It's a long way from the broad expanse of Texas to the lush forests of Burma, from the boots-and-broncos rodeo in nearby Waco to the bloody crackdown against barefoot monks in Rangoon. Yet that troubled faraway land somehow has gotten under the skin of a former librarian from the Lone Star State and vaulted toward the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda. Laura Bush, while vacationing at the family ranch here in August, was going through news clippings sent by her staff back in Washington when she read about the burgeoning protests and arrests in Burma. She grew alarmed enough that, as soon as she got back to Washington, she picked up the telephone and called the U.N. secretary general. And ever since, she has waged a campaign to rally world pressure on Burma's military junta. For the first lady, Burma is providing a way to make her voice heard as she looks for ways to make her mark in her last 15 months in the White House. "When you step into the second term, you leave campaigns behind you . . . so it does free up your time," said McBride, her chief aide. "And you begin to see how fast the time moves, and you want to use it as much as possible." And as Bush does, analysts- said, she will redefine her legacy. "She's not quite as faint-hearted and removed from public policy as her current image would suggest," said Bruce Buchanan, who has followed her as a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. "This is the biggest example of it so far and, if it makes any difference, it might not be the last."
The Washington Post
First Lady's Influence Goes Global (Oct. 15)