Oprah Talks to Laura Bush
Oprah: But do you feel you must define your role for yourself?
Laura: Of course. I have to do what I'm comfortable doing. That's why I'm planning to work on education, which is where my expertise is.
Oprah: I think it's ridiculous when some compare you to Hillary—you can only be who you are. But when people ask, "Will you be like Hillary?" what they're really asking is "What kind of first lady will you be?"
Laura: I am going to be Laura Bush. Every first lady has been different, and she has used her passion for the benefit of our nation. For example, Lady Bird Johnson made a huge contribution to our country through her love of nature—the Highway Beautification Act was really the start of the environmental movement. That's pretty radical, but at the time, I'm sure people thought, "Oh, she's the first lady who likes flowers."
Oprah: I think I might have been one of those people! You know, times have changed since Jackie Kennedy was sitting in this same room—now anything you do or don't do can be blown out of proportion. Does that affect the way you live?
Laura: Not much. I'd probably be outside more if the scrutiny weren't there. It's hard to even go for a walk. At the Governor's Mansion in Austin, I was able to just walk out the front door and down the block to the river. I'll still be able to do that when we go to Camp David or when we're at our ranch.
Oprah: Do you feel a responsibility to bring a certain kind of spirit to your position?
Laura: People expect those who live in the White House to treat it with dignity—and to be dignified themselves. People also think entertaining here should be elegant, so I feel a responsibility for that.
Oprah: I've heard that you never had a black-tie dinner in the Governor's Mansion. Is that true?
Laura: That's true. The president didn't really like to dress in black tie. Because the Governor's Mansion wasn't that big, we were usually under a tent outside, hosting something more along the lines of...okay, I'll admit it: a Texas barbecue!
Oprah: So what's your favorite food?
Oprah: When you first move into the White House, do you wake up and think, "I can order anything to eat—this is all mine"?
Laura: I don't think you ever feel like, "This is all mine". You think, "This is our country's and I'm fortunate to have the chance to live here." It's like a dream.
Oprah: Knowing that your husband's father was a huge political figure, did you ever think you'd end up in the White House?
Laura: No. But when we married in 1977, we didn't know his dad would eventually be the vice president and then the president.