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View Full Version : The Kindest Piece Ever Written By Maureen Dowd


revefsreleets
07-10-2008, 03:47 PM
And it's about Laura Bush! Sure sign of the impending apocalypse! What's next, kind words for Dick Cheney?

http://www.ohio.com/editorial/commentary/24304229.html?page=all&c=y

An ordinary girl in an extraordinary world
A well-spun yarn about Laura
By Maureen Dowd


Published on Thursday, Jul 10, 2008

By Maureen Dowd
New York Times


WASHINGTON: The headline on the conservative blog, Townhall, stormed: ''Book to Smear First Lady's Sex Life.''
Radar magazine proclaimed: ''On the gossip front, the novel doesn't disappoint,'' adding that its steamy and lurid scenes were ''sure to send the White House into a fury.''
MSNBC.com called the sex scenes ''too graphic to reprint.''
The cover of this fantasy version of Laura Bush's life, American Wife, is alluring, a woman's shapely figure in a white gown, with white opera gloves and a diamond ring.
The author is not Anonymous, or Eponymous or Pseudonymous, yet there is the air of a Primary Colors stunt about this political roman a clef, which is timed to come out during the Republican convention.
Still, it's not a salacious tell-all, and words like ''smear'' and ''gossip'' are misplaced. It's a well-researched book that imagines what lies behind that placid facade of the first lady, a women's book-club novel by a young woman named Curtis Sittenfeld who has written two best sellers, including Prep.
It's the sort of novel Laura Bush might curl up with in the White House solarium if it were not about Laura Bush. It would be interesting to hear how that lover of fiction feels about being the subject of fiction.
You don't get any fingerprints from Laura Bush. When you look into her eyes during an interview, you feel as if she is there somewhere, deep inside herself, miles and miles down. But though she is lovely and gracious, the main vibe she gives off is an emphatic: ''I am not going to show you anything.''
Once in a while, you'll read about something she's said like that legendary line she uttered to her future in-laws (''I read, I smoke, and I admire'') that makes you realize how intriguing it would be to see the real Laura, with her guard down and outside of the Kabuki-like job of first lady.
But there's only one vessel that can ferry you past Laura's moat, and that's fiction. Sittenfeld has creatively applied her crayons to all the ambiguous blanks in the coloring book.
It isn't an invasion of privacy. Art has always been made out of the stories of kings and queens. Fictionalizing historical figures is fine. Fantasies about public figures are inevitable.
The question of an ostensibly ordinary girl who lives through extraordinary things will always be gripping. For Madame Bovary, Flaubert drew on the real-life story of Delphine Delamare, a village doctor's unhappy wife who had lots of lovers and a premature and humiliating death.
And the story of the quiet, pretty librarian who could suffer the fate of being an old maid if not rescued by the dashing hero is a favorite American narrative from The Music Man to It's a Wonderful Life.
During her husband's presidential runs, many reporters shied away from asking Laura Bush about the freakishly horrible accident she had when she was 17. Hurrying to a party, she ran a stop sign in Midland, Texas, one night on Farm Road 868 and ran into a car that turned out to be driven by the golden boy of her high school, a cute star athlete she was believed to have had a crush on. He died instantly of a broken neck.
As Ann Gerhart wrote in The Perfect Wife: ''Killing another person was a tragic, shattering error for a girl to make at 17. It was one of those hinges in a life, a moment when destiny shuddered, then lurched in a new direction. In its aftermath, Laura became more cautious and less spontaneous, more inclined to be compassionate.''
Laura has rarely spoken publicly about it, except to say in 2000 that ''it was crushing . . . for the family involved and for me as well.''
How could a novelist not be drawn to such a tragedy? It's easy to imagine all that guilt, shame, conscience, fear, sex and nightmares in the hands of Eudora Welty or Larry McMurtry.
Sittenfeld was not out to sensationalize but sympathize. The portraits of Laura and W. known as Alice and Charlie Blackwell here are trenchant and make you like them more. The Barbara Bush doppelganger, dubbed ''Maj,'' for Her Majesty, is as tart as ever. ''When she turned her attention to me,'' Alice says of Maj, ''I always felt, and not in a positive way, as if we were the only ones in the room and total vigilance were required.''
In 2004, Sittenfeld wrote a Salon piece confessing that despite her ''flaming'' liberalism and disdain for W.'s policies, she loved Laura Bush. She called the first lady ''an easy heroine to root for smart and nice, but just flawed enough (she still sneaks cigarettes!) to remain likable.'' She identified with Laura's omnivorous fiction reading.
In the novel, Alice, tormented by the choices her husband has made about the war that she's stood by, blurts out to a grieving father that she thinks the war should end. In life, we can only wonder how Laura feels.

Dowd is a New York Times columnist.

Vis
07-10-2008, 04:08 PM
Dick Cheney is in Wisconsin where he now feels safe. (obscure yet topical reference)

Hines0wnz
10-11-2008, 12:13 AM
I still dont care for Dowd. Took her nearly 8 years to write anything decent about the Bush's? Please.......she can feed that bologna somewhere else. :blah:

revefsreleets
10-11-2008, 09:10 AM
Oh, she's an evil bitter person...there's no doubt about that. I only posted this because it's probably the first piece I've ever seen her write that wasn't filled with vitriolic poison...