SALT LAKE CITY
I and my readers had such fun with my provocative column suggesting a Nobel peace prize for President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair that I'm ready to try another: Laura Bush for president in 2008.
The Bush and Blair column drew as much reader reaction as any I can remember in many years of column writing.
At one end of the spectrum, Bush supporters thought it was a nifty idea. I never heard the broadcast, but many readers told me that Sean Hannity commented on the "idea from this feller in Salt Lake City" and said "the country needs more thinking like this."
By contrast, Bush critics thought it was a terrible idea. One of my perennial correspondents, who has routinely suggested that Bush is motivated by Satanic influences, said he was "truly sickened by the proposal." Others suggested I resign from clubs I don't even belong to.
Now to Laura. Her public opinion ratings are currently higher than the president's. Her performance at the Gridiron dinner in Washington proved she has even more comedic flair than her husband. And on her trip to the Middle East last week, she showed she has a mind of her own and can sometimes, with civility, take positions different from Mr. Bush.
Still not persuaded? Think the wife of a former president shouldn't, or couldn't, take a crack at running for the White House? Well Hillary Clinton is the wife of a former president and a lot of people think she's a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2008. What a contest that would be: Laura and Hillary. Choose one for first woman president. What a campaign Karl Rove would make.
Of course, Laura would have to elbow out Bill Frist, John McCain, and maybe even brother-in-law Jeb Bush, as well as a string of other aspiring males to get the Republican nomination. But I suspect that beneath that poised and charming exterior are nerves of steel and a canny political sense on issues of great import.
She certainly displayed cool nerve in the midst of rambunctious demonstrating crowds during her five-day Middle East visit. She also shrewdly pitched the president's agenda of freedom and democracy to the audience that could perhaps do more than any other to further that agenda throughout the Arab lands.