Monday, February 17, 2020
Feb. 17, 2020

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Mrs. Bush: Quite the class act!

By , Columbian Editor
2 Photos
Lou Brancaccio
Lou Brancaccio Photo Gallery

So I snuck into the Laura Bush library event earlier this week and had a great time.

Now let’s be honest here, sneaking into an event where there are about as many Secret Service types as there are books in the library is no easy task.

But, hey, I know people who know people. And I hoped to speak to the former first lady before she delivered her talk to the sold-out crowd.

So I begin to work the room where a private reception was being held for her, but I run into this guy in a suit, with a buzz cut and a thingy in his ear.

Now people who know me know I’m a bit of a Chatty Cathy. And I figure if I can get into an extended conversation with this guy who has a thingy in his ear, who knows, right?

He’d be all like “Hey, nice guy,” then I’d be all like, “Let’s get Laura over here.” We’d end up in a back room, drinkin’ Pepsi and eatin’ beef jerky and talkin’ about life after the White House.

So the conversation begins.

Me: “You Secret Service?”

Guy with thingy in his ear: “Yes.”

o o o

OK, so that didn’t go quite as I had planned, so I go to Plan B. Plan B basically is to wait in line and see if she has a minute for me.

She did!

Me: “Hi, I’m the editor of the local newspaper.”

Laura Bush: “Is that The Columbian? I read that in my room today.”

Me: Yes, The Columbian. So, what do you think of the media?”

Laura Bush: “I have a line in my talk tonight about that.”

Me: “OK, I’ll wait. … Hey, what do you miss most about the White House?”

Laura Bush: “The chef.”

Me: “What? You’re not a great cook?”

Laura Bush: “I’m out of practice.”

Hey, it wasn’t over a Pepsi in a back room, but I’ll take it!

o o o

The main event was about to happen.

Mrs. Bush was a wonderful speaker. As she was updating the audience on her family, she mentioned that one of her twin daughters, Jenna Bush Hager, is a news correspondent for NBC’s “Today” show.

“Continuing our warm relations with the media,” she deadpanned.

The audience roared!

Mrs. Bush paused for a second, then coyly smiled. She looked at me and pointed.

“I said that for you.”

o o o

Make no mistake; Mrs. Bush is an extremely engaging person. I’ve sat through more than my fair share of these kinds of things, and she is as engaging as they come.

It’s also evident she’s extremely intelligent, has an infectious dry sense of humor and understands the importance of pacing when she speaks to a crowd. Much like a singer who has to appreciate cadence, a great speaker has to appreciate pacing.

And, without hesitation, I’d say she is a great speaker.

o o o

Let’s also not forget that Mrs. Bush was here to promote our libraries and reading.

These are two hugely important features of any thriving community. And what’s great about this event — the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation’s Authors & Illustrators dinner and silent auction — is that those who were there chose to help the cause.

And if Mrs. Bush comes back? Hey, the beef jerky is on me!

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505 or

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