certain American type: wholesome, inclined to good works, a homemaker and mother, a supporter of the man she married, a smiling hostess. She is not flashy or colorful, overly intellectual or palpably shrewd, demonstrably independent or politically aggressive.

    OMG…how wonderful that she is the quintessential Stepford Wife! We’re all so proud.

  49. Riverdaughter,

    You are loaded with talent.

  50. My impression of May was that she knew exactly what she was doing and knew almost at once her husband’s attraction to the countess, her cousin. But May was smart. In order to maintain her foothold and prestige in that cloistered society she played her hand well. In the end, it was May who won out as she was able to control her own environment.

    Laura Bush reminds me of the same type. Quiet, disarming, and willing to play her role from the vantage point of one who has reached the aspirations of marrying into a powerful family and who chose not to make waves. She married a “child” and gave back to him the role he was most comfortable with. Overindulged and to whom the word “no” was never used.

    Could she have done more as First Lady? Certainly. But would it have made a difference? We will never know. She cast her fate with this idiot but remains an enigma to the world. Laura Bush has played her hand well in the role assigned. She “submitted” for the sake of her spouse but for herself as well. She will always remain as the quintessential political wife: never make waves. And as he fades into history her role will remain unblemished far more than his ever will. Self preservation should not go unnoted.

  51. CWaltz, yeah, I have no doubt that was going on behind closed doors was that Laura was the doormat.

    Another thing about Laura – she did everything she could to avoid the feminist label. Her work for women of Afghanistan would be called humanitarian not feminist. Even Sarah Palin – while not exactly my definition of a feminist – wasn’t afraid to be called a feminist like Laura is.

  52. Thia, on December 26th, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I know all about the cleavage. Idiot Jay Leno joked about it. He even had some photoshopped image of her. I just don’t think anyone ever called her a whore.

  53. May played the only card she had. She got pregnant. It was a crude tool but she was incapable of any social interaction beyond the most banal and scripted. What did she *win*? She was the pampered child in a loveless marriage and she created an illusion of a perfect marriage while trapping her husband in the most claustrophobic existence. Newland Archer’s inner life was of no interest to her.
    She was a Borg who was out to assimilate everyone. That doesn’t make her a winner unless promoting assimation is your goal. And then what?

  54. Downticket, I heard a lot of people say that about Hillary (not on TV but online and in person). There were several cartoons to that end that circulated as well. It was disgusting.

  55. riverdaughter, on December 26th, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Newland Archer made the decision to stay in that marriage. He deserves no pitty. He was so self centered. Poor me! poor me! It was his decision to get married. He willingly married her. Before she agreed to marry him, she gave him a chance to pull out of the engagement which he didn’t. He trapped himself in that marriage. He never really hard the courage to leave his wife until it was too late. He never had that courage and that explains why he never meets her again after May is gone.

    I actually liked May. She was like a victim. Newland Archer marries her willingly and then he wants out just like that. May handled the situation the best way she could. She was only fighting to save her marriage. Newland Archer was a dreamer who never hard the guts to do what he wanted. If he had, he would have married the Countess not May.

  56. Downticket: Oh, I’m not taking Newland’s side in this. The only one I have true pity for is Countess Olenska. Newland wanted the Countess in the biblical sense and the Ellen held out as long as she could. But the plot is hardly the issue here. The point is that May and Laura are very content to be nothing more than ornaments who fade to matrons. They move from the dinner table to the family room with the rest of the ladies and talk about the most BORING things imaginable, all the while obsessively mindful that none of the other ladies expresses a thot that isn’t perfectly amiable. Dull as dishwater. I don’t hang out with those people here in the burbs. Being with them is pure torture. I understand that there are some people who like that kind of self-effacement and strict rules of engagement but it’s not for me. And I don’t particularly like the effusive praise by the media for it. It just makes our lives that much more difficult when we have to navigate the mine fields of meetings at work and what-not.

  57. RD, did you receive my email via pumapac?

  58. This is where i must disagree. I think Laura Bush is an introvert, and shouldn’t be belittled because of it. If i felt for a moment she was a woman who her husbandlorded over, I would agree. But the fact is Laura is a Librarian. She was never in her husbands business, because she chose not to be and probably did not want to be. Poltics does not interest her and from the looks of it neither do Camera’s. What you are doing to Laura BUsh is the the same thing done to Sarah Palin. YOu are trying to take what you think is an ideal woman and a good first lady and superimpose it on Laura Bush. But to push her into doing something she was not equipped to do or desired to do is the equivalent of trying to shove hillary in a closet and make her be silent. My own mother is quite out side of the house, but she is the person in the back ground getting things done. Louder women would fail if they didn’t have my mother quiet efficency helping them out.

