Barbara Bush: 1925-2018

I read yesterday that Mrs. Bush refused all medical intervention except bourbon. There’s bravery in that. She was a formidable old lady. That’s all I’ve got to say. Open thread!

95 replies
  1. 1
    TenguPhule says:

    CIA Director Pompeo met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un over Easter weekend

    Via Wapo.

    JFC. North Korea probably has every American contingency plan for the region by now.

  2. 2
    PhoenixRising says:

    In an effort to report something positive about the deceased to my teen, I found that Babs was a leader in treating people with HIV like humans, attending the funeral of Ryan White and bringing attention to the board homes for babies with HIV who needed foster families to raise them after their moms died of AIDS.

    Well done, and the modeling for elders with terminal disease in her final days is respectable as well.

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    Dang. Too early in the day to pop open a bottle of bubbly.

  4. 4
    Elizabelle says:

    Handsome couple. And Barbara seems to have had a good death, as it were, at an advanced age. (I guess best is drifting off in your sleep after the bourbon, without the hospital stays …)

    I hope the GOP goes out harder and sooner.

  5. 5
    The Ancient Randonneur says:

    Carl Kassel, former NPR news reader, died today. RIP to both of them.

  6. 6
    Humdog says:

    That photo! Barbara’s eyes stayed the same. George Sr. looks kinda like Jared Kushner to me. I bet Babs would NOT have wanted Shitstain at her or George’s funerals.

  7. 7

    Twitter earlier today: A source close to the Bush family tells CBS News’ Jenna Gibson that, while Mrs. Bush’s COPD makes it difficult for her to breathe, she is alert and was having conversations last night. She was also having a bourbon.

    She faced death with dignity and her faith. May she RIP

  8. 8
    Keith G says:

    I had a chance to say “Hi” to her twice, once at an official introduction to the First Lady at a reading event for teachers and the other time was just a random, out and about crossing of paths after they returned to Houston. She was gracious and filled with good will.

    She also could be a feisty partisan capable of tossing off ill-considered comments, but I still like her all the same and wish her comfort and peace as she leaves this dimension.

  9. 9
    eemom says:

    I’m being nice.

  10. 10

    I don’t celebrate death, I certainly don’t mourn her, and she has been able to do very little harm to the world for awhile, so I have no feelings there.

    But the bourbon thing? I can shoot her a few points for style.

  11. 11
    chopper says:

    barbara bush was a tough old broad, i’ll give her that.

  12. 12
    Mary G says:

    @eemom: Ditto.

  13. 13
    mai naem mobile says:

    RIP Barbara Bush. The pics of her I’ve seen of her recently made her look Amazonian in height. I’m surprised she is shorter than HW in this pic.
    I know it’s not supposed to be poltical but I hope the Bushes are strong enough not to have Dolt45 or any of his family at the funeral.

  14. 14
    Elizabelle says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur: I know. Eclipsed by Mrs. Bush’s passing. And, another death of note: the great horse racing journalist, Bill Nack. Nice write up from the FTF NY Times.

    Bill Nack, an elegant sportswriter, best known for his work at Sports Illustrated, who found an early outlet for his love of horse racing as a teenage groom and went on to chronicle the magnificent career of the 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat, died on Friday at his home in Washington. He was 77.

    His wife, Carolyne, said the cause was lung cancer.

    He loved Secretariat, and chronicled him, and Ruffian, well.

    Soon appointed Newsday’s horse-racing writer, he met Secretariat, then 2 years old, in the summer of 1972. Jimmy Gaffney, the exercise rider for Riva Ridge, who had just won that year’s Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, ushered Mr. Nack to Secretariat’s stall.

    At one point he spent 40 consecutive days with Secretariat. “Don’t quote me,” Mr. Nack recalled him saying, “but this horse will make them all forget Riva Ridge.”

    The encounter began a journalistic love affair between Mr. Nack and Secretariat, a chestnut-colored colt with three white feet and a white blaze down his face. Starting in March 1973, Mr. Nack spent 40 consecutive days with Secretariat, joining him at 7 a.m., getting to know his team, taking copious notes and once seeing the horse playfully grab his notebook in his teeth and deposit it on a bed of hay.

