Former first lady Michelle Obama defended her friendship with former President George W. Bush in a new interview with Bush’s daughter, Jenna Bush Hager.
Speaking on the Today show on Tuesday, the former first lady, 55, said that while she and Bush, 73, may disagree on matters of politics, they actually have plenty in common — something that’s true of most people, she believes.
‘Our values are the same. We disagree on policy, but we don’t disagree on humanity. We don’t disagree about love and compassion,’ she said. ‘I think that’s true for all of us. It’s just that we get lost in our fear of what’s different.’
The two have gotten to know each other quite a bit over the past decade, as presidents and first ladies belong to a pretty exclusive club and pop up at the same important events.
‘I had the opportunity to sit by your father at funerals, the highs and the lows, and we shared stories about our kids and about our parents,’ Michelle told Jenna.
Their friendship has certainly been noticed by Americans. Due to protocol, at events including several former presidents and first ladies, Michelle and George are seated next to each other.
This has afforded them opportunity to talk — and share snacks.
‘President Bush and I, we are forever seatmates because of protocol, and that’s how we sit at all the official functions,’ she told a crowd on her Becoming book tour last year.
‘He’s my partner in crime at every major thing where all the “formers” gather. So we’re together all the time.’
In 2018, cameras caught Bush handing Mrs. Obama a mint at Senator John McCain’s funeral.
They repeated the gesture again, months later, at the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush.
‘He has the presence of mind and the sense of humor to bring me a mint, and he made it a point to give me that mint right then and there and that’s the beauty of George Bush,’ she said.
Speaking to Jenna this week, Michelle also addressed cancel culture, which her husband has warned against. Instead, she encouraged people to be more open.
‘When we drop our guards, we let ourselves become vulnerable, and that vulnerability allows us to share our true stories with each other,’ she said.
‘This generation coming up, I think they know more than what we did. While one can argue that social media is problematic, it’s also opening people up to new ideas, to each other, to parts of the world.
‘My hope is that they will be more open-minded and secure in who they are so that they can welcome other people’s stories into the mix. But it has to begin with us.’
Michelle also briefly talked politics, saying that she and former President Barack Obama are waiting to see who wins the Democratic nomination in 2020 before offering support.
‘When it comes to the candidate, we have to wait and see who’s the victor and then part of it is waiting to see, do they want our help? Do they want my help?’ she said. ‘I don’t assume, I didn’t think I would sell a book so I’m still that person. So I’ll wait to be asked.’
In the meantime, she is focused on generally encouraging Americans to vote.
‘One of the biggest ways I think I can help is to make sure that people understand the importance of voting and the power of voting in a democracy. That’s one way that we will be involved forever,’ she said.
Mrs. Obama has been asked before about her thoughts on the upcoming election, and she has remained neutral. At the Essence Festival in July, she told interviewer Gayle King that she and her husband would wait until after the primaries to publicly support a candidate.
Last November, she told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America that they were going to let the process play out first.
‘Where I’m at right now is that we should see anybody who feels the passion to get in this race, we need them in there. I think the process will play itself out,’ she said.
The new Today show interview also included talk of the Obamas dropping 18-year-old daughter Sasha off at the University of Michigan for her freshman year back in August.
‘There were [tears]. We were really good about it. We didn’t want to embarrass her because she had roommates and it was at the end, after lunch, when we said that final goodbye,’ she said.
‘When we got into a car, Me, Barack and Malia who was there with us, and then Sasha drove off on her own and said that last goodbye, that’s when we were like [crying noises].’
Older daughter Malia, 21, is a junior at Harvard University.
‘I’m excited for my girls to grow up and to become independent,’ Mrs. Obama said. ‘You feel a little melancholy that they will never be the little ones that sit on your lap and listen to your every word and look at you adoringly. Those days are over.’
She added that she is ‘so proud’ of how they turned out.
‘To spend your childhood growing up before the eyes of the world and to come out of that whole situation whole. They’re kind, they’re compassionate, they’re smart, they’re everything that I see in the girls that are here in Vietnam and around the world,’ she added.
Mrs. Obama and Jenna were in Vietnam to promote girls’ education.
‘I mean that’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about girls’ education because I see myself — I see my daughters — in these girls. They are no different.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Carly Stern