'No One Suffers More Than the President'

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, April 25, 2007; 1:00 PM

First Lady Laura Bush said this morning that "no one suffers more" than the president and she do when watching television footage of the carnage in Iraq -- potentially opening her up to charges that the first family is too removed from the anguish of American troops and their families.

The first lady was on NBC's Today show mostly to talk about the president's malaria initiative, but at one point Ann Curry showed some video from Iraq and asked Bush, in a hushed, solicitous tone: "You know the American people are suffering, watching --"

The first lady replied: "Oh, I know that, very much. And believe me, no one suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this. And certainly the commander in chief who has asked our military to go into harm's way --"

Curry: "What do you think the American public need to know about your husband --"

Laura Bush: "Well, I hope they do know the burden of worry that's on his shoulders every single day, for our troops. And I think they do. I mean I think if they don't, they're not seeing what the real responsibilities of our president are."

Curry: "It must be hard for you to watch him in this."

Bush: "Well it's hard, of course, it's absolutely hard."

Here's the complete interview; here's the seminal clip, on Americablog.

Was the first lady actually looking for sympathy?

To call attention -- even when prompted by an interviewer -- to the first family's supposed suffering when American troops are losing their lives and American families are losing their loved ones in a war of choice doesn't strike me as appropriate.

That's especially the case considering that there have been some concerns raised in the media before about whether the war is affecting Bush as emotionally as perhaps it should.

Bush talked about his personal pain in his December 20 news conference. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times asked him at the time:

CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company