Remember when President Bush was blowing off steam one day about something that had been in the news, and he said he never even read the papers anymore? That became the official White House line until his wife told a reporter that, of course, the president read the newspaper, and he watched television, too.
Then last week, after the White House Press Office refused to admit there had been a foul-up when the Secret Service failed to notify the president that the Capitol and White House were being evacuated because of a security scare, it was again the first lady who set the record straight. The president's staff still won't concede a mistake was made, but Mrs. Bush told reporters, `Yes, the president should have been notified.'
And after the White House spinners unloaded on Newsweek for publishing what proved to be a false report about desecrating the Koran, it was Mrs. Bush again who said the report was irresponsible, but Newsweek alone shouldn't be blamed for the riots that followed.
The president has surrounded himself with a lot of smart public-relations advisers who give him all kinds of advice about dealing with the press. But Mrs. Bush has developed a strategy of her own: When reporters ask her questions, she just answers them, truthfully, as far as I can tell.
Memo to the White House staff: This is a different approach, to be sure. But you may want to check it out. It sure seems to work for her.
By Bob Schieffer