Mrs Bush Jnr's "humour" has been the subject of wide media attention over
the past few days, and according to the below from NYT columnist John
Tierney "set a new standard". Tierney refrains from labelling the "new
standard" an all time low from a first lady, but her sexual innuendos were a
gross insult to the world's women - Lynette
The New York Times -- Tuesday May 3 2005
Laura Bush Talks Naughty
When King Agamemnon and his fleet of warships were becalmed in the Aegean
Sea, he ordered his wife to fetch their daughter so she could be sacrificed
to the gods. It worked, sort of. The winds picked up and blew the Greek
ships to triumph at Troy, although Agamemnon's wife did murder him later.
Republican presidents rely on a slightly less cruel sacrificial ritual for
their problems. Their wives appease the media gods with comedy routines.
Each spring, when politicians and reporters convene for formal dinners that
are supposed to be funny and are often compared to root canals, they talk
about Nancy Reagan's "Second Hand Clothes" the way fans talk about the 1927
Yankees. The Reagans' image for conspicuous consumption was never the same
after Mrs. Reagan put on rags in 1982 to sing a lampoon of her spending habits.
But on Saturday night, Laura Bush set a new standard. After interrupting her
husband and telling him to sit down, she did a stand-up routine that
included what was probably the first joke told in earshot of a president
that involved him and a horse's phallus.
Mrs. Bush called her husband Mr. Excitement for going to bed by 9 o'clock
and turning her into a "desperate housewife." She said that Lynne Cheney's
Secret Service code name became Dollar Bill after they both went to
Chippendales (where they ran into Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader
Ginsburg). Noting that Andover and Yale did not have "real strong ranching
programs," she said Mr. Bush had started his ranching career by trying to
milk a horse - a male horse.
Her timing had the audience howling, and the edgier lines had them gasping.
Jokes about pent-up sexual frustration from a prim librarian? With her
born-again husband sitting there and enjoying it? And cameras recording it
for Republican preachers who are determined to get sex out of schools and
For the mainly Democratic audience - this was a crowd of Washington
journalists and luminaries from Hollywood and Manhattan - it was an evening
of cognitive dissonance. How to reconcile this charming image on stage with
the Bush they love to bash?
Mrs. Bush's performance, and her husband's reaction, wasn't a shock to the
reporters who cover the White House. For years they have tried to convince
their friends outside Washington that Mr. Bush is actually not a
close-minded dolt, and Mrs. Bush is no Stepford Wife or Church Lady. Yes,
they're Texans who go to church and preach family values, but they're not
yahoos or religious zealots.
The coverage of Mrs. Bush's comic debut may change some minds, but for
devout Bush-bashers, it's much easier to stay the course. If you live in a
blue-state stronghold, a coastal city where you can go 24 hours without
meeting any Republicans, it's consoling to think of the red staters as an
alien bunch of straight-laced Bible thumpers.
Otherwise, how do you explain why they're Republican? Or answer the question
Democrats asked in astonishment when they saw Mr. Bush's vote totals: Who
are these people?
The favorite Democratic explanation is that the red staters are hicks who
have been blinded by righteousness, as Thomas Frank argues in "What's the
Matter With Kansas?" He laments that middle-class Kansans are so bamboozled
by moral issues like abortion and school prayer that they vote for
Republicans even though the Republican tax-cutting policies are against
But middle-class Americans don't simply cast ballots for Republicans. They
also vote with their feet, which is why blue states and old Democratic
cities are losing population to red states and Republican exurbs. People are
moving there precisely because of economic reasons - more jobs, affordable
houses, and the lower taxes offered by Republican politicians.
They're not moving for the churches, and they don't vote for Mr. Bush simply
because he reads the Bible every day. One of the main reasons they like him
is that he gets bashed so often. When Jon Stewart sneers at him, they
empathize because they're used to being sneered at themselves.
They know what their image is in Manhattan and Hollywood, and they know
they're not all that different from the Democrats in those places. They,
too, watch "Desperate Housewives," and they're not surprised to hear Laura
Bush doing Chippendales jokes. They've spent their own dollar bills there.
They don't see anything the matter with that - or with themselves.