Laura Bush’s Advice for the Future First Gentleman

The former first lady thinks a first gentleman might have it easier than most spouses.

National Journal
Jack Fitzpatrick
See more stories about...
Jack Fitzpatrick
Jan. 30, 2014, 11:51 a.m.

{{third­PartyEmbed type:you­tube id:Tp­KhvM3nJ-Y}}

Laura Bush has ad­vice for a fu­ture first gen­tle­man, who­ever he may be: “Stand back and be quiet.”

That ad­vice may not be rel­ev­ant to the front-run­ner for first first gen­tle­man, Bill Clin­ton, an already-talk­at­ive former pres­id­ent. But Bush cri­tiqued the way the pub­lic views first ladies and the­or­ized that a first gen­tle­man might not face the same pres­sure, in an in­ter­view with C-SPAN Thursday.

Bush was crit­ic­al of the pub­lic’s “glam­or­ous” view of the first lady and said they are too ob­sessed with the shal­low parts of the role.

“Maybe we should be that way about the first gen­tle­man also, and really cri­tique the way they look all the time — their choice of tie or their hair­style or whatever,” Bush said. “Or maybe their weight.”

The bright side, Bush said, is that a first gen­tle­man might change some of those stand­ards. For ex­ample, a man might be less likely to quit his job after his wife is elec­ted, Bush said, which could set a pre­ced­ent for first ladies to keep work­ing after mov­ing in­to the White House. When asked if the first lady should re­ceive a salary, Bush said no, but that the more im­port­ant ques­tion is wheth­er she should give up her ca­reer.

“Cer­tainly a first gen­tle­man might con­tin­ue to work at whatever he did, if he was a law­yer or whatever,” she said.

Clearly, Bush was not as­sum­ing that the Clin­tons would end up back in the White House, or re­fer­ring to any spe­cif­ic can­did­ates.

In ad­di­tion to spec­u­lat­ing on fu­ture pres­id­en­tial spouses, Bush re­flec­ted on her own time in the White House, say­ing one of her biggest mo­ments was giv­ing the pres­id­en­tial ra­dio ad­dress after the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks, in which she fo­cused on the Taliban’s treat­ment of wo­men in Afgh­anistan. That, she said, was the mo­ment she real­ized how much in­flu­ence a first lady can have.

But much of be­ing a first lady is less ex­cit­ing than it seems, Bush said.

“It’s ac­tu­ally a very nor­mal life up­stairs on those two floors that are the White House res­id­ence,” she said. “First ladies prob­ably — and I know I did — ac­tu­ally lie on the couch and read a book.”

What We're Following See More »
Trump Won’t Debate Sanders After All
1 days ago

Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

UAW: Time to Unite Behind Hillary
2 days ago

"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.

Trump Clinches Enough Delegates for the Nomination
2 days ago

"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."

Trump/Sanders Debate Before California Primary?
3 days ago
California: It’s Not Over Yet
3 days ago

"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.