September 7th, 2009
04:36 PM ET
13 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. Sand Raw

    Thanks Mrs Bush. You are so gracious and classy and kind. You have made me aware that we are all Americans, whether we are Republican, Democrats, or Independents, we should stick together. If one President fail we all fail. We need a kinder and gentler nation. We as a nation are exhibiting aggressive evil tendencies. Thanks for using your voice to bring this country together. God Bless.

    September 7, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. laura

    Laura Bush is a kind and very intelligent woman. But then, she IS a librarian.

    September 7, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. Jeff

    A woman with tremendous class; both when she was the First Lady and now with her balanced and fair comments about the current Presidency. If only more people could be as objective as her; listening and allowing both sides to present their thoughts and opinions, giving each mutual respect. Show me the current Democrat or Republican that is willing to do that and we'll then see the person that could lead this country forward out of its current stalemate.

    September 7, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  4. T Mckinley

    Although I consider her husband, George W. Bush, to have been a terrible President, Laura Bush has shown herself to be a woman with both class and intelligence. I applaud both her, and her daughter Jenna, for being willing to give our President a chance, and for not buying in to all the wingnut lunacy out there that is threatening to tear our country apart.

    BTW-Tim Pawlenty owes both our President and our country an apology for the disgusting and hateful remarks he made the other day.

    September 7, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Kevin

    Finally, a Republican with guts to come out and defend the President on this school thing. The President is not doing anything the average person wouldn't do to any child. The only diffrence is he is President.

    Also President Bush was not an idiot ,he just did not have the best polices. I would not have voted for President Bush, but he was still are President and we need to respect his role in what he did for America. I may not agree with his policies but if we keep fighting against our President versus disputing their policies we may become an ungovernable Nation….

    September 7, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. A Canadian Perspective

    Now this is what I have been waiting for.... – a Republican who has the class and the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what is right!!!!. She is indeed a very classy lady

    September 7, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. David

    Right on, Mrs. Bush.

    September 7, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  8. susie

    There is nothing wrong with the speech Obama is giving its the material that the school children were suppose to do following the speech. Thankfully, Obama took the require homework assignment and threw it in the trash!

    September 7, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  9. Lana Birmann

    My view from a distance (Toronto, Canada). Thank goodness for a voice of calm and reason from the former First Lady. The Republicans' internal fear-mongering generates party paranoia to an outlandish degree. Now, even a speech to inspire students has been twisted into something evil and unwholesome.

    Reminds me of the saying "The liar's punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else".

    September 7, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. afp

    Laura Bush is correct; respect the Office of the President. We all seem to fail that from time to time. It is an important matter of respect to the Office of the President, the Constitution and this great country. It is part of our citizenship responsibility. Anything less is not quite in the manner of the "American Spirit". We all have disagreements with every President – past, present and I am sure... future.

    A wonderful "education" speech by President Obama and wonderful comments from the former First Lady.

    September 7, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. lucy2

    I never really cared for her before, but the grace and generosity that she showed at the end of the Bush admin. and now continuing beyond it has changed my mind.

    September 7, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. Trang

    Thank you for bringing civility back.

    September 7, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  13. T Mckinley

    I wish that more Republicans could be like Laura Bush. The current bunch of wingnuts that are running the GOP right now are nothing but a bunch of partisan extremists.

    I applaud Laura Bush for being a voice of reason.

    September 7, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  14. Kent in CA

    It is clear why many Republicans fear this speech. Republicans are terrified of an educated population. Only an ignorate populace will allow itself to be victimized by corporate marketing manipulation. Boys and girls who grow into a generation of wise men and women are the ultimate terror to those in power. And I don't mean political power. Political power in our society pales in comparison to the corporate power that constantly manipulates impressionable minds so that the rich can squeeze every last dollar from your pocket. If you consider it in that context, this is indeed a very threatening speech, isn't it?

    September 7, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. T'SAH from Virginia

    Laura – Thank you. You also backed up what Michelle Obama stated about being a proud American... We appreciate your truthfulness and not being afraid to say what you believe!

    September 7, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. al/Alabama

    This country is showing the most disrespectful attitude I have ever seen toward the president of the country. It is shameful. Presidents have addressed school children before and there was never this call to parents to keep their children home, or for schools to opt not to show the event. If our children don't pursue their education the country will not be on an equal competivie footing with other countries that place a high value on education.

    Japan's literacy rate is in the very high 90%s. The same cannot be said of the US.

    September 7, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  17. RA

    Laura Bush is a class act. Thanks for some sensible comments.

    September 7, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. Peace

    What a smart and a classic lady. Laura Bush is exactly the example of what the Republicans need to lead them.

    September 7, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. bella

    Thank you Laura Bush! You are to be commended and respected for your kind words. Being a teacher, you most certainly know the challenges of motivating students. Former Presidents spoke to our children. It is only fitting and proper that President Obama do the same! Mrs. Bush has intelligence and integrity! Seems to me she is practicing "bi-partisanship"!

    September 7, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  20. Stu

    Beyond the fact that Obama embellished himself in a church which was founded on Steve Cone's theology which blends racial divide with Marxist revolutionary doctrine. Beyond his association with the likes of Bill Ayres. Beyond some questionable statements in his books...there is this. On some blogs, teachers (so they claim) have been posting comments about this topic and can't seem to resist the temptation to engage in Bush-bashing while aggrandizing Obama. On a public forum, that is their right but politics does not belong in the classroom. We saw this happen after the election and inauguration, so there is a lack of trust of the teachers to remain neutral in the classroom. Therefore, our children will not be viewing the speech in school. We, as a family can watch it at leisure and discuss it afterwards, free from the political opinions of educators.

    September 7, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  21. Howard

    Laura's one of the good ones.

    September 7, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. rachel

    Now its time for the obama supporters to admit that he is not right about everything so we really can have some civility. I haven't seen a democrate except for the clintons actually admit that repbulicans werent all evil.

    September 7, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. southerncousin

    Classy lady. Not afraid to speak up on CNN. Have not seen Michelle or any of the Obama crowd, give an interview on FOX. I wonder if they are scared or just playing that old liberal bias and hate game that liberals have perfected.

    September 7, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  24. Quietwalker

    We should all take a minute to consider the grace and dignity that President and Mrs. Bush have exhibited since President Obama's election. While it is obvious that their politics are different, the Bushes have both exhibited a sense of statesmanship and all of our people should be proud of their actions. While other nations experience changes in leadership with armed forces in the streets and violence we are blessed - we have transitions with pomp, with ceremony and with honor to both the past and the future presidents. Mrs. Bush, in particular, is an example to all of the honor she exhibits to the office. She deserves our thanks.

    September 7, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. peter

    This lady is amazing, I admire and respect her thoughtfulness. How I wish the Republican Party can emulate her instead of whinning about every issue. Without this lady, Bush presidency could be catastrophic than it was/is. Long live Laura

    September 7, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
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