June 8, 2009 — -- While she said it is former Vice President Dick Cheney's right to challenge the Obama administration, former first lady Laura Bush said her husband, former President George Bush, believes he "owes President Obama his silence on issues, and that there's no reason to second-guess any decisions that he makes."
"I think [Cheney] feels obligated. You know, these are issues that are really important to him, and he knows a lot about them," Bush told "Good Morning America" today in an exclusive interview from the former first family's Dallas home, referring to Cheney's recent criticisms of the current administration's national security policies. "So you know, I understand why he wants to speak out."
As for those who criticized her husband's controversial national security policies, the former first lady said the result of those policies is telling.
"It's easy to say when we're so much further along after Sept. 11 that, well nothing else happened. There are different times, and it's easy to look back and say, 'We should have done this' or 'We should have done that.' But, in fact,we are safe, and we didn't have another attack. And I think that's important," she said.
The former first lady has a similarly patient attitude about the current state of the Republican party, noting that in-fighting is "probably not bad."
"It's like creating tension within a party for people to talk about ... how they want to be represented as a party member and how they want to see our party represented. And I think that one way to do that is to discuss," she said. "It comes and goes in cycles, so that's what I think this is ... just a very typical political cycle."
Bush called Sonia Sotomayor, Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, "a very interesting and good nominee."
"You know, as a woman, I'm proud that there might be another woman on the court and so, we'll see what happens, but I wish her well," Bush said.
Another woman Bush said she would be watching is the current first lady, Michelle Obama.
"I like to watch her. I think she's doing great," she said. "I mean, I remember what it's like, those first few months that you live at the White House where you're still looking for the light switches. ... And then to be there with their little girls reminded me a lot of being there with my big girls. ... It's a very, very nice place for family life."
Laura Bush's Life After the White House
Bush also sees in Michelle Obama the potential for great public service -- something the former first lady knows quite a lot about.
"I hope she'll discover, and I think she has, that she really does have a podium and that people do watch her, from all over the world. And she can be such a great example, and is, for people everywhere," she said.
Though she seemed very relaxed in her Dallas home -- the former first lady took up yoga while in office and continues to practice -- she has not slowed down her humanitarian efforts and work with the Heart Truth Campaign, the purpose of which is to inform women about the dangers of heart disease.
"You have a pretty big forum when you're the first lady of the United States, and a podium to get the word out," she said. "But I do want to continue to work on the things that I've been interested in. And this is one of them, women's health."
"Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American women," she continued. "And many, many women don't know that. ... One reason more women than men die of heart attacks in the U.S. is because women won't go straight to the hospital. They would send their husbands to the emergency room, but they always think, 'Oh, if I go lie down, I'll be better in a few minutes.' And they don't."
Just as she did while her husband was in office, Bush plans to work closely with international organizations to spread women's health education around the globe. She has started working in Dallas with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the breast cancer foundation founded by Nancy Brinker in 1982.
"They really are making sure that women everywhere know what the pink ribbon stands for and that women aren't embarrassed to get the treatment they need or to do the breast self-exams or get the mammograms, because there are still many parts of the world where breast wouldn't be spoken about. And women wouldn't seek the kind of medical treatment they should, if they found a lump in their breast," she said.
Bush's dedication to the cause of women's health has been recently honored by Texas Tech University, which named its women's health institute after her, something she said she made her "very proud."
"There are a lot of other ways that we, that the medical profession can be more effective in treating women. And that's the kind of research they're going to be doing, which is local, because they'll be treating west Texas women. But it's international in its scope, in the hopes that they will be able to make some breakthroughs in research that will help everybody," she said.
But when she's not pushing for women's health education, Bush said she enjoys living a quieter life, out of the White House spotlight where neighbors can visit and her husband can catch a catnap in a recently purchased hammock.
"I guess you just get used to things, because I didn't realize how stressful those years were until I wasn't stressed anymore. And, you know, there's been a certain relief that comes with leaving that kind of very public life and going back to a much more normal, private life. I really appreciate every single minute that I had the chance to live there and be at the White House," she said.
"But also, it's nice to be home."