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Laura Bush: Political Prisoner?

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Is Laura Bush a political prisoner?

If not, then why did she file an Opinion piece in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal headlined "A Burmese Birthday."

The dirge is a lament for Aung San Suu Kii, the deposed leader of Burma who has been held under house arrest in her home in Rangoon for 17 years.

I'm the first one to condemn the military junta in Burma, as we call it, or Myanmar as they (and the United Nations) call the country, for its systematic abuse of human rights. Since the late 1980s, Burma has been an outlaw state, periodically closing its borders, beating up its citizens and acting as poorly as any Asian regime since the Khmer Rouge.

But, unless Ms. Suu Kii is a librarian, why has Laura Bush suddenly gotten her llongyi (sarong) looped up like a lariat?

The state of the world this week is that everything is going to hell in a hand-basket: The Taliban are retaking territory in Afghanistan; Vladimir Putin is honing his Khrushchev-act; American troops continue to die; West Bank-Gaza boiled over; Pakistan is about to do a Three Mile Island and gasoline is costing me something like $3 a gallon.

The good news? Laura Bush feels for the deposed Burmese leader and supports the new political opposition.

Okay, it is probably a good time to dispatch the First Lady out with a feel-good message. Think back on other tough times: Rosalyn Carter at Habitat for Humanity when the Jimmy's fireplace cardigan chat failed; Nancy Reagan picking party dresses; Barbara Bush polishing the pearls and posing with the grandkids? I won't push this analogy too far. Nobody sent Hillary to fly solo when Bill was self destructing (although my recollection is that it did increase the number of Chelsea photo ops).

Why would anyone suggest something as counterintuitive as Burma?

Mrs. Bush could have introduced a new variation of her world-famous Sweet Potato Casserole recipe on Rachael Ray, read a nursery rhyme to the Cheney grandchild on Ellen or wave the opening flag at a NASCAR race or someplace that's all about noise?

But, diplomacy?

Burma has been an intractable international problem since the late 1980s.

This is how Mrs. Bush recounts the turmoil:

Today in Rangoon, Burma, a national hero celebrates her 62nd birthday -- alone. She is separated from her children abroad; when her husband was dying from cancer, he was forbidden to be near her. Her only well-wishers today are armed guards who hide her from the rest of the world.

Cue the violins.

Maybe she has been taken hostage by the neo-cons or the Texas-cons or whomever it is running the White House these days.

Look at this passage in her seventh paragraph:

"Gen. Than Shwe and his aging deputies are become obsolete. In their late 70s, they suffer from ill health..."

Maybe she's not a political prisoner, maybe she is delivering a Nancy Reagan-like warning to Dick Cheney to back off. Cheney, the architect of most of the administration's disasters, turned 66 in January. Nancy made sure VP Bush was marginalized; is Laura threatening the same?

Is she trying to tell Ms. Suu Kii and other women of a certain age that Laura Bush knows what it's like having old, obsolete men making all of her decisions? Or is this just more mush from an administration that has lost its way?

The situation in Myanmar is serious, but, from the best I can tell is no worse this week than last. When Hillary tried to think big thoughts out loud, she got smacked down.

Who would think that Mrs. Bush would come off looking any better trying her hand at foreign policy?

If someone can explain that to me perhaps they could also explain why gasoline is still about $3 a gallon.

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