Barbara Bush, Wife of 41st President and Mother of 43rd, Dies at 92
April 17, 2018 7:14 PM   Subscribe

"There were rumors that she favored abortion rights, but she made it clear that she supported her husband and would not say whether she was comfortable with his anti-abortion stand. She was vocal, however, in championing causes of her choosing. Literacy was one, and so was civil rights; she had been an early supporter of the movement."
posted by spicytunaroll (109 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
.
posted by 4ster at 7:22 PM on April 17, 2018


"But why should we hear about body bags, and deaths... Or, I mean, it’s, it’s not relevant. So, why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
posted by entropicamericana at 7:24 PM on April 17, 2018 [63 favorites]


.
posted by COD at 7:30 PM on April 17, 2018


May all of us be able to go with an anonymous source telling the world that we were sipping bourbon on our last day.
posted by zachlipton at 7:36 PM on April 17, 2018 [21 favorites]


A tough, classy, great person.
posted by tgrundke at 7:40 PM on April 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Alensin at 7:42 PM on April 17, 2018


That quote is sensationalist and out of context. She’s talking about wasting your mind on pre-war speculation.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:48 PM on April 17, 2018 [28 favorites]


Seconding St. Peepsburg. The quote, as deployed here, is a cheap shot.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 7:56 PM on April 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


St. Peepsburg --

Fine, if you want to read that as broadly as possible, and ignore the unconscious privilege it reveals (regardless of whether it's about pre-war speculation, she's flat-out saying that she doesn't have to look because it's not her problem), how about this one?

Given on Marketplace in 2005 directly after she and Poppy had just toured the Houston Astrodome, which was serving as temporary shelter for thousands upon thousands of homeless, displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina:
"Almost everyone I’ve talked to says, ‘We’re going to move to Houston.’ What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them."
I'm with kafziel. She was an insulated, racist, classist, privileged monster. I wish I believed in hell.
posted by tzikeh at 7:56 PM on April 17, 2018 [91 favorites]


De mortuis nihil nisi bonum

.
posted by Fizz at 8:00 PM on April 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


A one-of-a-kind woman who was, in my opinion, too complicated to be described as a "monster" or a "saint". I admit to being moved to tears today by this description of her time with her dying three-year-old daughter. (twitter image)
posted by lalex at 8:02 PM on April 17, 2018 [13 favorites]


Barbara Bush Calls Katrina Evacuees 'Better Off', SEPT. 7, 2005

The good that Barbara Bush did was great. And the casual cruelties she said from indifferent privilege were emblematic of wealthy white American feminism.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:03 PM on April 17, 2018 [46 favorites]


I don't think we have to revere someone who is intrinsically part a family that's done terrible damage to the US just because they died. A death can be a time for reflection of a person's life, for good or for bad, not just a moment to pay unearned respects without thought of how they lived their life.
posted by Ferreous at 8:10 PM on April 17, 2018 [58 favorites]


My truest wish is that she and her husband can be reunited for eternity in God's heavenly kingdom, but that he has to identify her with a UPC scanner first.
posted by 7segment at 8:13 PM on April 17, 2018 [15 favorites]


.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:14 PM on April 17, 2018


In the eyes of Metafilter, is there anyone past or present who wasn't horrible?

Stephen Hawking comes to mind.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:16 PM on April 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


Barbara Bush being by most accounts a devoted wife, attentive mother, doting grandmother, and outspoken champion for literacy didn't make her a good person any more than her casual racist assumptions that Katrina refugees were desperate invading poors made her a bad person.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:18 PM on April 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


I’m sure Barbara Bush sucked in many ways, but as someone who was a small child during her reign as First Lady it feels like losing a grandmother. I know there’s a lot of privilege in that previous sentence, but I’m still sad, I can’t be the only older millennial that feels this way. I’ll think of her whenever I get high and watch All Star Cartoons to the rescue.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 8:19 PM on April 17, 2018 [12 favorites]


She had a good run.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:23 PM on April 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


A few of quotes come to mind:

Let them eat cake.

-commonly misattributed to Marie Antoinette

Rich people without wisdom and learning are but sheep with golden fleeces.

-Solon (Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet)

You may be high
You may be low
You may be rich, child
You may be po'
But when the Lord gets ready
You've got to move

-Mississippi Fred Mcdowell
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:29 PM on April 17, 2018 [7 favorites]


Betty_effn_White: Oh god yes, Barbara Bush's greatest lasting cultural legacy should absolutely be Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue.
posted by nicebookrack at 8:31 PM on April 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


.
posted by Melismata at 8:39 PM on April 17, 2018


She was an insulated, racist, classist, privileged monster. I wish I believed in hell.