    Mr. Nack covered Secretariat’s victories at the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. Then, on the morning of the Belmont Stakes, June 10, 1973, he arrived at Belmont Park at 2 a.m., dozed off in Barn 5, where Secretariat’s stall was, rose to a rooster’s crowing and heard the stable foreman shout, at just past 6 a.m., “Get the big horse ready!”

    About 12 hours later, Secretariat won in record time.

    I swear, I think coverage would be improved by switching good sportswriters to political coverage.

  15. 15
    Schlemazel says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur:
    Let me say this about Mrs. Bush, Karl’s voice will be missed.

    I hope his family can find comfort in knowing he was respected & honored for his work
    I offer the same sympathy to the Bush crime family that Barbra offered to the victims of Katrina as the sweltered in the Superdome

  16. 16
    Elizabelle says:

    @eemom: I am cheering you.

  17. 17
    Jeffro says:

    @Elizabelle: way harder

  18. 18
    rikyrah says:

    They were married for over 70 years. I feel bad for 41😢 With the way that he has been looking, I thought that he would go first.

  19. 19
    hervevillechaizelounge says:


    Since this is Balloon Juice I’ve come not to praise Granny Barb but to celebrate the presence of one less republican at the polls—but I would like to say something nice.

    I always respected the fact that Babs aged unapologetically; so many women (myself included) feel a desperate need to hold onto a youthful appearance—she embraced the gray hair and mother-of-the-bride schmattes with vigor.

    Barbara Bush was many unfortunate things, but at least she wasn’t a slave to beauty industry. Vaya con Dios, Abuelita Barb!

  20. 20
    chopper says:


    he arrived at the White House at 2 a.m., dozed off in the Oval Office where trump’s desk was, rose to a cell phone ringing and heard the chief of staff shout, at just past 6 a.m., “Get the big asshole ready!”

  21. 21
    ruemara says:

    @rikyrah: Ditto.

    As I said on someone’s post, I have no appreciation for her, but I do wish condolences and peace for her friends & family. She had some level of kindness, as others have pointed out. Glad her passing was on her own terms.

  22. 22
    Shell says:

    refused all medical intervention except bourbon

    Hmm, when I get near my end and I opt for hospice, wonder whT will be my tipple of choice. Maybe a little Applejack, (Calvados is too refined.) Take a long sip and dream of autumn fruit and falling leaves.

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    Meh. Sucks for her family.

    That’s all I’ve got.

    Oh, except that my dad also died of COPD/severe emphysema and was lucid pretty much until he slipped into a coma towards the end, so nothing too surprising there.

  24. 24
    Mnemosyne says:


    I would probably lean towards rum if I’m allowed to add some ginger beer or limeade.

  25. 25
    notoriousJRT says:

    @chopper: barbara bush was a tough old broad, i’ll give her that.
    I will give her that, too. I believe she was neither unalloyed good nor unalloyed evil. She was patrician through and through, though, and all that goes with that. WaPo had a moving story about the illness and death of daughter, Robin. She and Sr. kept the terrible truth from W. Maybe the times so dictated, but I feel sorry for W. for that (nearly alone). I come neither to praise nor to bury. She can RIP without more from me. But, I will toast her meeting of the end.

  26. 26
    Betty Cracker says:

    The Obamas are classy, of course:

  27. 27
    Elizabelle says:

    @chopper: LOL. Yeah, pretty much.

  28. 28
    Elizabelle says:

    @Betty Cracker: I do not want either Obama passing a day before aged 92.

  29. 29
    dogwood says:

    A few years back I read a book about the Residence staff at the WH. Lots of on-the-record interviews with retired staff, many who had worked 50+ years there. An elderly AA gentleman who had retired around ‘98 was asked if he would have liked to have been in the WH when the Obamas moved in. Of course he, said it would have the most amazing thing to have still been there. But he also said he was sad to see W go because that meant HW and Barbara wouldn’t be coming to DC as often, and they always came to see him and took him out to dinner, or brought dinner in when they were in town. Babs still called him once a week though, so he was happy about that. She’s probably the last republican FLOTUS who will be allowed to be openly Pro-Choice.

  30. 30
    Chacal Charles Calthrop says:

    I wish I could say something nice about her, but apart from her Eleanor of Acquitaine-like accomplishment of being married to one president and being the mother of another, all I can remember about her is her heartlessness over the Katrina refugees, when she said that going to Texas “worked out very well for them.”
    If that’s all your legacy from 92 years of privilege, it doesn’t look good. But that’s just IMHO.
    And maybe an explanation for why the young vote Democratic….

