Former First Lady Barbara Bush, the wife of 41st President George H.W. Bush and mother of 43rd President George W. Bush, has died at the age of 92, her family said in a statement.
The New York Times wrote in its obituary of Bush:
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.
Here’s some things that she said out loud, which the Times obituary attributes to her “candor”:
In 2005, while visiting victims of Hurricane Katrina at the Houston Astrodome, where they were being temporarily housed, she remarked that many of them “were underprivileged anyway” and that their Astrodome stay — though the living conditions there were dire — was “working very well for them.”
Two years earlier, shortly before President George W. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, she said in a television interview that she had not been watching coverage of the prelude to war. “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths, and how many, what day it’s going to happen?” she asked. “Why would I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”
And here’s what she wrote on Anita Hill’s alleged harassment at the hands of Clarence Thomas, from her biography:
I will never believe that she, a Yale Law School graduate, a woman of the 80s, would put up with sexual harassment for one moment, much less follow the harasser from job to job, call him when she came back to town and later invite him to speak to her students at Oral Roberts University. It just makes no sense at all. It also makes no sense to me that this was all publicly aired on television. We are talking about reputations here and a good man was smeared.
She is survived by her husband and five children, one of whom is a war criminal.