I'm not a big fan of Barbara Bush, but I'm gonna have to reserve such sentiments for actual sociopaths -- say, Margaret Thatcher, or the one currently occupying Mrs. Bush's former residence.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 8:42 PM on April 17, 2018 [30 favorites]


In light of what we've seen in the White House since, we must take comfort that, even with her glaring flaws, Barbara was the best of the Bush family and easily in the top half of all American First Ladies ever. Maybe not a terribly high standard, but think about this: if she were not a superior human being to her immediate predecessor, it would've been a lot harder for many of us to imagine her immediate successor aspiring a promotion from Wife of the President to President...

.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:45 PM on April 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


[Folks, the metadiscussion needs to go elsewhere.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:55 PM on April 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Silverstone at 9:02 PM on April 17, 2018


the casual cruelties she said from indifferent privilege were emblematic of wealthy white American feminism.

What are you even talking about? There was nothing feminist about Barbara Bush. Nobody ever called her a feminist, least of all herself:

Per the LA Times :

“During her first year in the White House, she was criticized by Liz Carpenter, former press secretary of another first lady, Lady Bird Johnson, for refusing to speak out on issues that were important to women.
In her 1994 memoir, Bush published a response that she wrote but never mailed: "Long ago I decided in life I had to have priorities. I put my children and husband at the top of my list. That's a choice that I never regretted." Abortion rights, the Equal Rights Amendment and gun control were not priorities for her, she wrote.
posted by mrmurbles at 9:18 PM on April 17, 2018 [24 favorites]


I’m not saying I love her, I agree with Kanye on the Bushes, but that quote was narrow focussed.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 9:38 PM on April 17, 2018


Man. I'm conflicted here, but: I wrote in another Metafilter thread that I recently spent some time diving into a pit of Facebook posts written by my former high school classmates. These are people who live in Texas, and they *hated* the Obamas, and the words they used to explain their hatred of the Obamas sent chills down my spine.

However you feel about Barbara Bush, or the Bushes in general, maybe we could set a better example here? Critique all you want, but maybe dial back from the comments using words like 'bags of shit' and 'utter, irredeemable piece of garbage,' because in the end those are the words that level the playing field if we use them too. We can be better than that.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:50 PM on April 17, 2018 [53 favorites]


She was the wife of someone who was elected into office. I sincerely believe the American public made a catastrophic mistake in that election; my condemnation goes to the electorate the put him in office (what do you expect when you elect the head of the CIA to presidency?).

But what she apparently attempted to do with her life: be a good wife, mother, and advocate for literacy were not necessarily monstrous. I will not conflate her husband's actions with hers. I do not accept the premise that it was her responsibility to change her husbands policies or positions.

"She could not possibly have suffered enough." Is not a sentiment that I think is appropriate for any human being, no matter how flawed. I too have dark thoughts when folks that I despise pass away, but I don't feel like a better human being for having those thoughts. I can't recall an instance where I had those thoughts for the spouse of someone I despised.

I am thankful for those that perhaps are able to read because of her advocacy. She understood her (unpaid) role to advocate for a single non-partisan cause, and chose a reasonable one.

.
posted by el io at 9:51 PM on April 17, 2018 [33 favorites]


(recent MetaTalk about the use of words like "garbage" to describe a person)
posted by lalex at 9:55 PM on April 17, 2018 [8 favorites]




That's a low energy Bush
posted by bookman117 at 10:32 PM on April 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


She was a member of the ruling class, If she wasn't a class traitor, she isn't worth celebrating
posted by AnhydrousLove at 10:37 PM on April 17, 2018 [13 favorites]


Good rıddance
posted by fleacircus at 10:45 PM on April 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


She was the spouse of a ruler, not one herself. How is it that anyone can be so personally offended by a spouse?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:57 PM on April 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


.
posted by mmoncur at 11:02 PM on April 17, 2018


Er. Well this is awkward...

Official Women’s March Twitter account: Rest in peace and power, Barbara Bush.


This is the same org that ostentatiously refused to list HRC as an honoree of the 2017 march because she wasn’t progressive enough? JFC, I’m starting to wonder if they're not agents provacateur.
posted by mrmurbles at 11:03 PM on April 17, 2018 [17 favorites]


I don't think we have to revere someone who is intrinsically part a family that's done terrible damage to the US just because they died. A death can be a time for reflection of a person's life, for good or for bad, not just a moment to pay unearned respects without thought of how they lived their life.

Could not agree more. In death does a monster retroactively become good? Off the top of my head I remember a few years ago when Andrew Brietbart died, and many folks here and elsewhere gave grudgingly positive comments about him, even though many of them themselves admitted at the time they were scraping the bottom of the barrel. Now we can feel free to be fully honest about what a sleaze Breitbart was, but the only reason I can see to hold back is the feelings of his closest family, but the fact that he was such a public figure in the first place makes that seem naive and unrealistic. Barbara Bush was most definitely a public figure, so...

