Laura Bush takes on stronger role in president’s final year

For years she stayed mostly out of the spotlight, standing in the background, strong and silent, always graceful and elegant, every hair in its proper place.First lady Laura Bush has established herself as a woman of good repute, and although her approval rating has remained consistently high, the public expects to see little of her and hear even less.

But with the days of her husband’s presidency waning, as well as his approval ratings, Laura Bush has moved into the foreground, taking on issues more visibly than ever before.

Throughout George Bush’s presidency, she has blossomed – and she has saved the best for last.

In recent weeks, she has taken on diplomatic issues, not a normal duty for this first lady.

She called the secretary-general of the United Nations to condemn the suppression of the pro-democracy demonstrations against the junta in Myanmar earlier last month and has positioned herself as the American spokesman on the issue.

For some, this action was a surprise.

For Laura Bush, that was only a beginning.

Recently, she toured the Middle East, promoting women’s health, especially breast cancer awareness, in a place where discussing such an issue used to be taboo.

The first lady is not only pushing her agenda abroad, but also at home as she subtly lobbies for the renewal of No Child Left Behind in a way that only a first lady could do.

At a time when her husband is the least popular, it seems as if the first lady knew exactly when to step forward and steal the show, while still supporting the president.

People now not only know her as the strength behind the president, but also as a driving force of international goodwill and diplomatic efforts.

She’s slowly restoring faith in the White House, making up for the credibility her husband currently lacks.

She’s just the kind of first lady America needs during these ups and downs of the Bush presidency.

President Bush’s legacy remains to be determined. But hers will surely be one of dignity and goodness.

Jillian Hutchison is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Omaha, Neb.