September 7th, 2009
04:36 PM ET
5 years ago

Laura Bush defends Obama school speech

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former first lady Laura Bush is defending President Obama's decision to address the nation's school children, telling CNN Monday that it is "really important for everyone to respect the President of the United States."

"I think that there is a place for the President of the United States to talk to school children and encourage school children, and I think there are a lot of people that should do the same," she told CNN's Zain Verjee, in an interview set to air Monday on The Situation Room. "And that is encourage their own children to stay in school and to study hard and to try to achieve the dream that they have."

The former first lady said she believed criticism of the speech had arisen because of the accompanying lesson plans. If parents are opposed to the address, said Bush, "That's their right. You know that certainly is the right of parents to choose what they want their children to hear in school… (But) I think it's also really important for everyone to respect the President of the United States."

Does she think it's fair to criticize Obama, as some have, by labeling him a socialist? "I'd have no idea whether it's fair, do you think I thought it was fair when President Bush was criticized - not really. So, I guess not," she responded.

Bush said that she thought "really safe congressional districts" had contributed to political polarization. "That's just a fact of life in American politics and …I'm sure President Obama didn't expect it to be that way. But you know - it is that way, and I think all of us need to do what we can to come together on issues."

The former first lady added that she thought both Obama and her successor, Michelle Obama, had done good jobs since moving into the White House.

But she also said former Vice President Cheney, who has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration's security policy, "has every right to speak out, and I appreciate that he is defending the Bush administration and his administration."

"But George as a former president chose not to speak out," she added. "He thinks the president deserves the respect and the no second-guessing on the part of the former president… he didn't like it when he was criticized by former presidents and that's what he has chosen to do."

She said her husband and his former vice president still speak "occasionally."

Both Bushes have been working on their memoirs. Bush said her husband has also spent a lot of time mountain biking.

Related: Laura Bush praises Obama, bemoans excessive partisanship


Filed under: Laura Bush
soundoff (197 Responses)
  1. brian

    Mrs. Bush has always been a class act and,even though I'm a Democrat, I'd be hard pressed not to vote for her if she ever ran for office. Again, she's a real class act and not afraid to stand for what's right for the country.

    September 7, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. cathyinaz

    Way to go Mrs Bush. At last someone within the GOP with an ounce of sense. Those of you who are so upset about the President taking time to address students as most of them head back to school should re-read the speechs given by Pres. Regan, GHW Bush, G. Bush II and Clinton. Pres. Regan's were the most politically charged but NO ONE KEPT THEIR KIDS HOME FROM SCHOOL. They listened to what they all had to say.
    I lived for quite some time in MN and am appalled by Gov. Pawlenty's remarks. SHAME SHAME SHAME!

    September 7, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. S M R

    Thank You Laura Bush for your support of positive reinforcement for our school Children.

    September 7, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Ruty

    Well, finally a smart republican. I thought it would never happen.

    September 7, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Frank, Xenia, Ohio

    Laura Bush is a class act.

    I never voted for her husband, and, given the chance to do it over, I still wouldn't vote for him. But, she was a good first lady, and now a good former first lady.

    Shame on those people that criticized President Obama for wanting to address the nation's school children.

    September 7, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  6. DCW

    Where was all this civility when Bush was in office. The left was burning mannequins of Bush in San Francisco. Calling him Hitler and anything else evil they could think of. I believe Obama has the right to address the kids, but also believe the parents have a right to keep the kids out if they choose.
    Looking at "Proud Americans" post, I rest my case. If someone calls Obama and Idiot the world comes to an end. He is definitely not the brightest bulb in the box after all.

    September 7, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Tomkat

    The man is simply trying to convey a message that we all know is the truth, American children need to do better in school. Parents need to do better by their children. Teachers need to do better by their students. Today's students are tomorrow's leaders, give them the tools to keep America innovative and on the forefront.

    Republicans are once again on this "scare" tactic that now President Obama is becoming a dictator by "throwing opponents in jail, and oppressing Americans with government." Dick Cheney and most of the Bush Administration need to behind bars, these are *very* dangerous people with *very* dangerous ideals. President Obama is trying to clean up several very large messes left by Laura Bush's husbands administration. I take FOX news' talking heads about as serious as I do championship wrestling; it's entertaining, but it's not reality.

    If he is doing such a bad job, take a look at your 401k since Pres. Obama took office. The stock market has gone up nearly 3000 points in less than a year because of investor confidence, the stock market dropped around 8000 points in the final 18 months of the Bush fiasco. Give the new President some credit, the hole that Pres. Obama inherited is a deep one, he is trying.

    Thank you Mrs. Bush for recognizing the efforts of Barack Obama.

    -Tomkat-

    September 7, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. Lowcountry Liberal

    Thank you, lovely lady. Perhaps this is what some Republicans are truly afraid of: That their children will learn from the President how to engage in civil discourse rather than screaming like crazy people.