But to undercut my own comment: My use of "monster" and "good" must be inaccurate, as people are complex and have the capacity to be both good and bad. BB was the matriarch of a family that has caused massive damage to this country, especially her idiot son. Obviously she's not directly responsible but no doubt was supportive. I wouldn't call her a monster, she must've had some good qualities, but I'll save my dots for those people whose loss makes the world a little dimmer. Barbara Bush may not have hurt things, but I can't see how she helped.
posted by zardoz at 11:33 PM on April 17, 2018 [7 favorites]




.
posted by mumimor at 1:21 AM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]




I can be a little grateful that her ambitions to found a Bush political dynasty to rival the Kennedys didn't turn out as well as she hoped mostly because of the sons she raised with a sense of entitlement to power but no sense of public service or even a goal in mind once they had power. So Dubya and Jeb! slumped into offices on rails greased by their daddies' name and the consiglieres the family provided, too lazy to lead, deputizing their yes-men eager to work behind the scenes ravaging the public sector while the Bush boys took their blows.
posted by at by at 3:23 AM on April 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


.
posted by kimberussell at 3:43 AM on April 18, 2018


A tough customer. She reminds me a lot of my grandmother, whose life as a homemaker is not one that I would wish on all women or all people (although it's a valid and important role for anyone of any gender who feels that it would suit them) and who was definitely very privileged and had a privileged view of the world, but who did a lot of good within that context and who was (and is) profoundly beloved by her family even 20 years after her passing.

Was Barbara Bush perfect? No, of course not. But this is a woman who, at a time when AIDS was a deeply misunderstood, stigmatized, and utterly deadly disease that people thought you could catch just by being near someone who had it, made headline news by having herself photographed cradling an AIDS-afflicted infant. That she was doing it from a position of utmost privilege made it an all the more powerful statement. This is not someone whose life can just be casually written off.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:49 AM on April 18, 2018 [20 favorites]


She was the spouse of a ruler, not one herself. How is it that anyone can be so personally offended by a spouse?

She was born wealthy and lived a life of rarefied privilege. I will not damn her, but I will express a wish that she had used her intelligence and resources for good instead of normalizing and humanizing the anti-American Republican agenda.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:51 AM on April 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


I hear she was a whiz with cold drinks.

.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:08 AM on April 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think she was a person who was trying to use her position to do good, but according to her own viewpoint and priorities. I disagree with her worldview, but we all have a lens through which we see the world and the lens of privilege is one that's very hard to shake off even if you try. Should she have tried harder? Yes, probably. But here are some good things that she did: she supported her family, helped her children succeed in life, campaigned tirelessly for literacy, raised awareness and reduced the stigma of HIV, was an early supporter of the civil rights movement, and spoke out openly and truthfully against Trump.

Was she the kind of person that MeFites like? No. Did her unwillingness to examine her privilege perpetuate inequality in society? Yes. Would it have been better if she had also been an outspoken advocate of feminism? Yes. But I do think that she had a moral compass and tried to follow it, even if it didn't always lead her in quite the direction I would have wanted her to go.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:32 AM on April 18, 2018 [26 favorites]


Her bio at firstladies.org.
posted by taz at 4:36 AM on April 18, 2018


helped her children succeed in life

On the bright side raising her kids to seek out power with no higher sense of purpose or duty has torpedoed her desire to build a political dynasty to rival the Kennedys.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:45 AM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


Since I'm quoting from it I should link to the timely Talking Simpsons episode that just came out where they talk about Two Bad Neighbours and they spend a bit of time talking about how Barbara was portrayed on the show. They mention that the Bushes were the last Northeast establishment Republicans to be president before the true believer conservatives overtook the party.

Barbara getting caught taking a bath and then having to give the tour guide spell about the presedential bathroom in another episode was a great moment, too.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:49 AM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


My point was that wanting success for one's children is something that people around here tend to think is a sign of good parenting. How many people here were told as kids, or have told their own kids, "You can be anything you want when you grow up, even the President!?" That was actually literally true for the Bush children, but it's a sentiment that we tend to valorize when it's uttered by people who belong to our own political tribe.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:51 AM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


The words used to demonize Barbara Bush in some of these posts aren't nearly as disconcerting as the attitude that thinks it perfectly reasonable to do so.
posted by Formfactor at 5:14 AM on April 18, 2018 [15 favorites]


I am not smart enough to know what it means when just 24 hours ago in this space folks practiced forbearance in speaking ill of a freshly-deceased Harry Anderson, but now pick at Barbara Bush before she is even cold. Perhaps I don't want to know.
posted by MorgansAmoebas at 5:16 AM on April 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


.