  31. 31
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Elizabelle: I’m confident they’ll outlive me, even though I’m younger than them. They take better care of themselves. 🙂

  32. 32
    Ruckus says:

    I was taught that in instances like this that if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all.
    Nothing At All.

  33. 33
    notoriousJRT says:

    I thought he would go first, too. It may be that he follows quickly. It so often happens.

  34. 34
    Elizabelle says:

    public service is an important and noble calling; as an example of the humility and decency that reflects that very best of the American spirit.

    So much shade thrown there at today’s resident, it’s dark in here.

    And they will not be recycling that statement for Trump, when he eventually kicks.

  35. 35
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Elizabelle: That will be a national day of rejoicing, at least in my house.

  36. 36
    Karen Potter says:

    No matter how others may think or feel about Barb Bush, her passing leaves a hole for those who loved and cared for her. Her family will miss her, what they are going through is the loss of someone who has been there for all of their lives.

  37. 37
    eemom says:


    when he eventually kicks.

    uh oh, now I’m giggling uncontrollably. That will be a happy day indeed. It will also be fucking hilarious watching people try to say nice things about him.

  38. 38
    mai naem mobile says:

    Dolt45s WH statement about the death has 2017 instead of 2018.

  39. 39
    Elizabelle says:

    @Betty Cracker: The sooner the better.

  40. 40
    Ruckus says:

    For him I won’t even be able to say, Nothing At All.

  41. 41
    Elizabelle says:

    Taken with that beautiful picture of them, when so young. They never would have dreamed the trajectory of their lives.

  42. 42
    Ruckus says:

    @mai naem mobile:
    He’s not suffering from dementia, no, not at all.
    He does hire the best people to check his work though.

  43. 43
  44. 44
    lamh36 says:

    RIP to her and condolences to her family.

    But I still remember Katrina (I had family evacuated there)…that’s all I will say about her other than condolences to her family.

  45. 45
    Ben Cisco says:

    Condolences to her family for their loss. Burying a parent is a sorrow. That is all.

  46. 46
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I disagreed with her on many issues. But I never despised her, and I’m not going to say or write anything negative about her tonight. Comfort and peace to her family, who, I am sure, loved her and will miss her very much.

  47. 47
    hellslittlestangel says:

    She was sick anyway, so I’m sure death is working very well for her.

  48. 48
    dogwood says:

    That reminds me of my favorite Barbara Bush Flotus moment. She was being interviewed by some female reporter who asked her how she felt about the critics who said she wasn’t well-dressed. She answered that she disagreed, claiming she was well-dressed, but just not very good-looking. The reporter abruptly changed the subject.

  49. 49
    J R in WV says:


    Well done!!! I won’t say anything about Mrs Bush to add to your comment!!

    My mom died of COPD, and told dad (after he called 911 not long before she died) if he couldn’t stand to be with her as she died, he could go to the other end of the house, but he was NOT to call 911 again. She died in his arms a couple of weeks later.

  50. 50
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Holy cats, just saw an old Bush family portrait and in between Poppy and Bar was a lady I presume to have been Dorothy Walker Bush, the only person who ever intimidated Barbara, if I recall the hundred pages of the Kitty Kelly book I was able to get through before boredom overcame spite. “Holy cats”, cause she looked for all the world like her dopey grandson in full Monty Python old lady drag

  51. 51
    Gin & Tonic says:

    Much as I despise(d) many members of that family, I have to say that Barbara, W, and Laura , in their own ways, did a great deal of good for people with AIDS. They didn’t have any personal reason (that I know of) to do so, but at times when their actions were not necessarily popular or easy, particularly among their people, they did right by those with that awful disease. They stand in stark contrast with Reagan on that front, and deserve credit.

  52. 52
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I’ll bet he’s gone by June. I think he adored her.

    It’s fashionable to cite only the terrible things about Barbara Bush, but she was a high-profile champion of a cause dear to my heart: childhood and adult literacy. That’s special stuff, that is.

  53. 53
    Betty Cracker says:

    @mai naem mobile: It’s a little thing, but the Trump White House is incredibly sloppy that way. I’ve never seen so many bone-headed typos and errors in official statements. It’s embarassing, but a small thing among their many more consequential sins.

