Laura Bush Hits the Campaign Trail

The Republican National Convention – covered by L’Humanité, journal of the French Communist Party! That would be something interesting. However, L’Humanité doesn’t publish often enough to provide day-by-day coverage, and in any case I doubt they would have the resources for that. I didn’t catch any sign of a L’Humanité correspondent present at last month’s Democratic National Convention, so the same is likely to be the case at the Republican convention that starts today.

That doesn’t mean that this leftist newspaper doesn’t have anything to say about the American presidential campaign. Writer “M.K.” has just had a piece published noting the emergence of First Lady Laura Bush into a more-active campaign role.

The reason for this is clear: the president’s re-election prospects now appear distinctly “iffy.” So that, while she maintains confidently that Bush’s “force, discipline, and concentration” makes him deserve a second presidential term, her task is to make “Americans see my husband as I see him myself.” And also to put herself on display to the electorate: as a “model mother, a woman entirely devoted to her family.”

The problem to be overcome here is that, by her own admission, politics is just not her “thing” (her truc). In fact, she likes to tell the story of how, when George W. proposed to her, her one condition in agreeing to marriage was that he would never make her give a speech. And M.K. notes how, in the 2000 presidential campaign, reporters were unsuccessful in eliciting from her any point-of-view on issues such as the death penalty or abortion; “I’m not the candidate here,” she would say. Surely something has got to give way here soon.

Perhaps that very process has gotten a start with the First Lady’s recent Time Magazine interview. (I’m afraid we’ll be waiting a long time for her interview with L’Humanité, even if conducted in English.) In that chat she dismisses the possibility that the anti-Kerry advertisements by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” were at all unfair to the Democratic candidate. This rather upset blogger Atrios, of “Eschaton” fame. But as for myself, I can’t quite get so up-in-arms about the remark – precisely because, to me, Laura Bush still lacks any credibility on such political issues (including most especially on stem-call research, about which she recently issued a pronouncement). To the extent this attitude is shared in America, this “coming out” of Laura Bush of which L’Humanité has taken note isn’t going to be good for much.

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