From outside the US she seemed like a perfectly decent human being, but with flaws and maybe a different moral compass to the majority present here on this site. I get the impression that she had principles and would stick to them, while trying to be as compassionate as she could. And her doing advocacy for AIDS victims in the 80s and 90s, and her holding the baby at the hospice is not nothing.
posted by Harald74 at 5:47 AM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


By the way, the role of first lady in the US (at least to me) is a rather odd one. And that is coming from someone who lives in an actual monarchy. I tried to recall the name of our prime minister's husband, but had to look it up on Wikipedia, and even then the name didn't ring a bell. Creating a semi-formal role for the spouse of the head of state seems to contradict the whole "getting away from royalty" principles behind the founding of the US.
posted by Harald74 at 5:52 AM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


Statement from President and Mrs. Obama on Barbara Bush’s death

That Obama can so effectively troll the Bushes at this point is what's making me tear up a little today.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 6:25 AM on April 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:37 AM on April 18, 2018


Creating a semi-formal role for the spouse of the head of state seems to contradict the whole "getting away from royalty" principles behind the founding of the US.

Oh, we like royalty and we don't at the same time. We like royal families and bling and showing off, we just don't like actual monarchy without any options for voting.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:39 AM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I will hold her (and the rest of the Bushes) responsible for their failure to do one simple thing in the wake of Trump's campaign, nomination, election, and administration: they should have publicly resigned from the Republican party. That she, a Republican public figure, did not do so, makes her complicit. In the end she died a comfortable coward, resting on a legacy of war and death built by her husband and sons.
posted by jedicus at 6:42 AM on April 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


maybe dial back from the comments using words like 'bags of shit' and 'utter, irredeemable piece of garbage,' because in the end those are the words that level the playing field if we use them too

there are no racist slurs grounded in centuries of oppression to leverage at her so, afaik, this is a false equivalency that assumes white upper-class political elites are as culturally vulnerable to the oppression a black man from a middle-class background would face
posted by runt at 6:43 AM on April 18, 2018 [11 favorites]


Vanity Fair 1992 - Barbara Bush's Backlash.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:45 AM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm not feeling the anger and rage at her but I also am left cold by the fond memories. She was one of the more forgettable First Ladies in recent history which is probably how she preferred it.

I have no feelings towards her or her death but to wonder if Poppy Bush is much longer for this world. And also to hope Trump isn't invited to speak at the funeral as I am pretty sure the amount of rolling her grave she would do will cause an earthquake.

Creating a semi-formal role for the spouse of the head of state seems to contradict the whole "getting away from royalty" principles behind the founding of the US.

The older I get the more I think the American War of Independence was a mistake, great musicals aside. The second mistake was not setting up a Westminster system where the head of government and the head of state are two separate roles inhabited by two separate people.
posted by asteria at 6:46 AM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


runt, we actually just had a recent MeTa in which a great many MeFites said that they're deeply uncomfortable with calling people "trash" and "garbage," as those are dehumanizing terms. It's a form of language that has been used by bigots and totalitarians to justify genocide, and it's not a good look when it's taken up by people who claim to be on the side of justice and equality.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:53 AM on April 18, 2018 [19 favorites]


I only met Barbara Bush once.

I was teaching at a small college in Louisiana, one which had close connections to both Bush and Clinton worlds. Our choir students sung in the White House for both Bill Clinton and George Bush(2), for example. One year Barbara Bush was our commencement speaker.

I was late to get into the faculty line - crazy day - and ended up running in behind schedule, trying to get the mortarboard to sit on my head, while picking out my precise spot in the line... and stopped short about one foot away from her, crammed between two Secret Service agents.

She radiated power. It was that older, rich, connected southern white lady power, regal and solar. People were awed by her (remember, this was a liberal arts college, so it wasn't political). The charisma was solid.

I never saw this on tv. It must never have translated into that medium.

I've seen several current and former presidents with Secret Service details, plus a few other high-ranking officials (there was the time we threw snowballs at Ed Meese, and the agents physically carried him away, but that's another story), and every single time the agents were clearly unintimidated by their charge. They were professionals, doing their job. Except here. They were deferential to Barbara Bush.

I can't remember if I shook her hand. I know we didn't speak - I was clearly wrong-footed and in the wrong spot, and was swiftly squeezed back into my place in line (junior faculty section, if you please). But in that moment I rethought and re-understood the entire Bush family.
posted by doctornemo at 6:58 AM on April 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


All I can say is that the Obama family are once again displaying the grace, class and dignity to which I aspire.

