Wednesday, September 08, 2004

You've probably heard that Kitty Kelley's forthcoming book on the Bush family says that George W. snorted cocaine at Camp David more than once while his father was president. Fun stuff -- but I'm surprised we've heard so little about another drug allegation in the book, as reported by The Independent:

Perhaps the book's most improbable claim is that Laura Bush, now the model of primness and propriety as First Lady, both sold and smoked marijuana during her days at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Improbable? Is it really? When I was a lad, pot use certainly wasn't limited to the extroverted. Nor was pot selling, at least to friends.

Then there's The Incident That Shall Not Be Mentioned from Laura's high school years -- an incident that would have been the subject of a multi-year FBI investigation if it had happened to a high schooler named Hillary Rodham, but has disappeared down the memory hole in the present circumstances:

The accident occurred Nov. 5, 1963, when Bush was talking to a friend while she was driving to a party in her hometown of Midland, Texas, the New York Post reported.

At an intersection, she apparently failed to see her boyfriend, Mike Douglas, driving south. The vehicles collided and Douglas was thrown from his doorless Jeep, breaking his neck. He died instantly.

So let's review, shall we? Laura killed a man -- by remarkable coincidence, her boyfriend -- while driving as a teenager. A few years later she agreed to spend the rest of her life on earth with a man who drank to excess.

Why do we assume, then, that she's always been straitlaced and abstemious?

This isn't just idle gossip. I think it matters.

In recent months Laura has become an extremely important part of her husband's reelection bid. Highly visible, cool and self-possessed in all her interviews, she's presenting herself as ballast for a man who needs to persuade voters that he isn't overly inclined to go off on dangerous tangents. She's W's surrogate mother, his female superego. (Cheney, of course, is Dad.)

Too many people are falling for this. Even Tony Kushner seems to have concluded that Laura's still waters run deep. A year ago, Kushner published part of a work-in-progress about Laura that ridiculed her as naively blind to the moral underpinnings of the literature she praises; now, by contrast, he's written a new scene in which a tart-tongued Laura twits a naive liberal character (named Tony Kushner) for spinelessness -- a contrast to the flight-suit manliness of her husband:

LAURA BUSH: You're afraid of George because, because, well first off you hate him because he does things, I mean actually likely to act, to act on his convictions — it's not his convictions, it's that he does stuff about it.

TONY KUSHNER: Well, no, it's that he does stuff about it and also his convictions are really, really hideous, his ideological—

LAURA BUSH: Y'all can't stand his, well let's call it vividness. For people like you, a bookish pallor is a precious badge of distinction, "I have read enough to be muddleheaded enough to be 100 percent entirely immobilized!"

Screw that. For no reason other than shrewd packaging, we made an American heroine out of one woman who had the bad judgment to marry a worthless SOB named George Bush. If images of Pothead Laura prevent us from making that mistake again, and make a few swing voters think twice about the nonsense they're fed every day about the Bush family's saintliness, then that's all to the good.

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