Former First Lady Laura Bush: 'I know who I am'
Like many of us, former First Lady Laura Bush told a real estate audience Tuesday that her life is compartmentalized into before Sept. 11, 2001, and after Sept. 11. Bush spoke about some of her experiences in the White House during a keynote luncheon speech to several thousand real estate industry professionals in Dallas this week for the Five Star Default Servicing Conference and Expo. In a decade that began in November of 2000 with George W. Bush becoming the "brush-clearing Zen master of Crawford, Texas" while "hanging chads" were counted in Florida, the former first lady's entrance into national politics was anything but ordinary. The former school librarian — who spent Jan. 20, 2001, through Jan. 20, 2009, at the White House — concentrated her early years on her trademark platform of literacy, drawing applause when she said, "I believe that every child should be able to read," and calling literacy "an essential foundation for democracy." She also talked about how her life, as well as that of former President George W. Bush and the whole nation changed after the terrorist attacks. From book festivals, she tackled heady issues like the plight of women in war-torn Afghanistan, and in more recent years, after leaving the White House, she's weighed in on more controversial subjects, including expressing her support for same-sex unions. Bush said that while she was bothered by negative and vindictive media reports about her family and her husband's administration during his time in office, she never let them get to her. "I know who I am, and I know who George is," she said. "This is America … and all of that blathering … is sacred music or the clanking gears of democracy." Bush said one of her most poignant memories during her eight years there was the first pitch of the World Series on Oct. 30, 2001, less than two months after the terrorist attacks. She was in Yankee Stadium where the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks were to play. Before the game, President Bush was talking with Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, who asked, "Are you going to throw from the mound?" Laura Bush recounted. When President Bush asked Jeter his opinion in the matter, Jeter replied, "Be a man, throw from the mound," but also gave a caveat, "Don't bounce it or they'll boo you." The day is permanently etched as one that should have been lighthearted but that still had a heavy, sad feel from the hundreds of police officers protecting the crowd and grieving their lost brethren, she said. But the moment also signified America's willingness to face up to its fear and stand proud, she said. Oh, and by the way, she added, George W. threw a strike. Write to Kerry Curry.