For eight years, former first lady Laura Bush led a privileged but public life as hostess-in-chief of the biggest fishbowl in the country, the White House. Despite winning the admiration of most Americans, she endured the constant criticism of her husband, who was judged harshly for his handling of the war in Iraq and the economy. On Jan. 19, 2009, as she and former President George W. Bush climbed aboard Air Force One following Barack Obama’s inauguration, she stepped back into a much more private chapter of her life–and she hasn’t looked back since.
With the release of her memoir, “Spoken from the Heart,” Laura Bush granted Ladies Home Journal magazine editor-in-chief Sally Lee a glimpse into the new private world she has forged for herself in Dallas. In her first interview since her husband left office, Laura Bush discusses everything from her most trying days in the White House to what the future holds for her and her family. The exclusive chat, published in the June 2010 issue, includes excerpts from the former first lady’s book and a photo shoot with daughters Jenna and Barbara.
When I first saw the cover, I wasn’t particularly eager to delve inside. While I respect Laura Bush and appreciate the attention she has brought to literacy in America, she has been in the public eye for decades and her story has been covered from every angle. I doubted that I could learn anything new or earth-shattering about her. But as I started reading, I was pleasantly surprised. Here are five insights I gained about the former first lady from picking up this article:
1. She is one committed woman. Laura Bush has always been quick to jump to her husband’s defense when confronted with criticism about him, but her faith in him goes even deeper. Even during his struggles with alcohol in the early days of their marriage, she never considered leaving him. “We were two people who did not have divorce in our DNA,” she says.
2. She is a homebody at heart. Despite leading a glamorous life that has taken her across the country and around the world, home is her haven–and it always has been. As a child, she recalls feeling “my greatest sense of contentment lying on the couch in our den. I had no desire to stray too far from home….”
3. Even she had to adjust to her mother-in-law. The tart-tongued Barbara Bush used to scare the bejesus out of her soft-spoken daughter-in-law. It wasn’t until years later that “Bar and I came to know and love each other,” Laura Bush admits.
4. She always wanted more children. Though she was thrilled to give birth to twins late in life, Laura Bush longed for more babies and is still haunted by the memory of her infertility struggles. “My heart was deep enough for more,” she says. “There remained that twinge of what might have been.”
5. She tells it like it is. From her polite but pointed barbs about her husband’s critics (she’s talking to you, President Obama) to her thoughts on a television star who bragged about stealing towels from White House restrooms, Laura Bush doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind. It’s the way she does it–with a kind candor–that makes readers want to stand up, cheer and maybe even throw out a “You go, girl!” or two.
So, what did you think of the interview? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.