It seems more than a few people are not happy about Laura Bush being awarded a very high honor by the Sewall-Belmont House, a museum dedicated to advancing women.
Twenty-two women, including former members of the museum’s board, have penned a letter to the museum in protest of Bush’s selection for the Alice Award, as first reported by the Washington Post. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, co-founder of the National Organization for Women, led the charge.
“When I read that the award was going to be given to Laura Bush, I felt as if I’d had a sudden onset of Alzheimer’s,” she told Yeas & Nays. “I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
It’s not Bush’s political affiliation that she objects to, Fuentes insists. “It’s not partisan,” she said. “I’m not complaining that she’s a Republican. I’m complaining that she’s never done anything for women to get this award.”
Well I am not a big Bush Family fan, but I was immediately doubtful that Fuentes was being honest. “Never done anything for women,” is a very broad statement to make, and I decided to look into it. I found on Wikipedia an entirely different story. It reads like this:
Polled by Gallup as one of the most popular first ladies, Laura Bush was involved in both national and global concerns during her tenure. She continued to advance her trademark interests of education and literacy by establishing the semi-annual National Book Festival in 2001 and encouraged education on a worldwide scale. She also advanced women’s causes through The
Heart Truth and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She represented the United States during her foreign trips, which tended to focus on HIV/AIDS and malaria awareness. In May 2010, Bush released her
memoir, Spoken from the Heart, in conjunction with a national tour.
After graduating from SMU, she began her career as a second grade school teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in the Dallas
Independent School District. She then taught for three years at John F. Kennedy Elementary School, a Houston Independent School
District school in Houston, until 1972.
In 1973, Welch attained a Master of Science degree in Library Science from the University of Texas at Austin. She was soon
employed as a librarian at the Kashmere Gardens Branch at the Houston Public Library. The following year, she moved back to Austin and took another job as a librarian in the Austin Independent School District school Dawson Elementary until 1977. She reflected on her employment experiences to a group of children in 2003, saying, “I worked as a teacher and librarian and I learned how important reading is in school and in life.”
Though during her years in the Governor’s Mansion, she did not hold a single formal event,Laura worked for women’s and children’s
causes including health, education, and literacy. She implemented four major initiatives: Take Time For Kids, an awareness campaign to
educate parents and caregivers on parenting; family literacy,through cooperation with the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy,
she urged Texas communities to establish family literacy programs; Reach Out and Read, a pediatric reading program; and Ready to Read,
an early childhood educational program.
She raised money for public libraries through her establishment of the Texas Book Festival, and established the First Lady’s Family
Literacy Initiative, which encouraged families to read together. Bush further established “Rainbow Rooms” across the state, in an
effort to provide emergency services for neglected or abused children. Through this, she promoted the Adopt-a-Caseworker Program to provide
support for Child Protective Services.She used her position to advocate Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer awareness as well.
As First Lady, Bush was involved in issues of concern to children and women, both nationally and internationally.
Her major initiatives included education and women’s health.
Early into the administration, Bush made it known that she would focus much of her attention on education. This included recruiting highly
qualified teachers to ensure that young children would be taught well. She also focused on early child development.In 2001, to promote reading
and education, she partnered with the Library of Congress to launch the annual National Book Festival. To promote American patriotic heritage
in schools, she helped launch the National Anthem Project.
Later in her tenure, she was honored by the United Nations, as the body named her honorary ambassador for the United Nations’ Decade of
Literacy. In this position, she announced that she would host a Conference on Global Literacy. The conference, held in September 2006, encouraged a constant effort to promote literacy and highlighted many successful literacy programs. She coordinated this as a result of her many trips abroad where she witnessed how literacy benefited children in poorer nations.
Another of her signature issues were those relating to the health and well being of women. She established the Women’s Health and Wellness
Initiative and became involved with two major campaigns.
Bush first became involved with The Heart Truth awareness campaign in 2003. It is an organization established by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to raise awareness about heart disease in women, and how to prevent the condition. She serves in the honorary position of ambassador for the programleading the federal government’s effort to give women a “wake up call” about the risk of heart disease. She commented on the disease: “Like many women, I assumed heart disease was a man’s disease and cancer was what we would fear the most. Yet heart disease kills more women in our country than all forms of cancer combined. When it comes to heart disease, education, prevention, and even a little red dress can save lives.” She has undertaken a signature personal element of traveling around the country and talking to women at hospital and community events featuring the experiences of women who live, or had lived, with the condition. This outreach was credited with saving the life of one woman who went to the hospital after experiencing symptoms of a heart attack.
With her predecessor, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Bush dedicated the First Ladies Red Dress Collection at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in May 2005. It is an exhibit containing red suits worn by former First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush meant to raise awareness by highlighting America’s first ladies. She has participated in fashion shows displaying red dresses worn on celebrities as well.
Bush’s mother, Jenna Welch, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 78. She endured surgery and currently has no further signs of cancer. Laura Bush has become a breast cancer activist on her mother’s behalf through her involvement in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She applauded the foundation’s efforts in eliminating cancer and said, “A few short years ago, a diagnosis of breast cancer left little hope of recovery. But thanks to the work of the Komen Foundation… more women and men are beating breast cancer and beating the odds.”She used her position to gain international support for the foundation through the Partnership for Breast Cancer Awareness and Research of the Americas, an initiative that unites experts from the United States, Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico.
In November 2001, she became the first person other than a president to deliver the weekly presidential radio address. She used the opportunity
to discuss the plight of women in Afghanistan during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, saying, “The brutal oppression of women is a central goal of the terrorists.” In May 2002, she made a speech to the people of Afghanistan through Radio Liberty, a radio station in Prague, Czech Republic.
Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health
In August 2007, the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health (LWBIWH) was founded at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. This institute aims to integrate research, education and community outreach in a multidisciplinary approach to women’s health and has begun efforts to establish a multi-campus women’s health institute in Amarillo, El Paso, Lubbock and the Permian Basin.
A subsidiary of the center, the Jenna Welch Women’s Center, opened in Midland, Texas, on August 10, 2010, to deliver expert medical care to
women and their families. Operating in partnership with the Laura Bush Institute, the Jenna Welch Center, named for Bush’s mother, strives for
excellence in research, education and community outreach.
Laura Bush’s approval ratings have consistently ranked very high. In January 2006, a USA Today/CBS/Gallup poll recorded her approval
rating at 82 percent and disapproval at 13 percent. That places Bush as one of the most popular first ladies. Former White House Press
Secretary Ari Fleischer said, “She is more popular, and more welcome, in many parts of the country than the president… In races where the
moderates are in the most trouble, Laura Bush is the one who can do the most good.”
After reading the wiki article, I think Fuentes wasn’t being totally informed when opening up her big mouth to speak, or she wasn’t being honest about her partisanship, although she didn’t have much nice to say about Michelle Obama either:
“Here you have a woman who was a brilliant attorney,” Fuentes said of Michelle Obama. “She’s just published a book about how to garden.”
I might add there, even though she didn’t mean that as a compliment to our current first lady, that book could be VITAL to our survival after her husband gets done with this country.