Our Bush Thankathon would not be complete without a look at one of the best First Ladies of our time!
Laura Bush is unquestionably one of the best First Ladies of the last 50 years or more. Unlike Hillary Clinton, whose time in the White House was dogged by scandal, Mrs. Bush has maintained an air of dignity and calm throughout. Even Laura's mother in law generated more controversy than Laura ever has when she inartfully used the "B" word in reference to Hillary Clinton.
In many ways Mrs. Bush has been a traditional First Lady. She's managed the duties of White House entertainment and state occasions flawlessly. Traveling with the President she has always been an asset and never a liability.
But beyond the traditional role, she's carved a unique niche for herself and worked tirelessly to promote a range of important causes and issues beyond those traditionally pursued by First Ladies in the past.
The White House has prepared a fact sheet highlighting the leadership of Laura Bush, but I didn't need a press release to remind me that Mrs. Bush has taken the lead on vital issues like promoting women's rights and women's health in the Middle East and Afganistan. She's made multiple trips to these areas of the world and also invited women's represenatives from this area to the White House to continue the vital work which they have begun.
On her own and with the President, Laura Bush has become an indefatigable globe trotter. The White House has a photo album of the First Lady's travels here which tells that story so much better than I could.
Aside from her public role, Mrs. Bush is first and foremost a wife and a mother. Her family has remained front and center throughout her time as First Lady.
The following are a collection of photos culled from the thousands taken these past eight years that illustrate for me the many reasons I will miss First Lady Laura Bush:
This official White House photograph released on May 11, 2008 shows US President George W. Bush and Mrs. Laura Bush (2L) with Mr. and Mrs. Hager (R & 2R) posing with the newly married couple, Jenna (3R and Henry Hager (3L) in front of the altar on Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, Texas.
Barney, Kitty and Miss Beazley pose for photos to publicize favorite recipes of the Bush Family, available online.
Mrs. Laura Bush applauds after pushing the button to flood the north front of the White House with a sea of pink, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, on Oct. 7, 2008. Bush addressed breast cancer survivors and advocates and members of the diplomatic corps just before the light display. The First Lady has encouraged worldwide efforts in preventing and curing a disease that is the leading cause of death in women. Each year more than 1.2 million people worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer. The United States is working with countries in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas to empower women to take control of their health, raise awareness about the importance of prevention and early diagnosis, and support collaborative research to find a breast cancer cure. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
Mrs. Laura Bush talks with women in the Pink Majlis Monday, Oct. 22, 2007, at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Mrs. Bush sought to elevate the awareness and importance of women's health in Muslim countries. Something which was hitherto taboo in many.
More photos from her 2007 Middle East trip here.
The First Lady is responsible for all the state dinners which occur at the White House in honor of visiting heads of state. Mrs. Bush has never failed to impress.
Mrs. Laura Bush discusses the motifs and entertainment for the official dinner honoring His Excellency Junichiro Koizumi, Prime Minister of Japan, in the State Dining Room during a media preview Thursday, June 29, 2006. "I think it's going to be a very fun evening," said Mrs. Bush. "Our orchestra is the Brian Setzer Orchestra. He'll play a lot of both the President's and Prime Minister Koizumi's favorites, and he's especially known for his guitar. So I think that will be terrific." White House photo by Shealah Craighead
And who can forget the incredible Christmas decorations that Mrs. Bush has been responsible for these past eight years?
2008: The Last Bush Christmas. More Here.Like the President, Mrs. Bush has taken time to meet and greet the ordinary average Americans who they encounter along the way. Mrs. Bush has always time for children.
Mrs. Laura Bush offers photos of the Bush family dogs, Scottish Terrier's Barney and Miss Beazley, and the cat, Willie, to a little girl before departing from Forbes Field in Topeka, Kan., on Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008. She had just greeted members of the military gathered to see her departure from the air field. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
The cable public affairs channel CSpan did an incredible series of programs Inside the White House in which we learned that Laura Bush was the prime driver behind a project to restore the Lincoln Bedroom on the residence floor of the White House to what a room from that period would look like as well as recovering and displaying Lincoln artifacts which were part of the room when it served as Abraham Lincoln's presidential office. A short one minute clip from the C-Span program permits you to see the result.
For more views inside many of the public and private rooms in the White House, the C Span layout page is highly recommended.
Another of the First Lady's projects was the acquisition with private funds of two new sets of China. The set of George W. Bush State China (pictured below) provides service for up to 320 people. Mrs. Bush describes the process of selecting the china here. A set of gold rimmed Magnolia china (shown here) for the White House residence was also received. Sadly, both came too late in the life of the Administration to be used. One hopes the Obama family will enjoy them.
The George W. Bush State China, unveiled Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009, at the White House by Mrs. Laura Bush, has a gold rim with a green basket-weave pattern and a historically-inspired gold eagle throughout the 14-piece place setting. The 320-place setting pattern will allow the White House to accommodate larger Rose Garden dinners and cover any breakage. The china was paid for by the White House Historical Association Acquisition Trust, a non-profit organization. White House photo by Shealah Craighead
First Ladies Former and Future
Mrs. Bush has spent a great deal of time working with other First Ladies on projects of mutual interest.
Laura Bush and former First Lady Nancy Reagan share a moment Thursday, May 12, 2005, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts during the unveiling of The Heart Truth’s First Ladies Red Dress Collection. White House photo by Krisanne Johnson
Mrs. Laura Bush welcomes former First Lady Lady Bird Johnson and her daughter, Lynda Johnson Robb, on their visit to the White House Oct. 19, 2005. Lady Bird passed away less than two years later. This was her last visit to the White House.
Mrs. Laura Bush and Mrs. Michelle Obama sit in the private residence of the White House Monday, Nov. 10, 2008, after the President-elect and Mrs. Obama arrived for a visit. White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian
A Note of Grace and Dignity that Will Be Missed
Mrs. Laura Bush shares a moment with Delilah Winters, 3, during a visit Friday, Oct. 3, 2008, to the Auchan Red Cross Shelter in Houston for those individuals and families who still need assistance as a result of Hurricane Ike. White House photo by Chris Greenberg
Mrs. Bush's official portrait now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery