Does President Bush believe a married woman needs her husband's permission to work outside the home? A Bush spokesman declined to comment on the question Wednesday, but an unguarded comment by the President this week seemed to raise the issue. At a Rose Garden ceremony celebrating the Job Training Partnership, Bush was accompanied by Labor Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole and her husband, Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.). Before he began his prepared remarks, Bush ad libbed: "It's a good chance to thank Sen. Dole for giving us one of the great secretaries of labor we've ever had, permitting her to serve our great country." Asked what Bush meant by the remark, White House deputy press secretary B.J. Cooper said simply: "I don't know." Others had less trouble finding interpretations: Bush's remark "is one of those comments that reveal how out of touch with 20th-Century American women he really is," said Judith Lichtman of the Women's Legal Defense Fund. Added Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.): "I think it's probably very sincere . . . it just shows he doesn't get it."
--Marilyn Quayle, a lawyer as well as the second lady in the land, at one time had planned to look for a job in Washington in law, lobbying or a related field. But as Quayle spokesman David Beckwith noted at the time, "there are obvious constraints--you can't be perceived as having a conflict of interest." Meanwhile, following, aides said, the example of First Lady Barbara Bush, the wife of the vice president will quietly celebrate an important milestone on Friday: her 40th birthday. She'll observe it with a small office party thrown by her staff, and little other fanfare, including interviews. Staff members noted that when Mrs. Bush was the second lady of the land, she was content to leave the spotlight to Nancy Reagan, and never tried to upstage her. Mrs. Quayle is trying to do the same thing, despite her assertive background as a practicing lawyer and political wife and her strong convictions on a number of subjects. Anna Maria Perez, Mrs. Bush's spokesperson, observed that "they are very good friends. I think Mrs. Bush greatly admires (Mrs. Quayle) because she is a lawyer."