Since I have nothing good to say about the Bush's, I will leave it at that.
posted by Space Kitty at 6:59 AM on April 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


It's a form of language that has been used by bigots and totalitarians to justify genocide

versus actual historically rooted racial slurs? it's fine if you want to draw the line higher but my only contention is that calling someone like me a gook is not the same as calling a white person a piece of shit. and the power dynamic here is against an upper-class political elite - don't get your power analysis flipped and think that ruminating on Bush's passing with foul language will ever result in the oppression of rich white politically-connected families at some far future point
posted by runt at 7:08 AM on April 18, 2018 [11 favorites]


That Obama can so effectively troll the Bushes at this point is what's making me tear up a little today.

what?
posted by lalex at 7:18 AM on April 18, 2018 [13 favorites]


No, I'm just saying that something that we revile when it's done by people from the opposing political tribe doesn't magically become OK when it's done by people from within our political tribe. If one of your stated moral premises is that all human beings deserve a baseline level of respect and dignity, we should try to be consistent about it. Begin as you mean to go on, go high when they go low, be the change you wish to see in the world.

All that assumes that a world where all people are treated equally is what you actually want. If in fact you are not working for a world of equality but rather a world in which the systems of oppression are simply inverted, then just speaking personally you and I are not on the same side. I agree that merely insulting powerful people is not going to achieve that goal, but calling people things like "piece of shit," "trash," and "human garbage" exist on a continuum not of equality but of oppression.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:19 AM on April 18, 2018 [21 favorites]


Or to put it more concisely, hate cannot conquer hate. Only love can do that.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:21 AM on April 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


calling people things like "piece of shit," "trash," and "human garbage" exist on a continuum not of equality but of oppression.

you're free to memail me on this but I disagree with this vehemently. language is a tool that has instructive purposes - it is not an oppression. it can be oppressive when used by the privileged against the oppressed but to start framing it now as if this is all a zero-sum game where the points are the same no matter who is carrying out the action is putting the cart very far in front of the horse

if we're tone policing PoC and oppressed communities for their language before we work on decentering whiteness, paying reparations, and the whole lot then you are perpetuating supremacy and hegemony, you are saying 'you must follow this global, colorblind rule because it is proper.'

excuse my language but fuck that

and that this argument would be made to defend Barbara Bush is the height of ridiculousness
posted by runt at 7:25 AM on April 18, 2018 [21 favorites]


Apocryphon: She was the spouse of a ruler, not one herself. How is it that anyone can be so personally offended by a spouse?

She was an extremely prominent public figure who had a huge microphone in American society, and was openly racist and classist her entire life. She also consciously chose not to help American women because it would have meant disagreeing with her husband out loud (the person who claimed above that she was a feminist could not have been more wrong, no matter with what sub-section of feminism they wished to categorize her). I don't know why you are surprised that people are offended by her public racism and classism, or why you think the fact that she was a spouse of one war criminal and a mother of another war criminal should absolve her from anyone taking offense regarding who she was or what she represented.
posted by tzikeh at 7:25 AM on April 18, 2018 [14 favorites]


allowing how people, especially the oppressed, a choice in how they express their frustrations with the world is empowerment, it is not perpetuating hegemonic models

you, me, and everyone here will be long dead before we start seeing the smallest starts to some of the biggest pieces of eliminating oppression. give it a few hundred more years before you start worrying about how people are expressing their feelings about how fucking irredeemably white supremacist Barbara Bush was
posted by runt at 7:30 AM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


She also consciously chose not to help American women because it would have meant disagreeing with her husband out loud

Or, maybe, just maybe, she found the role of wife and mother to be perfectly fulfilling.
posted by tgrundke at 7:30 AM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


.

but also, compare this thread and its framing and responses with the recent "obituary" for Winnie Mandela. We as a white supremacist, imperialist, patriarchal society are comfortable with women who associate with powerful men only in particular ways, who cope with trauma in particular ways, and we are willing to forgive certain people in ways we will never, ever forgive others.
posted by ChuraChura at 7:40 AM on April 18, 2018 [9 favorites]


@Latex, he takes a family built on neoliberalism and frames not just her legacy, but that of her entire family as one of public service.

Maybe it's just me, but I read Obama's entire statement as dripping with conceit.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 7:49 AM on April 18, 2018


No, I'm just saying that something that we revile when it's done by people from the opposing political tribe doesn't magically become OK when it's done by people from within our political tribe.

A teacher once told me "there are hungry philosophies, and there are fed philosophies." It's something that's stuck with me. The belief that matters of opinion are something people can have in a vacuum, sitting around sipping brandies and discussing Matters of the Day, is a fed philosophy.
posted by traveler_ at 7:50 AM on April 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


The belief that matters of opinion are something people can have in a vacuum, sitting around sipping brandies and discussing Matters of the Day, is a fed philosophy.

