Better Angels

"...all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." ---Abraham Lincoln, First Innaugural Address

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

What a weird thing to say!

I've noticed something strange about W's stump speeches. He likes to
start them out by mentioning Laura, even when she isn't there. Here's an
example from last week's rally in Ohio:

I wish -- I wish Laura were here today to see this crowd. (Applause.) I'm going to have dinner with her tonight, and I cannot wait to tell her what I saw. (Applause.) As you might remember, she was a public school librarian. I asked her to marry me; she said, fine, just so long as I don't ever have to give a speech. (Laughter.) I said, okay. (Laughter.) Fortunately, she didn't hold me to that promise. The American people got to see her in New York City a while ago, saw what a strong, compassionate, great lady she is. (Applause.) I love her dearly. Perhaps the most important reason to put me back into office is so that Laura is First Lady for four more years. (Applause.)

(The most important reason? Good Lord, what does that even mean? Can you imagine if Clinton had said the same about Hilary? It would have been a national news event for weeks. Is Laura Bush actually accomplishing something as first lady? Please, somebody, help me understand this.)

But I digress. What I thought was truly strange about this little anecdote about his marriage proposal. He's told it a lot. I don't know why because it really doesn't make any sense. A 2001 profile on tells the story this way:

Laura and George W. Bush married after a three-month courtship in 1977 when both were 31. "I saw an elegant beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time," George W. said of his wife while he was governor of Texas.

Soon after the marriage, George W. Bush began his first political campaign for Congress, which he lost. Laura, raised a Democrat, was now forever tied to a Republican dynasty with her new husband, the grandson of a senator and the son of an ambassador who would soon become vice president, then president of the United States.

While she agreed to take on the role of political wife, she made her husband promise that she would never have to give a speech -- a promise long since broken.

She "agreed to take the role of a political wife?" That's an odd way to put it. But then again, according to Bush's little tale, Laura responded to his proposal with "Fine. As long as I don't have to give a speech." Not "Oh! George! You've made me the happiest woman alive!" Nope, just "fine." There's some real passion there, kids.

Even with the weird dynamics of their relationship aside, it's undeniable that rather than highlighting his accomplishments or complimenting his wife in a more conventional way or demonstrating his patriotism or something suitably campaign-like, Bush chooses to open almost every stump speech he gives, including today's "major policy speech" by bragging about the fact that he doesn't keep his promises. Telling, eh?