    September 7, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Nea

    I like her as a Lady, all this confusion over the President need to stop as i said before if you dont like whats going on in Washinghton you always can PRAY, even when G. Bush was President we was told to pray for him, I have learn that when you are putting your President down you are putting your country down and if you are a part of this country well guess what you are putting yourself down as well. I like Presient Obama and i applause him for what he is doing i really feel he is trying his best. AND YES I PRAY FOR HIM IN A POSITIVE WAY LIKE MANY OF US SHOULD BE DOING NOT PRAYING HE WILL DIE THATS THE DEVIL TALKING AND I STAND AGAINST THAT. I have never prayed for any Pres. to die and go to hell thats NOT GOD thats the Devil and im callin like it is. GOD IS LOVE! AND NOT HATE he hates sin not any person people need to read there biblie and not be fooled by anyone!

    September 7, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. Slider

    The President should address the schools that children attend.

    What makes "this" address inappropriate was the tone and meaning behind the President's advisors in the DOE. If the original message that the President was given to speak was so appropriate, then why was it amended?

    We the people do not serve the President; the President serves the people. Half this country has a deep, mistrust of their government. In this, they are most certainly correct as it was a feeling expressed by no less a person than Thomas Paine who stated "Government at its best is a necessary evil; at its worst, it is intolerable."

    Personally, I don't see with all of the corruption and power-grabbing by both parties in power, why anyone in their right mind would possibly trust a single motive by their government.

    Hayek was correct: neither socialists or conservatives care one whit about limited government; they are only concerned with who is running it.

    Let that be a lesson for our children to learn first and foremost...

    September 7, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. lilalove

    The speech echoed Thomas Jefferson (who wrote the public education bill)

    If the children are untaught, their ignorance and vices will in future life cost us much dearer in their consequences than it would have done in their correction by a good education.
    –Thomas Jefferson

    Prisons are costing us a fortune. Stay in school, work hard, get an education, get a good job, and for those with a talent and calling above a simple happy 'good life' you can be a great, if you set your mind to be. But no matter your level of god given talent, it still takes hard work to reach your dreams.

    September 7, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Mike in San Antonio

    As always, a classy lady.

    September 7, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. RO

    Good for her! Kudos! She is 100% correct!

    September 7, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. Val Smith

    I am a native Texan and one of America's many independent voters, and I want to thank you, Mrs. Bush, from the bottom of my heart. Each of our Presidents, past, present, and future, should have the right to speak to America's children about the importance of working hard in school, and obtaining a high quality education.

    September 7, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. TT

    Right on, Mrs Bush!

    September 7, 2009 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  16. GetOverIt

    I was wondering if a moderate Republican would have the nerve to stand up to the party machine and point out that the office deserves respect. Unfortunately, no elected officials saw fit to fly in the face of the Fox/Limbaugh smear machine.

    Thank you Laura, for doing what none of the Republicans had the cojones to do.

    September 7, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. Ryan (Charleston)

    I as a conservative have no problems with the president addressing the school children in a totally non-political "do good in school speech". I think this is the general opinion of most conservatives. My problem comes with these lesson plans and the hints of indoctrination that is sure to come. Plain and simple.

    September 7, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  18. Michele

    Finally! Laura Bush has always been a class act, and this statement proves it. I wish it would put a stop to the nonsense that has made me very embarrassed to be a Republican. Maybe now, some of the wingnuts of our party will listen to this terrific woman who has always spoken common sense and whose dedication to children's education is without question. I am so glad she spoke up!

    September 7, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Barbara

    Dear Lady Laura Bush, you are a wonderful caring Woman and even tho I don't usually vote for your party, if you would run for President
    and have as your running mate for Vice President, John McCains daughter, I would surely vote for you both !!!
    Thank you for speaking out for our President !

    September 7, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. RACHEL RULES

    Where are Obama's allies in all of this? It takes a Republican to come to his defense? Seems Like Obama is fighting all the battles by himself. People like the Clintons, Biden, Kerry, Schumer, Pelosi, Dean, need to add their voices to the debate, and take some of the heat off the President. Sometimes i wonder who's side they're on.

    September 7, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. Peggy

    Laura Bush shows that she considers education important. Although I wasn't a supporter of her husband, I have to admit he has acted well since he left public life. I hope those parents who don't want their kids to hear the President's speech will at least use this as an educational experience. Talk about why you don't support the President, but allow your kids to voice their opinions as well.

    September 7, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  22. Hugo

    Take note Obamas', that is class. Forget the political indoctrination in the presentation and mainstream America will get on board. If anyone else has researched this a little further you would see that his presentation is evolving from when first reported by the media. The first draft that I read on line with some associated Hollyweird supporters was beyond anything I would want my kids exposed to. Stick to the educational message and leave politics and self out of the presentation and America will buy it!

    September 7, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. williefloyd

    Just read the speech. Laura Bush is totally correct. I've reared 2 sons and would have been very thankful had they heard this. It is not only good for our children, it would behoove all of us to remember the points Pres. Obama has made. I pity the children whose parents are so ignorant as to object to them hearing this speech. The children need our prayers!!

    September 7, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. Brian MacDougall

    A class act, every inch of her. Always has been.

    September 7, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Elizabeth

    Mrs. Bush is, like so many wives of Presidents, truly a lady.

    September 7, 2009 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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