  54. 54
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Ben Cisco:


  55. 55
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @mai naem mobile:

    FFS. REALLY???? Jesus Christ, these weak excuses for people.

  56. 56
    Ohio Mon says:

    @J R in WV: That is a great story — a testimony to both your parents, and proof that authentic relationships continually evolve.

  57. 57
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Betty Cracker: In my four-plus decades of gainful employment I have found that there’s a strong correlation between getting the little stuff wrong and getting the big stuff wrong.

  58. 58
    dexwood says:

    Was about to write her death leaves me ambivalent. The more I thought about it, the deeper I fell into a so what perspective. I always wondered what was important to her when it came to raising her kids. Then, I went back to not caring one way or another.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gin & Tonic: The Van Halen brown m&ms story….

  60. 60
    Nicole says:

    @Elizabelle: They often do both. Did you read Charlie Pierce’s amazing piece when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown? Gorgeous, gorgeous bit of writing, and kind of funny now, re: his remark about the Chicago Cubs.

    I have two friends who rescued 3 abandoned Thoroughbreds and attempted to bring them to the races. One of the horses made it to exactly one race, but it made for a pretty good story. ESPN did a piece on them and Bill Nack did the narration. It won an Eclipse award, which was pretty neat.

  61. 61
    Karen Potter says:

    We remember people’s mistakes, or when they did or said something that hurt; that blinds us to the good they may have done in their life time. I am reminded of something my grandmother wrote me, she must have known that she didn’t have much time left; she shared secrets that she had kept for 90 some years that she thought I should know.
    We only know the Bush family as it is in the public eye; we don’t know their private lives, we don’t really know or understand what shaped them into the people they were or became. You have to respect someone who chooses how their life will end. With Bourbon!

  62. 62
    Nicole says:

    @hellslittlestangel: Come sit by me.

  63. 63
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @mai naem mobile:

    Have no idea how much of that protocol is graven in stone, so to speak, and how much is invented on the fly.

    I can easily see Melania attending the services, along with Michelle, Laura, Hillary, and Rosalynn. Hard to imagine Trump there, although Barack, W (naturally), Bill, and Jimmy I can easily see.

    I have a terrible feeling I’ve forgotten to mention a former FLOTUS or POTUS. Apologies.

  64. 64
    gwangung says:

    Plus for Barbara Bush: Her letter of support for PFLAG (formerly known as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays).

  65. 65
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Twitter Nixon will be unable to travel. He and Mrs Nixon will tweet their regrets.

  66. 66
    ET says:

    For the longest time I was agnostic towards her but being from New Orleans, her post Katrina comments about things working out well for the New Orleanians in Houston pissed me off an just showed how little she understood anything of the real world. Sort of like her hubby in the grocery store.

  67. 67
    eemom says:


    I’ll bet he’s gone by June. I think he adored her.

    Per #metoo revelations, that didn’t stop him from grabbing asses for 30+ years, including most recently from his wheelchair.

  68. 68
    eemom says:

    @Karen Potter:

    We remember people’s mistakes, or when they did or said something that hurt; that blinds us to the good they may have done in their life time.

    “The evil men do live after them; the good is oft interred with their bones; so let it be with Caeser.”

    /old English major

  69. 69
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Karen Potter: Not a fan of Bourbon.

  70. 70
    eclare says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: That M&M story is a classic

  71. 71
    Gelfling 545 says:

    She was from a different era & raised with differeny expectations that didn’t fit terribly comfortably into the present day but was a tough woman who seemed to enjoy life. She was the type of person I’d like to have known though she’d have driven me crazy mostly.

  72. 72
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @eclare: I have used it in classes I taught.

  73. 73
    Anotherlurker says:

    @Schlemazel: The rich are different…..
    As someone who grew up in a North Shore, L.I. town, I can tell you that this is a true statement. Like many in the town, I come from a family of Cooks, Gardeners and the general help. Also, like many, I worked on the Estates, at one time or another. My employers ran the gammut from total, entitled assholes who were “born on third and think they hit a triple” to some of the nicest people I have ever met.
    I never liked Mrs. Bush. She reminded me of some of the worst that I saw in my townspeople and former employers. However, her later work was admirable + you gotta love someone who despised trump as much as she did .

