Tales from the Trail

Laura Bush defends Michelle Obama

June 9, 2008

rtx6hp9.jpgMichelle Obama has a new defender from those who say she isn’t patriotic enough — First Lady Laura Bush. In an interview with ABC News, Bush said that Obama’s February remark that she was proud of the United States “for the first time in my adult life” was misconstrued.

“I think she probably meant ‘I’m more proud.’ That’s what she really meant,” Bush said from Afghanistan.

“You have to be really careful in what you say because everything you say is looked at and in many cases misconstrued,” she said.

Some commentators have said the remarks show that Obama, wife of likely Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama, does not love her country.

Bush also praised her White House predecessor, Hillary Clinton, who formally ended her bid to be the first female president on Saturday.

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“Well of course, I want the woman president to be a Republican woman,” Bush said, when asked whether she was sorry to see Clinton’s campaign end.

“But I will say I watched the campaign and I admired Hillary’s grit and strength,” she said.

“I have to say I had a lot of admiration for her endurance,” she added.

Bush, who has endured five political campaigns with her husband dating back to the 1970s, said she would not run for office herself.

 Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Top: Reuters/Jason Reed (Barack and Michelle Obama board plane in Chicago recently); Bottom: Reuters/Larry Downing (Laura Bush visits Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan)

Comments
29 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Thank you Mrs. Bush for speaking the truth, and defending Mrs. Obama. You are a class act!

Posted by Jen | Report as abusive
 

Laura bush is a poised, respectable woman.

Hillary, take it to Denver….otherwise, we will remember in November.

Posted by roberta | Report as abusive
 

Thank you, Laura! If only Roberta were poised and respectable.

Posted by Tre | Report as abusive
 

I’m an avid Democrat, but agree completely: Laura Bush is definitely a class act. Not only in what she said, but how she said it — she accurately quoted what Michelle said, rather than using the rabid commentator spin. Only the second or third time I’ve seen that done.

So, along with class, this First Lady has intelligence; can read, and then retain it!

Posted by LizzabethCan | Report as abusive
 

Oops… didn’t notice that the full quotation was used in another article, not this one. Well, please take my word for it — Laura quoted Michelle correctly.

Thanks, Laura.

Posted by LizzabethCan | Report as abusive
 

Ms. Bush is a class act and I would expect her to defend Michelle Obama but unfortunately there is no excuse. Barack Obama OWES BIG in Chicago for his meteoric rise in the political arena and he and his wife were stupid enough to welcome the endorsement of Louis Farrakhan, the murderer of Malcolm X who was a very fine man.
Everyone can think what they will but Ms. Obama meant exactly what she said. Sadly this is coming from a woman not raised in the slums and afforded many opportunities others do not have or have not had. If Ms. Obama had been raised in Africa she would not have the educational level she is supposed to possess and she is ‘proud for the first time of her country’!!!!
I am not impressed with either Obama or his wife, both are power hungry, racist and ill educated in too many ways to count.
By the way, where was Mr. and Ms. Obama when Daley was tearing down low income housing for blacks in Chicago and approving precious few for the new housing built?

Posted by KC | Report as abusive
 

Did she bring the quote up herself? Maybe it was a classy response, but it was also a response that gave the media a peg to revisit the Michelle Obama quote.

Posted by neil | Report as abusive
 

I appreciate what Laura Bush said of Michell Obama’s remarks. Mrs. Bush has indeed been a class act in the White House. She has put up with a lot and probably could tell Michelle Obama to get ready for some tough sledding.

It’s not easy to live in an environment of zero privacy. I’d like to see some of these armchair critics avoid making any gaffes when they open their mouths. From what gets posted in political forums, I’d say more than 80% of it would not even be printable or viewable in family oriented media outlets. And yet so many forum posters feel so entitled to criticize candidates and their families while using amazingly vile terms. Sure, there’s a right to free speech. It used to be exercised with more evidence of thought beforehand.

