Picks and Pans Review: George and Laura
By Christopher Andersen
U.S. Presidents and their spouses have given us much to admire, but let's be honest: They almost never get voted most romantic couple. While previous First Families were scarred by extramarital indulgences, George W. Bush promised a return to decorum at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. According to biographer Andersen (The Day Diana Died), that's what he delivered.
Introduced by friends at a cookout in 1977, George, then 31, and future wife Laura, 30, were classic opposites-attract material. A bumptious frat boy badly in need of settling down, he saw respectability in the shy librarian who had never recovered from a car accident in which, as a teenager, she had tragically killed an ex-boyfriend. "The thing I like about him," Laura said of Dubya, "is that he made me laugh."
Andersen drills deep for psychodrama, making much of George's self-destructive drinking (which he ended in 1986), Laura's cigarette-puffing in moments of stress and the Bushes' fear that they might never conceive, which led them to visit an adoption agency before twins Jenna and Barbara were born in 1981. As portrayed here, the girls are bratty, defiantly uninterested in Dad's career. But mostly this portrait of a marriage (drawn with input from Laura's mother, Jenna Welch) betrays few flaws. Inspiring? Undoubtedly. A tad dull? That too. (Morrow, $25.95)
BOTTOM LINE: As scandalous as a Norman Rockwell