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
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 Leads Tightly Packed Group Vying for Second
13 hours ago

In one of the last surveys before New Hampshirites actually vote, a Monmouth poll has Donald Trump with a big edge on the Republican field. His 30% leads a cluster of rivals in the low-to-mid teens, including John Kasich (14%), Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio (13% each) and Ted Cruz (12%). On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 52%-42%.

GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
11 hours ago

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Bill Goes on the Offensive Against Bernie
11 hours ago

“Bill Clinton uncorked an extended attack on … Bernie Sanders on Sunday, harshly criticizing” the senator “and his supporters for what he described as inaccurate and ‘sexist’ attacks on Hillary Clinton. ‘When you’re making a revolution you can’t be too careful with the facts,’ … Clinton said. … The former president … portrayed his wife’s opponent … as hypocritical, ‘hermetically sealed’ and dishonest.”

Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
7 hours ago

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”