    However having a big mouth doesn’t make you SuperFirst Lady either. to me Michelle Obama is a very deluded woman ” this is a woman who actually said obama could heal people’s souls?” And since everything in obama’s life is so fabricated anyway, I believed he chose Michelle for a reasons that i will keep to myself. But let’s put it this way, professional black women like Michelle have a hard time finding spouses. Most black male in positions like obama, have white wives much to the ire of the majority black women. So she lucked out and trust me she will not do anything to screw that up. She needs obama a whole hell of a lot more than he need hers. He could dump her today and could go out and find just as many articulate, intelligent women of all races who could do exactly what she does. Michelle knows this. Did any of you notice how A. Michelle got left home during the magical Mistory tour B. obama hurded her and the kids back stage so that he could bask in the crowds glory after he won the election, when most people keep their famly on stage with them, how progressive is that. And i do think I remember hearing that Obama goes on interviews with her. WTF

    emily dickson one of the greatest poets of all times was a quiet introverted woman, it was not discovered until after she died poems that we had the joy(snark) of reading and interpreting in high school. But in reality Never was their such beauty in pros and it bloomed in a quiet place. Laura is not hillary or michelle, but it does not mean she is not good first lady, or that she is an empty shell of a woman. She just might have been doing things while we weren’t looking and prefered it that way.

  59. Well, let me put my 2 cents in here.
    Laura Bush is an honrable woman. She’s a smart dresser, she’s funny, she raised 2 beautiful duaghters who are patriots, she puts up with the Bush fanily, she knows how to take care of herself when George goes on a bender (by renting a room in the Mayflower Hotel)
    she’s very friendly, warm and inviting and she knows Hillary. Plus she is smart. She was a teacher for many years in TX.
    NOW FOR MICHELLE. She will be on the payroll as they are working to change the laws right now to pay first ladies-I mean this incoming first lady. AHEM.
    She is the one pushing nObama and she is the most corrupt of the the Obama’s.
    Please comment about that. 😆

  60. […] Be mute – for lucky is the man with a mute wife – in River Daughter Blog […]

  61. Most of our “First Ladies” may have been wives and mothers but they were also women who participated in forming this country. By now everyone knows that Abigale Adams admonished her husband to “not forget the ladies” proving herself to be one of the earliest suffragettes. And Dolly Madison proved she had the strength of character to face down an enemy invasion when the British burned the White House in 1812.

    Most of the first ladies we remember did more than just host parties even though we have this 1950’s image of what women’s lives were like “back then”. Edith Wilson actually ran the country while her husband was ill, Eleanore Roosevelt not only assisted her husband Franklin, but was one of the first advocates for integration of the Armed Forces (which made her many enemies).

    Dismayed by the condition of our national heritage, Jacqueline Kennedy used her education and experience and spent her short time in the White House archiving our White House and working to make it a museum to preserve it. Hillary Clinton not only worked to achieve health care for all citizens, but made history by becoming the first First Lady to become a Senator.

    And there were those who achieved greatness simply by refusing to lay claim to status through their husband’s position like Mamie Eisenhower and Bess Truman.

    If you look at the list of first ladies you will see all had a different “take” on their role and most simply saw it as an extension of the “wifely” duties to their husbands. Some weren’t even wives but a relative pressed into hostess duty. (Now, they should probably have been paid.)

    But by paying these women who are living in the White House because they chose to go live there rent free and with a big staff paid by Our taxes ; we make it a political position and they don’t deserve pay until it becomes a job with set duties and we VOTE on who we want to fill the political position! And that position would not necessarily be filled by a spouse but someone proficient in the duties of being an official hostess, not some inept hospital administration official.

    And, seeing as how certain candidates weren’t elected but selected, Betty Ford, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama aren’t real first ladies because their husbands weren’t really elected by the People. The wives of unelected presidents should have a separate category of their own – in which case, Betty Ford would win the non-elected first lady prize, although more seem to join the group every election now.

  62. Crickets. Hmm.

  63. “she has “mothered” him to a significant extent: by being patient, and fully aware of her (frat) boy’s tendency to over-exuberance; and by tamping down the tempests that surge within his breast. Somewhere along the line, she may even have saved his life.”

    Sorry to say, but this seems to apply to Michelle Obama as well. That is, after she revealed through her big mouth that she does not have the skill or desire to be diplomatic in her remarks (which is much different than just toeing the line and being a “lady”), and even made derogatory remarks about her husband which made him look even more weak and ineffectual than he is. The more we learn about Obama the more we learnt that he gives jobs to either his cronies from Chicago, or to those whom he plays bball; what’s next those he held his weekly poker game with? When Michelle came to Milwaukee and made her famous remarks about how hard her and Barack had it paying for their kids private schools and ballet dances, etc., it took the local media to put a huge spin to offset the anger many women here felt since we had just had yet another factory close a few days prior.

    The fact that Michelle has publicly stated that she desires to be Mother in Chief and emulate Laura Bush’s style as First Lady speaks volumes.

    Give me Hillary’s or Eleanor’s style any day.

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