George W. Bush and Laura Bush

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Q&A with the Bushes

Peggy Noonan for Ladies' Home Journal: Are there questions that in every interview you expect to be asked that nobody ever gets around to?

President Bush: Has being in the White House strengthened or weakened your marriage? The answer is strengthened it.

Noonan: That's so funny, because my first question was, Has being in the White House strengthened or weakened your marriage? [all laugh]

President Bush: Suuuure.

Noonan: So it has strengthened it?

President Bush: Yeah, it has. The marriage has never been better. Perhaps it's because of the pressures of the life we live. Perhaps it's because we have been through a lot as people given a lot of responsibility, and the circumstances of the presidency and the First Lady's office changed after September 11th and, therefore, we work closer together or we came together for a common purpose. There's a lot of reasons why. But it has never been better.

Noonan: You know, Jackie Kennedy said of her marriage to John F. Kennedy that the White House years were their best years. She thought it might be something about "living over the store."

Mrs. Bush: There's certainly that, for sure. We see each other every day, we can lunch together, have dinner together if we're both in town.

President Bush: We spend a lot of private time together. We entertain, but just not a lot. The other thing that's interesting about life in our White House is that we love our friends, and we constantly have friends, particularly from Texas, who are visiting, as you have friends come into your house. What a great joy to share our life with people we've known for years and years. And it's exciting to see their excitement.

Mrs. Bush: Tonight, for instance, we have one of the President's close friends from college coming with his wife and four children, and that will be really fun for us to show his kids the White House, have dinner here. And I'm sure they'll make it down to the bowling alley to bowl.

Noonan: So you're keeping it normal, keeping it real?

Mrs. Bush: I think that's right. George already had all the characteristics that everyone sees now, that I think people in America have seen since September 11th, and that is a resolve, and a strength and a discipline that he's had for years. It's been honed over the last two years.

Noonan: Mrs. Bush, when your husband is the leader of the free world, is it still possible for you to get irritated with him and yell at him over stuff --

President Bush: Yes.

Mrs. Bush: [laughs]

Noonan: -- like he didn't put the cover on the salsa jar?

President Bush: Yes, it is.

Mrs. Bush: [laughing] Well, I don't have to yell over those things.

President Bush: I'll answer that, yes. Absolutely. Probably more so.

Mrs. Bush: No, that's not really right.

President Bush: No?

Mrs. Bush: I mean, all the things that I might have fussed at him about before --

President Bush: Is this a candid, truthful interview?

Mrs. Bush: All the things that might have irritated me -- like not hanging up his towels -- I don't have to worry about anymore. Someone in the White House hangs up the towels.

Noonan: So what's left to snap about?

President Bush: She finds plenty of reasons. [teasing] Which is good, it's good. Lotta times people tell the president what he wants to hear. Laura tells me what I need to hear.

Continued on page 4:  A Strong Woman


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