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Laura Bush, 'where were you when we needed you?'

I was tooling around Facebook yesterday when something my friend Scott Sanders put on his news feed caught my eye. Laura Bush, who's promoting her new book, "Spoken from the Heart," expressed support for abortion rights on Tuesday's "Larry King Live." That alone is newsworthy. But what also caught my attention was what Bush said about same-sex marriage. She's for it. And she believes that its legality "will come." Bush told King, "When couples are committed to each other and love each other, then they ought to have, I think, the same sort of rights that everyone has."

How about that? Another high-powered Republican coming out for marriage equality. Cindy and Meghan McCain and former vice president Dick Cheney have long been members of this club. But when I asked my friend Charles Francis what he thought about this revelation, he put my enthusiasm in check.

"As a longtime family friend, who respects Laura greatly," Francis told me, "I can only say, 'Where were you when we needed you?'"

"For me and other gay friends and original gay and lesbian supporters who put it out there for President Bush, this comment comes painfully late," Francis said. "The actual legacy, and legacy is what we are talking about, is eight years of unremitting policy hostility for any gay issue mixed with personal warmth, which made this so difficult. This culminated in a willingness to write us into the Constitution itself. Laura Bush never helped us, and we tried many times."

Allies in the struggle for equal rights are always welcome. But heroes are made when they speak up and take a stand from a position of power. Francis and other gays and lesbians were looking for heroes during the eight years of the Bush administration. How sad that Mrs. Bush averted her gaze until now.

By Jonathan Capehart  | May 13, 2010; 5:33 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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The comment "where were you when we needed you" is telling. Laura Bush was there doing what she should have been doing...gracefully being the First Lady without being distracting from the Office of the President of the United States. In a high profile position that is not officially a policy making job, it is not the job of the First Lady to be a social activist. Personal feelings about issues should take a back seat to what the Administrations goals are because the First Lady does not make policy.

I admire Laura Bush for having the good grace of not politicizing the position of First Lady. Back in Texas, she now has the ability to express her views on many subjects without crossing up her husband's administration policies.

Her new book should make an interesting read and I intend to get started with it soon. Her views on gay marriage don't exactly coincide with my views, but I respect her opinion and like her I believe that it will eventually occur. It needs to be done in a thoughtful manner and with respect to feelings of those people that do not support such a move. The "in your face" movement will not garner any needed support for the idea of gay marriage. There are many sensitive issues that need to be ironed out before gay marriage will be accepted by the majority of the people.

Laura Bush is not an "in your face" person and should be admired for that reason. She added grace and dignity to the position of First Lady and we should respect her descision to remain silent during her term.

Posted by: rufboy17 | May 13, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Then we need to clarify the roles for spouses of politicians. I expect that when the president's marriage partner is a man, the public will tolerate greater involvement by the first spouse. (Though I hope the "first dude" of Alaska does not set a precedent!)

Posted by: kejia32 | May 13, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

"Where were you when we needed you?" She was being the submissive muslim wife. Dutiful acting the Eva Braun, bowing to her whack job husband because that's what submissive mindless women are supposed to do. So now she has an opinion? I only wonder who cares?

Posted by: madest | May 13, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Republicans are strongly coerced into keeping their original thinking to themselves. They operate like a machine, all speaking with the same tongue, usually the words written for them by a highly paid consultant. Laura Bush would have needed a lot of courage to go against the Rove Machine. She didn't have a lot of courage. It's too bad. She may have been able to think for herself, but sadly, she had to play the role of adoring (brainless) wife.

Posted by: cturtle1 | May 13, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

This continues to show how republicans put party first. I don't know how one can say that they support an issue when they didn't speak a word against a proposed constitutional amendment (proposed by the spouse's administration) that was to outlaw the very issue she states to agree with.

In response to rufboy17, almost every first lady has dealt with social issues. Some dealt with extending the right to vote for women. Some deal with childhood obesity. Laura herself dealt with childhood illiteracy. These are all social issues. Maybe not as polarizing as gay marriage, but social issues non the less.

As I said in the beginning, it is truly showing how many of these republican politicians seem to believe the exact opposite of the party brand, opposite of the way they have voted for legislation and opposite of the speeches they've made outlining the "evils" of society. Cheney was against gay marriage, calling for a constitutional amendment, but once he left office, he was OK with it. This is really showing how hypocritical these people really are, and how they value power over what's right.

Posted by: cgallaway2000 | May 13, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't expect any First Lady to publicly oppose what their husband was doing. She may have spoken to him in private about this, but who is to know except the two of them?

Posted by: creatia52 | May 13, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Obama has overtly said that he doesn't support gay marriage...perhaps politicians and their spouses are all the same (i.e. just looking for popularity) regardless of party affiliation?

Posted by: jb11232 | May 13, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

at least with the Bush Adminstration I knew where I stood as a gay man; general neglect and/or hostility. The Obama Administration has welcomed me with open arms. In one open hand is a voter registration card, in the other a DNC contribution envelope. As I enter the warm embrace, a whispered voice says to me, "We'll take care of you guys as long as it's not 'controversial'. It's the same embrace that John Kerry gave me in 2004, and that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid gave me in 2006.

