December 16, 2004
Howdy friends! What a year! Gerard Baker Imagine my delight when I received a personal Christmas round robin from Laura Bush EVERY YEAR, among the Christmas cards that flop on to my doormat, there are usually a couple of those nice round-robin letters from old friends around the world eager to tell me about their exciting year.
I rarely tire of reading about little Archie’s latest academic triumph or Alice’s prodigious progress with the harpsichord. But imagine my delight this year when, out of a card with a big picture of a tinsel-decorated Texas longhorn, there dropped a page of neat typescript. I am not sure if it was really intended for me or for one of the other six million people who received the White House Christmas greetings this year, but I thought it only right to do my duty and share it with you.
Crawford, Texas, December, 2004
Howdy friends! What a year! We spent most of 2004 wondering if we might have to move out of our lovely second home at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. The landlords could not seem to make up their minds whether we should stay. For a while they were thinking about kicking us out and letting in some dreadful man with a booming voice and suspiciously big hair, along with his unhinged foreign wife. He kept banging on about what a hero he had been in Vietnam and saying mean things about George’s brave and dangerous years in the Texas Air National Guard.
Naturally we were appalled at the idea of having to move. We have done a lot since we have been there — redecorated the Red Room; built a new kennel complex for Barney and Spot (God rest his soul); engineered democratic transformation throughout the Middle East, the usual stuff.
And what with George Sr and Barbara having spent four very happy years here and Jeb hinting that he is quite keen to move away from Florida some time, we have come to regard it as family property In the end, fortunately, the landlords seemed to find the other couple completely insufferable and virtually begged us to stay on.
The good news is we got to travel a lot this year, The bad news — it was nearly always to Ohio. If we never see Canton again it will be too soon. What the hell is a buckeye anyway?
We managed to get overseas once or twice. We had a couple of days in France in June when we visited with our European friends. Usual story. They all treated George like the retarded cousin at the dinner table, patiently explaining the difference between Iraq and Iran and using their hands a lot while talking about oil prices.
The year started off really badly. Some of the boys in Iraq took some embarrassing pictures of their friends having a bit of harmless fun with the locals and the whole thing snowballed Then there seemed to be lots of nasty books and films — all about the Bush family.
We had plenty of visitors to cheer us up, though. Our dear friend Tony from England was here lots. I sometimes think he prefers being in Washington to spending his time with his own folks in London. He certainly complains a lot to George about the neighbours.
On the downside, Monsieur Frou-Frou Frenchie, the big patronising snob from Paris was over to lecture us for a couple days. We enclose a nice picture of George and Dick playfully pinning him to the floor of the Oval Office in a headlock.
The girls have finally left college and started to look for real jobs. For some reason they don’t show much interest at all in the family business, despite George and Grandpa’s best efforts to persuade them otherwise. They just sit around all day drinking large mugs of iced tea and giggling helplessly about the latest episode of Desperate Housewives. Speaking of Desperate Housewives we haven’t seen much of Hillary, the woman who used to live at 1600. Wonder what she has been up to?
In November we had a chance to clean house a bit. We finally got rid of our very nice but completely ineffectual manservant, Colin. The “General”, as George called him, was always cheerful, but he got on our nerves with his constant worrying about what the neighbours think. Condi, George’s very capable assistant for the past four years, is going to be a vast improvement. The local minister, John “the Baptist” Ashcroft has gone too, with a bit of help from us! We just started to find him a bit creepy with all his warnings about the Apocalypse.
Ever since we saw what happened to that poor man in Ukraine, George has been completely off his food. At last we have found a food taster. He is a whale of a man who just loves to eat, and frankly he could probably do with a little bit of dioxin in the soup. Michael Moore starts next week.
For those of you who wondered, Uncle Dick and Uncle Rummy are in fine form. Dick still tucks us into bed most nights with stories of impending nuclear annihilation and the urgent need for pre-emptive military strikes. Rummy is still working hard on “transformation” over at the Pentagon, which seems to involve bolting missing pieces on to Humvees before they go off to battle.
Next year promises to bring new faces and new places. We have got some big plans that we can’t talk too much about right now, but we can say that they involve travel to interesting spots. Think Iran and North Korea! Well, must run. Karl’s got another load of wealthy friends for us to meet before the big party next month.
Wishing you a happy and peaceful Christmas, and a democratic new year.
Laura, George and the Twins