The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


First Lady Laura Bush supports the Hilltop

First Lady Laura Bush has done so many things during her time inthe White House, and many students forget she was once a small towngirl from Midland, Texas. Before marrying George W. Bush in 1977,she worked as a public school teacher and librarian in both Dallasand Houston.

“I had no idea she went here,” junior Cole Hortonsaid while discussing the first lady in class.

Laura Bush received a bachelor’s degree in education fromSMU in 1968, and has kept in contact with many of her professorsand classmates throughout her adult life.

Although some students do know that Mrs. Bush once went to SMU,they may not realize how involved she continues to be when it comesto her alma mater.

While a student at SMU, she was a member of the Kappa AlphaTheta sorority and received the SMU Distinguished Alumni Award in1999.

Professor Marshall Terry said that he taught first lady Bushwhile she attended school at SMU. He described her as, “avery nice person,” and went on to say, “When I [wentto] the Distinguished Alumni Award[s] she wrote me a beautifulletter.”

Bush has been very involved on campus throughout the years, andwas elected to a four-year term on the SMU Board of Trustees inJuly 2000. In 1999, SMU dedicated the Laura Bush Promenade, asitting garden area outside Fondren Library Center. Texas GovernorGeorge Bush funded the promenade as a Christmas gift for his wifehonoring her numerous contributions to the education of literacyand literature.

After George W. Bush was elected in 2000, Bush continued herefforts to advance education while starting her new life as firstlady. As first lady, she holds advancing education as one of hermain priorities. As for making public appearances, she is known forher calm demeanor and is praised for her presence on camera.

During the elections taking place, Mrs. Bush has made twoappearances on “The Tonight Show” and has an upcomingappearance on “Live with Regis and Kelly.” Theseappearances prove that being the first lady is a very visible andimportant position during the election.

In this election, the public seems to support Bush more thanTeresa Heinz Kerry. According to an ABC/ Washington-Post poll, Mrs.Kerry’s unfavorable votes were 26 percent while Mrs. Bushreceived 12 percent.

There is so much confusion in the nation today about the role ofthe first lady. Some say that the wife of the president has a lotmore power in the White House than people realize, because she isthe only person that has constant access to the president. HillaryClinton is an excellent example of the way first lady’s canuse their power to try to change and enact policy. The majority ofthe public did not seem to like the previous outspoken intellectualwomen in the White House.

Kerry and Bush do have some things in common. They are bothfathers of two daughters and husbands of very supportive women.When Bush was asked what advice the strong women in his life givehim he said, “To listen to them. To stand up straight and notscowl.”

Professor of political science at SMU, Cal Jilson, tried toexplain what role the first lady has in the election. ProfessorJilson said the wives “will affect the climate of thecontext, but not the result of the election.” He said thatthe role of the candidates’ spouse is to, “center andground their husbands, and to provide them a sense of calm andpurpose.”

When asked about why the public tend to prefer Laura Bush overmore outspoken women such as Teresa Heinz he explained thatAmerica, “likes Laura Bush because she is a traditional firstlady.” Laura Bush’s quiet nature appears to work in herfavor.

Bush is the only first lady in history to record a fullpresidential radio address, speaking out on the suffering of thewomen living under the Taliban. The first lady is now leadingefforts to build teacher-training institute for women inAfghanistan.

Any public figure elected in politics knows tat their image willbe scrutinize, but that goes for the family of those elected aswell. If history proves anything about the preferences of mostAmericans, it proves they will choose traditional over intellectualwhen it comes to women in politics. Laura Bush has proved to be avery traditional first lady, and SMU should be proud to be the coreof her college background.

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