Barbara Bush, only one of two women in American history to have been both the wife and a mother of a president (Abaigail Adams, wife of John and mother of John Quincy was the other), said in a recent interview with Steve Doocy of Fox News that she took advice from an obituary and canceled her subscription to the New York Times.
The obituary in question, of Leonard M. Smith, was published in the Connecticut newspaper Greenwich Time on January 26, and drew to a conclusion with the following: “In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you cancel your subscription to The New York Times.”
“Did you read that obituary?” she asked Doocy. “It said ‘cancel your New York Times subscription,’ so I did.”
Doocy had asked the former First Lady and First Mother about a March 2 Times column by Maureen Dowd titled “Brace yourself for Hillary and Jeb,” commenting on a possible 2016 presidential race between Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State – and wife of Bill Clinton, the president who defeated Bush’s husband George H.W. for reelection in 1992 and was succeeded by her eldest son, George W., in 2000 – and Mrs. Bush’s next-oldest son (nicknamed Jeb, his given name is John) and former Governor of Florida.
Before the Clinton and Bush families “release their death grip on the American electoral system,” wrote Dowd, “we’re going to have to watch Chelsea’s granddaughter try to knock off George P.’s grandson, Prescott Walker Bush II. Barack Obama, who once dreamed of being a transformational president, will turn out to be a mere hiccup in history, the interim guy who provided a tepid respite while Hillary and Jeb geared up to go at it.”
“I did see, that,” Mrs. Bush said, “and I thought: ‘anything to make news.’”
Nonetheless, she goes on to say that she finds it ridiculous that in a country this size – with a lot of “great governors” – there aren’t other families (other than the Clintons and the Bushes) who can be major political forces.
“Maybe Jeb’s given all he should give,” his mother said, “because he’s worked awfully hard for a long time,” hinting that maybe someone not named Bush should be the Republican nominee. In her trademark fashion of speaking plainly and firmly, rarely changing her facial expression or demeanor and thereby leaving those around her wondering whether she’s being serious or pulling one’s leg, Mrs. Bush added about her second son: “but he is the best qualified person in the country” to be president, “there’s no question about that. Put me down as saying that.” Perhaps the proud Bush Matriarch meant every word of what she said, but also amused herself by the brazen lack of objectivity of her remarks.
Her marriage to George Sr. in 1945, however, was not her first connection to the American presidency. Born Barbara Pierce in New York City in 1925, she is a blood relative (distant cousin) of Franklin Pierce, the 14th U.S. president.
About the oldest Bush brother and 43rd president, she said that as a young mother (she was 21 when George as born), she had the chance to do a lot of things with her children, such as play golf with young George W. “and throw him off the course for profanity.”
“He’s my hero,” she said about her oldest son. It hurts her when people criticize him, and “don’t ever do it in front of me,” she warned. “Don’t do it behind me, either.”