Barbara Bush: Matriarch of a Political Dynasty

By ROBIN STEIN, BEN LAFFIN and PETER BAKER
New York Times

Barbara Bush, Wife of 41st President and Mother of 43rd, Dies at 92

Barbara Bush, the widely admired wife of one president and the fiercely loyal mother of another, died Tuesday evening at her home in Houston. She was 92.

Jim McGrath, a family spokesman, announced the death in a statement posted to Twitter.

On Sunday, the office of her husband, former President George Bush, issued a statement saying that after consulting her family and her doctors, Mrs. Bush had “decided not to seek additional medical treatment and will instead focus on comfort care.”

The Bushes had celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January, making them the longest-married couple in presidential history.

Mrs. Bush had been hospitalized with pneumonia in December 2013. She underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer in 2008 and had heart surgery four months later.

As the wife of the 41st president and the mother of the 43rd, George W. Bush, Mrs. Bush was only the second woman in American history to have a son of hers follow his father to the White House. (Abigail Adams, wife of John Adams and mother of John Quincy Adams, was the first.)

Another son, Jeb, the governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, was an unsuccessful candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

During that campaign, he was repeatedly derided in personal terms by the eventual nominee and now president, Donald J. Trump, prompting Mrs. Bush, who was never shy about expressing her views, to lash back, suggesting in television interviews that Mr. Trump was a misogynist and a hatemonger.

“He’s said terrible things about women, terrible things about the military,” Mrs. Bush told CNN. “I don’t understand why people are for him.”

Dedicated to her family and largely indifferent to glamour, Mrs. Bush played down her role in her husband’s political success. But she was a shrewd and valuable ally, becoming a sought-after speaker in at least four national campaigns: in 1980, when Mr. Bush was chosen to be Ronald Reagan’s running mate; in 1984, when the two ran for re-election; in 1988, when Mr. Bush campaigned for president; and in 1992, when he sought re-election.

She stepped into another presidential campaign in 2000, that of her son George, then the governor of Texas. She appeared at fund-raisers and met voters in New Hampshire and other states on his behalf as he rolled to the Republican presidential nomination.

She was clearly a political asset. A 1999 poll found that 63 percent of Americans had a favorable opinion of her and that only 3 percent had an unfavorable one.

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