I have friends that are veterans, parents, and life long partners all waiting for this administration to do the right thing and overturn DADT, DOMA, and sign ENDA. Funny thing is, we've been waiting since 1992 with Bill Clinton. Perhaps the neglect and hostility is preferable to the patronizing political calculations.

Posted by: bill_delgrosso | May 13, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Laura Bush was and is a gracious lady and a great credit to the position of First Lady.

Hillary Clinton was never voted in to be a political member of the White House during Clinton's term, but elevated herself into a position of influence.

Now we have the same with Michelle Obama.

These ladies may have been instrumental in getting their husbands elected, but that does not mean anyone elected them into high office.

It is not about sex either. When Margaret Thatcher was elected as Prime Minister in Britain, her husband was a successful businessman, but never took to the spotlight like so many other wives of mainly Left wing Administrations do.

Clinton, Blair, Obama all have wives that feel they have to let the world know what they think and try to influence their husband's political office.

But as I said, they were not elected to office, and unlike Dennis Thatcher and Laura Bush, they lack the grace to know when not to abuse their exalted positions.

Posted by: stephenr1 | May 13, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The fact is Laura Bush married an idiot. That says all you need to know about her.

Posted by: starman0722 | May 13, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

And why the silence for so long as her people were demonizing abortion providers as baby-killers and gays as evil sodomites?? It's easy for Laura to come out now that there's nothing to lose and money to be made on her book.

That's class? That's courage?? I don't think so.

Posted by: thebobbob | May 13, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

She's selling a book so take everything she says with a grain of salt.

Posted by: rlj1 | May 13, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

To those showing anger towards Laura Bush over this support too little, too late:

I hope you react with the same anger towards the Obamas in 8 years (or later) when they finally speak out in favor or same-sex marriage

Posted by: DCCharles | May 13, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I think that rather than criticize Laura Bush, she should be applauded. Gay marriage is a "new" idea and we should expect that people come to see it differently the more it is discussed. Even Elizabeth Hasselbeck (The View) is slowly coming around although she has a way to go (her husband said on The View when he co-hosted that he supports gay marriage). But at least Elizabeth had Melissa Etheridge over and discussed the issue.
I'm gay and almost got into a bar fight in the 90's with a guy who was for gay marriage. I didn't see the point then and he became furious with me. I see the point now but not because of his yelling at me. It took years for me to see it as a right I want to have.
Give people time to grow and discuss matters. I think Laura Bush is an elegant and intelligent person who deserves respect.

Posted by: garykevin | May 13, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

As a conservative, I am glad I now know what Laura Bush stands for and I am glad she was not president! She is not the intelligent person I thought her to be and I will not bother reading her book (which I was getting ready to purchase). I believe that history will paint George W as a good man that tried to do the right thing. Exterminating babies is not the right thing! How about teaching our children some morals - oh I know - that would be too difficult because on a whole, much of society is filled with lazy parents! And don't bother counter-arguing about incest, health concerns for the mother, etc. - all that amounts to less than 1% of abortions in this country. Lets call abortion was it is - an easy way out, a means to an end, a quick fix with no consequence or conscience, nothing less than murder.

Posted by: proudconservative | May 13, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

where was she on everything. everytime george did something stupid people looked to her to see if she wold inject some common sense into the issue. sadly she never did. she stood stoically by as george burned down the country and the world.

Posted by: submarinerssn774 | May 13, 2010 6:49 PM | Report abuse

As the cliche says; She just did what she had to do. Who of us would have done differently?
Are she and Bush leading more or less parallel lives? I know it's none of my business but I'm just asking what I have to ask.

Posted by: m_richert | May 13, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Laura Bush is a great lady. As the President's 'wife' she conducted herself with class and dignity. Laura will probably be the last truly genteel 'Lady' of the White House.

Posted by: prossers7 | May 13, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

MRS. BUSH KEPT DIGNITY IN OUR WHITE HOUSE. WHERE HAS OBAMA BEEN FOR OVER A YEAR? THE ONLY THING AMERICANS HAVE TO FEAR IS THE CORRUPT OBAMA ADMINISTRATON. ON DECEMBER 23, 2009, THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE SAID: "To pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings ... and thus overstate the improvement in the governnment's fiscal position." $940 BILLION WAS AN ESTIMATE, IN DECEMBER -- NOW IT'S AN "ADDITIONAL" $115 BILLION! GOD ONLY KNOWS HOW MUCH OBAMACARE WILL REALLY COST US -- WE'LL FIND OUT "AFTER THE FACT"! This is the most corrupt administration in American history. See ya in November!

Posted by: brown301944 | May 13, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

" it is not the job of the First Lady to be a social activist"

That will come as a great shock to past outspoken First Ladies like Eleanor Roosevelt.

Apparently, according to you, the function of a First Lady is to shut up, look pretty, and yes, "Yes, sir" to everything her husband says.

Posted by: JonahFalcon | May 14, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

If only Laura Bush & Meghan McCain could make themselves useful & help put a sock in Palin's Pie-hole...

Posted by: jpw74 | May 14, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Charles Francis is right. Moral courage requires you to stand up for your beliefs and your friends. It sounds like if Laura Bush lived in Nazi Germany she wouldn't offer to hide any Jewish friends but she would offer to water their plants while they were 'away'.

Posted by: Bobscomedy | May 17, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

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