  74. 74
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Indeed.

  75. 75
    Karen Potter says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I am not either, but have to respect that she was; my first mother in law was a fan of bourbon, she also had a glass every night up to the night she passed in her sleep.

  76. 76
    Elizabelle says:

    @Nicole: Thank you for the link. And way cool about the T-breds.

    RIP, Bill Nack.

  77. 77
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I don’t think Poppy will last long without Babs around. Despite all the rumors about Poppy, there was a real connection between them that has been severed, and it may have been key to keeping him alive.

  78. 78
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Betty Cracker: What shocks me is that Kelly, who should have learned this in his shavetail days, lets this shit happen.

  79. 79
  80. 80
    Aleta says:

    Received a robocall from her once. Her candidate (a horrible guy) was the incumbent and in some danger at the time. They pulled her out to help him.

    He won; I don’t know if she mattered; I don’t know if they pressured her into it. I was very disappointed in her ‘feisty independence’ though, because he was racist and made poor people suffer and ashamed. (Guess who. Right.) It had also been said that she believed in staying out of local politics. She either didn’t care, or was poorly informed due to illness or something, or exploited, or couldn’t refuse an offer from the party. Even if she was told Jeb needed this, I would expect a person with a trademarked backbone to abstain if they had any conscience at all.

    I’ll concede that a lot more obedience is forced on female spouses in politics than we can imagine; and that the stories about who they are, are not their own. It must be wretched.

  81. 81
    Aleta says:

    @Ben Cisco: True. And she inspired her granddaughters, to be strong I’m sure.

  82. 82
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Fucking Jarheads.

  83. 83
    SWMBO says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: What is this story? Is there a link to it?

  84. 84
    Scott Alloway says:

    @ruemara: You are kinder than me, but I concur with your sentiment.

  85. 85
  86. 86
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Richard M. Nixon @ dick_nixon
    Where will they hold the memorial? The Astrodome?

    What you all want to say is something we said 45 years ago: Barbara Bush knew how to hate, and that is what made her interesting.

    @Aleta: even I’ll say: Her granddaughters Jenna and Barbara strike me as better than they ought to be, considering the older generations. Their cousin Pierce strikes me as the more expected product of a sense of entitlement that seems to grow with every generation.
    ETA: I guess it’s George Pierce Bush, the one who’s in TX politics and endorsed trump after trump pantsed his father for months. Jeb deserved both.

  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SWMBO: This has the basics.

  88. 88
    seaboogie says:

    I’m down with her love of dogs and going grey naturally when it wasn’t fashionable. The Clintons and Obamas liked and respected her. So I wish her Godspeed and don’t need to quibble about anything else.

  89. 89
    PIGL says:

    @rikyrah: You are a good person.

  90. 90
    Davebo says:

    I met Barbara Bush twice. Needless to say, I won’t be worrying my “beautiful mind” at news of her demise.

  91. 91
    cynthia ackerman says:

    I had the dubious honor, as a pedestrian, of walking into the middle of a conversation between GHWB and Babs in front of the Benson Hotel in Portland, maybe 1999, well before Spawn.

    I promptly stuck my finger down my throat and heaved ho on the sidewalk, while the two of them gave that look that blue bloods do when the help gets out of line.

  92. 92
    Yarrow says:

    Condolences to her family and I’m glad she was able to go on her own terms. I have always had empathy for her for the loss of her daughter when the daughter was a young child. It must have been heartbreaking. Her work with literacy is a legacy that will live on. Wishing peace and comfort for the family at this time.

  93. 93
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yarrow: Losing a child is the worst thing that can happen. I’ve seen it, unfortunately, up front and personal, when my brother passed. My mother and father were devastated.

  94. 94
    MomSense says:

    I have some really nice memories of Barbara Bush. She had a great sense of humor and liked to be in on the joke. I can still see her driving her old station wagon with some not so pleased secret service behind her. She was complicated. Of course I remember what she said in Houston. She and my mom had a connection over some very personal things and corresponded over many years. So it’s complicated. , I’m glad she had a good passing on her terms.

  95. 95
    Marina says:

    This is a real quote from Barbara Bush:

    The former first lady made the following remark on national television shortly before the commencement of the invasion of Iraq:

    ‘Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?’

    I’m fucking sick of hearing about the twinkle in her eye…

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