Posted by Liz | Report as abusive
 

heh. i wonder what prompted laura bush to make that comment. it couldn’t possibly have been a ‘reporter’ looking to gin up some controversy, could it….

Posted by linda | Report as abusive
 

This contributor sitting in London is extremely impressed with Mr. and Mrs. Obama, and look forward to continuing to see them campaigning, putting to the sword as they are the myth that Americans are lacking in class, style, education and elegance.

I am absolutely delighted to see the positive portrayal of their country that they are putting out here.!

Posted by Dee | Report as abusive
 

I am a Republican to my heart and have to say I am literally shocked by Laura’s Bush’s integrity and class. That is a shame in itself that someone would be shocked that George Bush’s wife would speak the truth as she saw it and didn’t fall into the tearing down of another (Hillary could take a lesson). I am proud of her that she spoke her heart about both Hillary and Michele. Sad commentary on American expectations that it was shocking.

Posted by Pat | Report as abusive
 

wow i think its funny that even a republican can understand what Mrs. Obama was trying to say rather than some democrats and news tabloids. Its funny also how people are looking for any way to attack Obama. By the way, where was Hilary and Mc Cain when Daley was tearing down low income housing for blacks in Chicago and approving precious few for the new housing built?!

 

KC it is very important to do your home work before you make embarassing comments. i was born and raised in africa and I have a higher education than Michelle. there are millions of people born and raised in africa and are very well educated. please try to enlighten yourself with the world affairs. You are so narrow minded.

 

The fact that you hate Obama and his wife does not means Africans do not get educated. KC you need to go to school and broaden your mind. Learn about the rest of the world. Yes America is a great country but not the only place in the world with schools. KC you need to know that every part of the world has its ups and downs. Africa is not synonymous with not going to school. You are so ignorant. Obama is not synonymous with Africa, claiming you are who you are, KC you should have figured that. Get education know your place, know what the facts are then air your educated views.

 

Of course Mrs. Bush is a class act. But I wonder what would have happened if it were the other way around. The venom spewed from the left is so horrific that it’s embarassing. If anyone in the Bush administration had said anything of this kind, they would have been over him like ants on honey. By the way, Ms. Obama has made other controversial comments, and there is also the small matter that she and her husband sat through 20 years of anti-semitic, anti-white, anti-U.S. comments by their esteemed pastor. Interesting that only over the past month or so have they repudiated what he had said! Now there’s sincerity for you!

Posted by Larry | Report as abusive
 

Dee, no wonder the UK is a mess if y’all are so easily impressed by sound and fury signifying nothing. Next time, try not to insult Americans when you post; it betrays your lack of class.

The quote is about Michelle’s “February remark that she was proud of the United States “for the first time in my adult life” was misconstrued.
“I think she probably meant ‘I’m more proud.’ That’s what she really meant,” Bush said from Afghanistan.’”

Laura Bush is very gracious, but she’s putting words in Michelle Obama’s mouth. In doing so, she delineates how far Michelle has to go to be a first lady. The comparative “more,” which Laura inserts, assumes pride in the first place; that assumption is negated by Michelle’s statement that America is a “mean” country.

If Michelle Obama believes that America is a “mean” country, then it logically follows that she cannot be proud of it since “mean” is a pejorative and no one but a mean person is proud of meanness. If Michelle Obama is a mean person, then Laura’s “probably” might be true because then Michelle is being proud of the “meanness” of the country. She isn’t, and America isn’t “mean” as she believes. Her context and intonation when using “mean” says she isn’t. Therefore, Laura’s “probably,” though generous, makes Michelle Obama look even worse … if that were possible.

So, Mrs. Bush gets major points for grace; Mrs. Obama loses points on patriotism.

Posted by indga | Report as abusive
 

“Well, please take my word for it — Laura quoted Michelle correctly.”

No, she didn’t. Don’t mistake Mrs. Bush’s graciousness for some excuse for Mrs. Obama’s telling quote.