I don't get it. Unless some people here are saying they want to eat Barbara Bush?
posted by FJT at 7:59 AM on April 18, 2018


[One deleted. Folks, points made all around on the metaconversation about obit threads and language. We can leave it at that, or if people really feel that more discussion of that will be productive, it should happen in Metatalk.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:02 AM on April 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


me: She also consciously chose not to help American women because it would have meant disagreeing with her husband out loud

tgrundke: Or, maybe, just maybe, she found the role of wife and mother to be perfectly fulfilling.

Right in this thread, we have direct quotes from her memoir that she put her husband's opinions before her own about abortion rights and equal rights for women, and she chose to stay silent on those topics when her speaking up could have changed the game for women across America. This has nothing to do with whether she was fulfilled in her roles as a wife and mother; the fact is that she knew how much influence she had as the most prominent woman in American culture, and she chose not to stand up for women because she put her husband's opinions above her own.

This is literally right here in the thread, and it's sourced.
posted by tzikeh at 8:04 AM on April 18, 2018 [11 favorites]


Your kid carelessly kills even one person and you’re a bad mother. He kills hundreds of thousands, and...?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:05 AM on April 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Maybe it's just me, but I read Obama's entire statement as dripping with conceit.

I think it's just you.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:29 AM on April 18, 2018 [13 favorites]


she chose not to stand up for women because she put her husband's opinions above her own.

No. Just no.

I don’t contradict my husband in public, because I grew up in a culture where that Was Not Done, just as I suspect Barbara Bush did. But every time he says something ignorant in public, I spend private time changing my husband’s views and public statements if I think they are wrongheaded and asinine. Because for women raised in the way I suspect we both were, that’s how you do that. You are expected to be the compassion that balances out your husband, but through private rather than public influence.

All of the Bushes publicly condemned Trump and Trumpism, and refused to cast their vote for the Republican Party in 2016. And I suspect without the influence of their matriarch, they would not have. Because her influence is quiet, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, or that she was just deferring to her husband’s opinion at all times just because she didn’t publicly contradict him. The public is far from the only face of influence, particularly as the wife of a powerful man.
posted by corb at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2018 [13 favorites]


Praising Barbara Bush because Trump is somehow worse for the nation than her son was (not remotely so far) is peak hashtag resistance.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:41 AM on April 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


Yep.

I have thoughts, but I've decided to reserve them. We're in the middle of a vicious culture war and I'll save my powder for the living.

I won't miss her, but you gotta respect the work on literacy and AIDS. You also have to admire the forbearance of someone who subsumed her own opinions for her husband's sake. That right there is an act of sacrifice, the kind of sacrifice I think is a precursor to accomplishing anything good. It's a precursor, but not the act of doing good itself. It deserves credit for what it is. I will also argue all day against that, private persuasion, and voluntary submission as effective tactics for changing minds when you're dealing with raw political power and privilege, especially of the Republican variety...but that's because I'm a cantankerous jerk and not everybody is that or is in a position to employ the more direct methods I'm prone to.

.
posted by saysthis at 8:54 AM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]



That quote is sensationalist and out of context. She’s talking about wasting your mind on pre-war speculation.


Thank you.
posted by jgirl at 9:16 AM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


You also have to admire the forbearance of someone who subsumed her own opinions for her husband's sake.

Nah.

Upthread someone mentions how she was unable to create a dynasty to rival the Kennedys. Part of the reason for that, imo, was she was willing to fade into the background. Jackie Kennedy - who was only four years Barbara's junior - came from a similar background, in the same era, and like Barbara was very much Not A Feminist.

But Jackie was an icon, the First Lady of Camelot, partly because she knew how to wield the power given to her. She created that myth and she was active in creating the image of JFK, his presidency, and his legacy before and after his death. She might have been the closest thing we have in real life American politics to a Margaery Tyrell.

Nancy Reagan probably comes closest to holding a similar role in the Republican party. The Bush women, don't. And they don't seem to have done much behind the scenes either. It's kind of interesting as far as politics goes. It could say something about the Republican party and what they feel about the role of women and wives but I'm not sure. Like I said even Nancy Reagan seemed to carve out more of a space and I think Republicans would approve of (wealthy white Christian) women wielding that sort of soft power First Ladies are given. But while Barbara had tons of power, both from her role as First Lady and just being born into the closest thing to American aristocracy, she rarely flexed it.

This isn't a criticism, by the way. Realistically, anything Barbara (or Laura) would have done would have been in service to the odious Bush agenda so it's probably better that they sidelined themselves. It's just interesting to me.
posted by asteria at 9:24 AM on April 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Praising Barbara Bush because Trump is somehow worse for the nation than her son was (not remotely so far) is peak hashtag resistance.

