President puts his better half to full use

President Bush has a standard quip when introducing fellow GOP candidates on the stump: "Like me, [he] had the good sense to marry above himself."

President Bush has a standard quip when introducing fellow GOP candidates on the stump: "Like me, [he] had the good sense to marry above himself."

Statistically impossible as it may be (no way that many decent women are willing to marry guys with "Congress hair"), it's a smart line. After all, Bush is at his most charming when he's self-deprecating, and the verbal curtsy to his kinder, gentler half humanizes a guy who occasionally comes off as, well, a bit hostile.

Which is why having Laura Bush stand in for her husband at this year's White House Correspondent's Association Dinner was such a slick move.

If you've never lived in DC, it's hard to explain just how huge this annual "let down your hair" event is. Bear in mind, this is a city so unfamiliar with nightlife it considered the loss of Ann Coulter a blow to its social scene, and even this one officially sanctioned night of relaxation requires metal detectors and a tux.

Traditionally, this night allows the President to say whatever he wants, as long as it's mostly funny and not offensive. Unfortunately, he broke both rules last year with an insensitive routine on his administration's fruitless - and deadly - search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

So with his approval ratings down this year, letting the first lady do the honors - joking mostly about how domestic and sleepy "Mr. Excitement" is - reminded Americans of the man they liked enough to elect twice (give or take an election or two).

The press loved it, too. Not even the tale of another woman's plight - Georgia's runaway bride - was as prominent on CNN.

If only she could do the State of the Union.

  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's news editor.

    Ratings:

    1. Clueless

    2. Ill-advised

    3. On the right track

    4. Savvy

    5. Ingenious

  • Have you registered with us yet?

    Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

    Register
    Already registered?
    Sign in

    Would you like to post a comment?

    Please Sign in or register.