I don’t doubt she has feelings for the nation that was the only place in the word where she could rise from modest circumstances to being a wealthy Harvard Law School grad, it’s just that her standard liberal victimology position causes her to be more ambivalent about the country that gave her so much than many of us would be comfortable with.

That line was part of her stump speech and was delivered a number of times. On one occasion it was used twice in a single day, the only difference being that the word “really” was inserted the second time.

Posted by Stan | Report as abusive
 

Jeri – Learn some capitalization with the ‘elevated’ educational level you possess it makes you more credible.

Marge – I never claimed to be anything in particular and never stated Obama was synonymous with Africa nor did I state all Africans are ill educated. The statement I made was with regard to Michelle’s comment ‘finally being proud of her country’. But if you could read with comprehension I guess you not have problems with others posts. By the way hate is an extremely strong emotion. Considering most of our politicians rank on a parallel with Ren and Stimpy, amusement would be a more apropos description of my feeling toward politicians. You, yourself need to grow up and learn to read before you and all of your infinite wisdom decide to ‘hate’ someone else.

Posted by KC | Report as abusive
 

“By the way, where was Hilary and Mc Cain when Daley was tearing down low income housing for blacks in Chicago and approving precious few for the new housing built?!” – Angel

Dear, in case you forgot, those housing districts were torn down b/c of gangs. You couldn’t even go outside without being shot. Those houses were built for blacks and were taken over by black gangs. The crime was so horrific that police couldn’t control the area. Tearing it down was the only option.

Posted by ChicagoDude | Report as abusive
 

As a die-hard conservative, I’ve always assumed that her words were misconstrued. I don’t believe for a moment that she’s really proud of her country even today.

Face it, if her country was really something she was so proud of, she wouldn’t feel that it was in need of so much “change”.

It’s the fundamental problem of progressives: how do you truly love a country that requires so much progress to perfect? Progress that only you and your fellow travelers can lead, of course.

Posted by EricP | Report as abusive
 

EricP, you don’t believe it because you don’t want to believe it. As you pointed out, you are a die hard Republican, so you don’t have time to explore real issues. You’d rather believe anything that Bill O Reilly says. That’s why we’re in Iraq and that’s why we’ll be there for 100 years if McCain is elected, because you are a die hard Republican. What in the world does it say about you when you vote based on party affiliation and not issues? Are you brainwashed or something? Die hard Republican?

Posted by kat1park | Report as abusive
 

I belive her comments were taken ou of context, and I admire Mrs. Bush for her comments on Mrs Obama.

Esteban Leon
Caracas-Venezuela

Posted by Esteban Leon | Report as abusive
 

Indga, you better take an English class!

Laura Bush is a Librarian by profession, and for her degree she needed to pass some reading comprehension classes. She is also an intelligent person. So I am not surprised that with her librarian ethical approach to freedom of speech she underscored the only meaning that Michelle Obama’s remark may have in the English language; That Michelle Obama has always loved her country, only that now with a candidate for Change winning, she is even more proud. God bless you, Mrs. Bush. It takes a librarian! Now I am really proud of you.
It is not surprising that Laura Bush’s approval ratings double these of her husband. Now they should triple.
Michelle Obama is a lawyer by profession. She knows her words well. To construe her remark as unpatriotic, the MSMs as well as the recent GOP negative ad had to falsify the tape of her speech by removing the word “really” from the whole sentence. Without this adverb the sentence has a very different (=unpatriotic) meaning.
With it, it may only mean what Laura Bush said yesterday. Since February many linguists have discussed the remark and pointed to an evident glitch in the the video where the word “really” is cut out, see youtube where both versions float

Posted by westerner22 | Report as abusive
 

The full quote:
“What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback. It is making a comeback. And let me tell you something–for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country. And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change. And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment. I’ve seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it’s made me proud.” [New York Times, 2/19/08] MICHELLE OBAMA

Now I REALLY like you, Mrs Bush! ( = I have liked Mrs. Bush before)

If you don’t get it, get an English class!