Sure. But some of the performative DGAF grave-tap-dancing I'm seeing from Left Twitter is coming off a bit sweaty, to be honest.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:30 AM on April 18, 2018 [9 favorites]


Oh, we like royalty and we don't at the same time. We like royal families and bling and showing off, we just don't like actual monarchy without any options for voting.

It's kinda like our stance on the separation of church and state.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:31 AM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't know! I don't care for the Bushes, and I don't think they were a net positive on the country, but I agree that the grave-dancing is unseemly. Part of me wonders why the people who dislike her can't just take their thoughts to another thread. That said, my graciousness might actually be indifference. I'm too young to have much ire reserved for the elder Bushes. If Metafilter and I are both alive in 70 years when Ivanka croaks of some rich person's disease....well, I will probably not take my dancing to another thread, either.

Barbara radiated a certain toughness. I guess that was the charisma noted upthread. I don't think that is a moral good, either, but I have a soft spot for stubborn old ladies.

.
posted by grandiloquiet at 9:58 AM on April 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 10:00 AM on April 18, 2018


That quote is sensationalist and out of context. She’s talking about wasting your mind on pre-war speculation.

How on earth is it a waste of time to consider the potential negative consequences of war before that war happens?

Really, you have to be a special kind of asshole to think that you're basically too good to be troubled with information about people dying as the result of your child's policy decisions.

I mean, I worry about whether or not my kid is nice to the other kids in school. But I guess my mind isn't beautiful.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:23 AM on April 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


Barbara reminds me a great deal of my grandmother. Unlike Barbara, she grew up the poor eldest daughter of illiterate immigrants who ran her father's businesses (because he couldn't read), ran her brother-in-law's business, raised money for immigrant-support organizations, had an immense network of friends and was truly the matriarch of the family. She was loved, respected, feared and adored. Didn't suffer fools, and always got her way - whether it was with direct action, or subtle, behind the scenes work.

Above all, she didn't put up with any kind of whining, from anyone.

So yeah, Barbara Bush reminds me quite a bit of my grandmother. That ain't a bad thing in my book.
posted by tgrundke at 10:39 AM on April 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


Another shitty person has left the world. A shitty wife to a shitty president who raised shitty children and gods am I not looking forward to when her hubby kicks the bucket, hopefully soon.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:57 AM on April 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


The thing that I remember most about Barbara Bush are her remarks about Katrina refugees who were moved to Texas. That's enough to make the argument that she's a crappy person, and though she's probably a crappy person who did some good stuff, I still hold a pretty negative view of her.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:01 AM on April 18, 2018 [7 favorites]


How on earth is it a waste of time to consider the potential negative consequences of war before that war happens?

That's the thing.

I'll always remember her as publicly stating that she couldn't be troubled to consider how my fellow service men and women returned from her son's war.
posted by MrJM at 11:05 AM on April 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


From the late, oh-so-desperately missed David Rakoff (seriously, I still get weepy when I remember he's gone):

“For most of my life, I would have automatically said that I would opt for conscientious objector status, and in general, I still would. But the spirit of the question is would I ever, and there are instances where I might. If immediate intervention would have circumvented the genocide in Rwanda or stopped the Janjaweed in Darfur, would I choose pacifism? Of course not. Scott Simon, the reporter for National Public Radio and a committed lifelong Quaker, has written that it took looking into mass graves in former Yugoslavia to convince him that force is sometimes the only option to deter our species' murderous impulses.

While we're on the subject of the horrors of war, and humanity's most poisonous and least charitable attributes, let me not forget to mention Barbara Bush (that would be former First Lady and presidential mother as opposed to W's liquor-swilling, Girl Gone Wild, human ashtray of a daughter. I'm sorry, that's not fair. I've no idea if she smokes.) When the administration censored images of the flag-draped coffins of the young men and women being killed in Iraq - purportedly to respect "the privacy of the families" and not to minimize and cover up the true nature and consequences of the war - the family matriarch expressed her support for what was ultimately her son's decision by saying on Good Morning America on March 18, 2003, "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? I mean it's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"

Mrs. Bush is not getting any younger. When she eventually ceases to walk among us we will undoubtedly see photographs of her flag-draped coffin. Whatever obituaries that run will admiringly mention those wizened, dynastic loins of hers and praise her staunch refusal to color her hair or glamorize her image. But will they remember this particular statement of hers, this "Let them eat cake" for the twenty-first century? Unlikely, since it received far too little play and definitely insufficient outrage when she said it. So let us promise herewith to never forget her callous disregard for other parents' children while her own son was sending them to make the ultimate sacrifice, while asking of the rest of us little more than to promise to go shopping. Commit the quote to memory and say it whenever her name comes up. Remind others how she lacked even the bare minimum of human integrity, the most basic requirement of decency that says if you support a war, you should be willing, if not to join those nineteen-year-olds yourself, then at least, at the very least, to acknowledge that said war was actually going on. Stupid fucking cow.”

