February 7, 2004

"dripping with condescension"

The Washington Post has had the honesty to publish a damning review of a book by one of their own writers, The Perfect Wife, a book about Laura Bush by Ann Gerhart. (I couldn't find a link--the quote is from an article by Noemi Emory.)

...Does the phrase "dripping with condescension" strike you as excessive? It's not. It describes accurately the slant Gerhart brings to her evocations both of the South and of Texas, and of the 1950s and '60s, in which Laura grew up...

...Her take on the place is that Texas is a strange asylum populated by childlike folk whom she describes in a sort of white-darky dialect that is every bit as offensive as the original version. Here she is describing Laura's mother, Jenna Welch: "She is much loved, and she gets around quite ably, Jenna does, for a woman born in l9l9." Does she? Lawsy me!

Laura grows up, and one day leaves Texas, but to Gerhart, things only get worse. She marries--the horror--a Republican politician, whose loathsome ideas she is forced to support, if just indirectly, by backing him. Gerhart's view of Bush seems expressed best by someone she describes as a "civic leader" in Austin: "George is a very likeable man if you divorce him from his politics," it being a given that these are uncivilized.

As Gerhart comes to believe that Laura is in fact an intelligent, cultured, sensitive woman, she reads into Laura the beliefs Gerhart thinks are the only ones possible for cultured and sensitive women, which is to say, her own....

(via Betsy Newmark)

Posted by John Weidner at February 7, 2004 9:24 AM
Weblog by John Weidner