Posted by westerner22 | Report as abusive
 

I think Mrs. Bush is a true first lady. She has a lot of class and is very eligant. Even though I disagree with President Bush on a lot of his policies, I think he is good man and probably a wonderful dad.

 

Thank you for posting the whole quote westerner22. For people that are open minded and who make an attempt to comprehend what Michelle is saying, it’s easy to understand. And for those who insist on denigrating her as unpatriotic, stop for a minute and think of the shape the country is in right now.

She’s from Chicago where some 35 school kids have been shot in the past year, in their schools, on the school bus, on the streets. Not something to be proud of. There is an unending war going on that has cost 4,100 Americans their lives and tens of thousands have grievous injuries. Most Americans aren’t proud of that. More than a millian Americans have had their homes foreclosed and thousands more are losing their jobs everyday. Nothing to be proud of there. Tens of millions of Americans don’t have health care. Absolutely shameful in such a rich nation. I could go on.

So now huge numbers of people are hearing about Barack’s dreams of what America can do and be and they’re registering to vote in record numbers. That’s something to be proud of and that’s what Michelle is so excited about. Of course she’s proud of the country that gave a young lady from the mean streets of the south side of Chicago the opportunity to achieve as much as she’s achieved. Of course she’s proud of the country that gave her husband, a skinny black guy with big ears and a funny name, the opportunity to be president. That she’s more proud of her country now than she’s ever been before is a perfectly natural emotion for her to have.

Posted by sharon | Report as abusive
 

Michelle is a bright, outspoken lawyer who came from a family where education was seen as the way out of the ghetto. Her parents worked hard for her to get the education she did. She has every right to say what she wants without a bunch of people calling her unpatriotic. Laura Bush is married to a man who singlehandedly wiped out the goodwill of this country around the world and is responsible for dead babies and blind and hungry children. Gracious is so unimportant when you are married to a murderer who talks like he has early onset dementia. Gracious would be to walk out on him and never look back and support his impeachment.

 

Earlier this year, Michelle Obama, Senator Barack Obama’s wife, made the comment that “for the first time in my adult lifetime I am proud of my country, because it is ready to embrace change.”

In front of a white Republican audience the day after those remarks, Senator John McCain and his wife Cindy weighed in on them. Cindy McCain said to the audience “I have always been proud of my country.” Her husband said the same, with both receiving applause and cheers.

People in the McCain campaign, a number of strident talk show hosts, Republican politicians, journalists, political pundits, and media political analysts became a large chorus denouncing Michelle Obama for what its collective voice said was her lack of loyalty and patriotism to the United States.

Blacks were to be dominated, confined, and excluded in their own country. Whites endeavored to do this by enslaving Blacks, denying them human, political and civil rights, subjecting them to racist laws and racist segregation, by public denigration, by denying or diminishing their education, by denying them employment opportunities, access to health and medical care, forcing them to live in poor neighborhoods, and by subjecting them to various forms of violence.

Senator John McCain and his wife Cindy were adults when much of this gross mistreatment of Black people was occurring. They said that they had always been proud of their country, without any qualifying language. That means, then, on the basis of their own words, they were proud of this country when it was treating Black people the way it was doing.

 

EricP, your post reminds me of a thought I had heard many years ago, about the way that people love America. Some love America the way a 2-year old child loves his mother; as a do-no-wrong source of perfection and protection. Others love America the way a 35-year old loves his mother; recognizing her humanity, her flaws, and loving her for the entire picture, good and bad.

This isn’t simply a conservative versus liberal approach, of course, but I think the sense of conservatives versus progressives. I think that those of us who sought change for this country do so because of an understanding that there is no such thing as a perfect country, but there is such a thing as a quest for perfection. America is flawed, but it is also a land capable of correcting itself and of allowing its people to state, in no uncertain terms, that the time has come for a different direction. It is not America’s perfection I love, because seeking a perfect nation would leave me adrift in this world. There is no perfection to be found. No, it is not America’s perfection that I love, it is her course, wary though it may be, toward true equality and justice.

Posted by MikeR | Report as abusive
 

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