Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A tale of two spouses

One is shied away from, by even some of their most stringent supporters. One is embraced openly.

One cannot buy new friends, even when things appear to be righting themselves. One has a perception around them that they can do no wrong.

One is President of the United States. One is the First Lady.

In the middle of one of the more turbulent moments in history, with civil wars threatening to break out globally, weather disasters creeping through the jetstreams, and politics threatening to fall apart along partisan lines, GDub and his wife are treated very differently. Just one example of this is on the campaign trail, where GDub is asked to stay away, yet Laura is invited quicker than you can say "bribery scandal".

Looking at the legacy of George, it's not much of a surprise. This is the man who stated beyond the shadow of a doubt on May 1, 2003 that we had reached Mission Accomplished in Iraq doesn't have any answers as to why we are still trying to reach a conclusion to our involvement in Iraq. Even the recent death of al-Zarqawi hasn't really helped his poll numbers. If anything, it's kept them from falling too much lower, as his administration seems to be falling around his ears and he's been creating more division in this country than has been seen in decades. After all, this is the man whose war has surpassed Vietnam for the most reviled combat exercise in American history. This is also the man who seems reluctant to admit to mistakes, and to actually follow through with any harsh language and actions, especially with regards to those that helped put him into office in the first place. And yet, when surrounded by liars, cheats, and criminals, the image, justly or not, is going to rub off.

In the meantime, Laura has miraculously distanced herself from even her own husband. GOP members up for election this year are actually proud to have her on the campaign trail, stumping for them. Her name attached to a candidate can bring in large sums of campaign money. The overall commentary about the First Lady is that she's just "a nice person", and that she's not trying to run the country.

And that may be where some of the difference lies, and definitely where the difference between Laura and the previous First Lady lie. George strikes portions of the country (larger and larger portions with each passing week, if you believe the pollsters) as a child who has stuck his hand too far into the cookie jar, and has bitten off far more than he can chew. He flounders in the face of true leadership, preferring to espouse catchphrases and hold onto beliefs that have been proven incorrect, simply because they are convenient to repeat. Laura seems content to play the stereotypical First Lady role, of being the person who chooses the decorations for the White House, and plays no part in politics, except for pet projects that can respond better to a softer, more feminine angle (i.e. Nancy Reagan and the "Just Say No" campaign). Meanwhile, Hilary kept putting her face into legislation, and made it crystal clear that she was just as interested in running the country as Bill was. It should have come as no surprise that Hilary ran for Senate, and is toying with a Presidential run.

Twenty years ago, Ronald Reagan was referred to as the Teflon President, because nothing ever really stuck to him or his reputation. Perhaps the American people should start referring to Laura Bush in a similar light. She has miraculously side-stepped all the bad feelings and discontent aimed at her husband, and emerged as someone who can draw support and positive thoughts towards the GOP candidates.

And, in light of all that George has put this country through, that is no small feat.

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