It's a lengthy interview (at bottom), but there are a few highlights worth noting up front: Chris Wallace Fox News Sunday asked her why she had been cast as the traditional wife, and Bush was quite matter of fact.
Well, I think there are a lot of reasons. I think because I had had traditional jobs, I'd been a - women's traditional jobs, I'd been a teacher and a librarian, and then also because I was married to a conservative president. And so because of that, you know, that was just the view that people had of me. And it's sad, really, and sort of frustrating that our - that the press in general typecasts every woman that lives in the White House, the other first ladies, because always our first ladies have been a lot more interesting, a lot more complicated, than their box that they're sort of put in.
WALLACE: Do you think Michelle Obama has been typecast the same way you were?
BUSH: I don't think so, really. I think that she's - and maybe this is just her age, that she's younger. But I think she's been given the benefit of doubt more by the press than former first ladies.
Certainly, look at the way Barbara Bush - mother, grandmother - was typed as a grandmotherly, you know, type woman, when, in fact, Barbara Bush is as strong as horseradish and people really know that.
It's interesting that Bush seems to chafe against her typecasting even as she acknowledges that it wasn't necessarily inaccurate. Meanwhile, after a brief press flirtation with Michelle as angry black woman during the campaign, the wildly popular first lady can't be said to have been typecast one way or another — what does Princeton-and-Harvard-educated lawyer turned anti-obesity and military family advocate and style icon add up to?
In any case, when she says Michelle might have gotten a pass because she's younger, Wallace wants to know if what she really means is that it's because Obama's liberal:
WALLACE: Question: Was it liberal bias against a conservative Republican president?
BUSH: Yes, that's what I think it was. Absolutely. I think that's what it was. And it was not always. It was just - it was the same thing that we were just talking about, about this sort of flat view of who the first lady is. That wasn't just about me, but about other women.
And maybe part of that was a bias against women or a way to put women in a — in a special category or to be seen as the little women who are home baking the cookies, like the British tabloid said.
As much as we want to give Bush props for her progressive stances, she's got some thinking to do about the "flat view of who the first lady is" — or almost any other woman in public life. It's not exactly a function that exempts liberals. Just one with a special interest in putting women in boxes.
Laura Bush On First Lady News Coverage [Politico]