― David Rakoff, Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems

posted by ersatzkat at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2018 [17 favorites]


But some of the performative DGAF grave-tap-dancing I'm seeing from Left Twitter is coming off a bit sweaty, to be honest.

You prepare for Henry Kissinger with the dead plutocrats you have, not the dead plutocrats you'd like to have.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:45 PM on April 18, 2018


.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 2:51 PM on April 18, 2018


Fresno State Professor Calls Barbara Bush 'An Amazing Racist' And Provokes Twitter Backlash.

Jarrar also called Bush the mother of a war criminal, which, well, I can't find the lie.
posted by TwoStride at 4:32 PM on April 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


.
posted by riruro at 4:38 PM on April 18, 2018


> TwoStride:
"Fresno State Professor Calls Barbara Bush 'An Amazing Racist' And Provokes Twitter Backlash."

I think she may have been too old to compete on that reality TV show. A lot of running involved. Wait, I got confused.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 4:59 PM on April 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Like some other posters, Barbara reminds me keenly of my own grandmother. They actually both attend(ed) the same church in Houston following Bush's presidency. My birds and the bees speech was her wandering up to me, a bit tipsy, and letting me know that the Family "might be Repubilcan, but we donate a LOT of money to Planned Parenthood, so... you know".

I meditate a lot on the distinction between privilege and power. My grandfather has privilege and power, while my grandmother's access to power is dependent on not using her privilege in a way that upsets my grandfather.

They separated a few years ago. It turns out that he had spent every penny of community property, and only had his inheritance to fund their retirement. I mean, it's plenty. But the result is that she's 86 years old, and her financial survival depends on the generosity of a man who made the decision to keep her completely dependent on him.

I still believe that as a privileged person, I have a responsibility to feel more uncomfortable and be willing to make the people around me feel uncomfortable. I am still on shaky ground with my family after the 2016 election. I'd like to think it's made them question their beliefs a little. But mostly I'm pretty sure I'm dismissed as an ungrateful child, hysterical, bitter, jealous and all those other adjectives we make to discount women's voices.

So I'm disappointed Barbara Bush didn't do more good with her life. But I won't condemn her for failing to change the actions of the men around her, and I understand why she might feel the need to stay silent on issues deemed unladylike to reserve her capital for the bits of policy men might allow her.
posted by politikitty at 5:33 PM on April 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


Randa Jarrar was on the mark with her political comments.

That said, she showed poor judgment by tweeting a phone number that she said was hers, but actually connected callers with a crisis line for Arizona State University students.
posted by virago at 7:32 PM on April 18, 2018


I like the steadfastness and devotion it takes to stay married for 73 years. There’s just something admirable in that.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:47 PM on April 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


That said, she showed poor judgment by tweeting a phone number that she said was hers, but actually connected callers with a crisis line for Arizona State University students.

I support her free speech rights, but that's actually a profoundly shitty thing to have done, and unless it was a dreadful mistake, it's way beyond poor judgment.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 11:44 AM on April 19, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm no big fan of Mrs. Bush, yet I find some of the comments here vindictive. I recently had a strange night where i ended up working with the Secret Service for a big Obama family party and I asked myself- would I do this for Bush, or the other Bush, or a hypothetical Prez Mcain, or Romney? The answer kept coming back yes. Then I asked myself if Ii would do it for our, you know, current prez and the answer was a big no.

I bring that up because I just found this bit about her by a Secret Service agent who knew her, and i sure hope someone has as nice things to say about me when I wheeze my last: Barbara Bush's code name was perfect.
posted by vrakatar at 5:59 PM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


That was actually a profoundly shitty thing to have done, and unless it was a dreadful mistake, it's way beyond poor judgment.

I don't disagree. I volunteered for several years on a domestic violence hotline in a rural area. I'd have been beyond pissed if we'd had to field a flood of misdirected rants at the same time that someone in crisis needed our help getting a restraining order or a ride to the closest shelter, an hour away.

Jarrar's spamming a university crisis line wasn't punching up, that's for damn sure.
posted by virago at 8:21 PM on April 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


That was actually a profoundly shitty thing to have done, and unless it was a dreadful mistake, it's way beyond poor judgment.

Agreed. I mean - I don't know that she should be disciplined as a professor because of it, but it's still shitty.
posted by corb at 10:06 AM on April 20, 2018


« Older O Moldy Night   |   (they first learned to manipulate time to make... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments