Category Archives: Bush Family

President George H.W. Bush: 1924-2018

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“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died. George H. W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.” –Former President George W. Bush

As I sit in the early morning darkness with only the glow from the Christmas tree to keep me light, I’m reflecting on the life of President George H.W. Bush who passed away last night at the age of 94. A few thoughts as the news settles over me….

A good man is gone. He outlived his beloved Bar who preceded him by seven months.

In an age when the GOP appears to have lost its way, and when civility and decency continue to decline, the loss of #Bush41 is felt even keener. As a friend noted, “The morning dawns a little dimmer today. George H.W. was the graceful, strong, calm and loyal conservative – a rarer and rarer breed. Now belongs to the ages….”

It’s not a total surprise. President Bush was 94 years old and had been in ill health in recent years. Still….

I walked to the bookcase and took out one of the books about the Bush family, whom I have admired for all the reasons today’s politics grates on my last nerve.

The former president’s book, “All the Best, George Bush: My Life in Letters and Other Writings,” was given to me Christmas 2000 by my then fifteen-year-old son. President Bush, a prolific communicator, left a treasure trove of letters and notes to family, friends, colleagues, and people he met along the way.

He was known for his maturity and straight-forward approach to life, lessons learned from his mother who taught him to put others first and help others feel better about themselves, to be humble, and to serve and not expect to be served.

As the day unfolds and tributes to this great public servant continue, perhaps Americans will pause to reflect on the decency, character, and respect represented by President Bush, who urged that we be a kinder, gentler nation.

“There could be no definition of a successful life that does not include service to others.” –President George H.W. Bush


As I reflect more on #Bush41’s passing, my memory just flashed back to late 1990s when my sister, who lived in Austin, called to share news about her new job. She knew what an admirer of the Bush family I was so she said I may want to sit down to hear the news. Then she announced that she was going to work as speech writer for my hero.

“George Bush?” I asked incredulously. At that time George W had not been president so everyone referred to the first Bush president as George Bush.

No, she responded … George W, the current governor of Texas. That was okay … he was also my hero and went on to become president, only the second father-son team to do so in the history of this nation.

Cover photo from the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Cross-posted at

Seventeen Septembers Later

9-11 18 North Tower collapse

Please join us over at Bearing Drift as we remember September 11, 2001 — the most tragic day in American history.

Where were you on that day? Some share their stories.

Meanwhile, a timeline is playing out during the day, posted on Bearing Drift in real time as events unfolded that fateful day, with links also posted on Bearing Drift’s Facebook page and Twitter @BearingDrift.

As I noted this morning on my Facebook page:

It’s been seventeen Septembers since the horror of the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Those too young to remember can never understand the feelings of the many who lived through it. This is a day to remember and reflect.

The toll on 9/11: Nearly 3,000 people died as a result of hijacked aircraft flown into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Flight 93’s crash into a Pennsylvania field to prevent the same tragedy in the Nation’s capital.

First responders who perished included 340 firemen and 60 police officers.

First responders who rushed into the dust and debris are now suffering from respiratory and other illnesses.

On this anniversary my thoughts always turn to friend Philip Lynch, a retired New York police officer who was part of the 9/11 rescue mission at the Twin Towers and who moved to Augusta County over a decade ago. His thoughts on a day that still affects many:

“Since then 9/11 first responders have cancer at a rate 15 percent higher than their peers. Many responders have other ailments. Some have PTSD. Some have lost their sense of taste or smell. Some have developed other problems such as dependence on prescription drugs, or alcohol to deal with the stress, and survivor guilt.”

Phil adds, “Please remember those who have been on the frontlines in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pennsylvania, DC, and NY.”

Never ever forget.

President Bush #41 in Intensive Care – Updated

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This photo (photographer Paul Morse through the George H.W. Bush office) went viral when it captured a moment in time with “former U.S. presidents and first ladies posing with former President George H.W. Bush at the funeral of his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, in Houston on April 21, 2018.” Taken just before the funeral service: Laura Bush, former President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and current First Lady Melania Trump.


Twenty-one years ago this month my Aunt Ruth passed away in a hospital in Richmond after a brief battle with cancer. A little over two months later her husband, our Uncle Claude, followed after suffering a heart attack.

We weren’t surprised.

Married in the 1940s, they never had children and were dedicated to each other. In the absence of kids of their own, she had taken care of him through a heart attack in his 30s and diabetes later in life, administering his meds and monitoring his diet. After she was gone, I suspect he felt a bit lost after so many years together.

On Sunday former President George H.W. Bush was hospitalized, one day after burying his wife of 73 years who had passed away four days earlier. A statement from his office shared the news:

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The nation is praying for the 93-year-old Bush patriarch as he battles this latest health setback in the immediate aftermath of his loss. Theirs is a love story that will continue long after they are gone.

Updated May 5: The former President was released from the hospital.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush’s Health Declining

I gravitated to the bookcase this afternoon and pulled out the 1994 memoir written by former First Lady Barbara Bush, her smiling face on the cover looking back at me as I fanned through the pages of photos from Bush family highlights throughout the years.

On this spring Sunday afternoon, an official statement was issued from the office of former President George H.W. Bush about his wife:

Barbara Bush. What a lady. Ever gracious even while being a rock who anchored her family to reality amidst their wealth, she wielded a wit that endeared her to the nation.

Her book dedication gives a glimpse of this remarkable wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother: “To faith, family, and friends; and to George Bush who taught me that these are the most important things in life.”

Indeed. Their love story began when they were 16 and 17 … and it continues to this day, as noted in an April 4, 2018, story in USA Today:

It’s been decades, but Barbara Bush is still very much in love with her husband.

The former first lady wrote about former president George H. W. Bush in a note for the spring edition of Smith College’s alumnae magazine.

“I am still old and still in love with the man I married 72 years ago,” Barbara Bush wrote in the life updates section for the magazine.

In the Preface of “Barbara Bush: A Memoir,” she wrote:

“George Bush knows how I feel. He is the hero.”

And in an earlier paragraph of the Preface, Mrs. Bush noted:

“I also note that we seem to weep a lot in this book. We are an emotional group and rather like a good tear or two. Please also notice that we cry when we are glad and when we are sad. Love brings a tear. Friends bring a tear. A smile, sweetness, even a kind word brings a tear.”

There are probably some tears today with the sad news of Mrs. Bush’s failing health, even as she is wrapped in prayers and love. Thinking of the entire Bush family at this difficult time….

Easter Egg Roll at the White House 2002

Easter 2002 White House

Easter 2002 … the White House Egg Roll hosted by President George W. Bush and First lady Laura Bush.

One of my sisters worked in the President’s administration so my mother, other sister, the two six-year-old nieces, and my 14-year-old daughter were guests for an extraordinary day.

It was the first Egg Roll after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Security was tight but there was a light-hearted atmosphere as children raced around the lawn, and special attractions invited by the White House entertained including animal specialist Jack Hanna.

Easter 3 WH eggs 2002 (2)

Commemorative wooden pastel-colored Easter eggs inscribed with the event and date were given to all. Every Easter they are on display at our house. The Easter Roll has been a tradition since 1878, and every U.S. President has hosted this family-friendly tradition.

It was a special day that we have not forgotten….

Photo courtesy of George W. Bush Presidential Library

Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter Honor Zell Miller at Funeral

Zell Miller, former Marine, Democratic Georgia Governor and U.S. Senator, and the first person in American history to be the keynote speaker at both parties’ presidential conventions, was honored Tuesday when three former U.S. Presidents — one Republican and two Democrats — honored him at his funeral: George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter.

Republican, Democrat, and Democrat … a bipartisan respect.

In 2004 U.S. Senator Miller endorsed Republican President George W. Bush for reelection after the devastation of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks. Miller did not endorse his party’s nominee John Kerry because, as he said, Kerry voted against bills for defense and weapon systems that Zell felt weakened our military as they battled terrorism at home and around the world.

“The Spitball Speech,” as we called it at GOP headquarters in Staunton that fall of 2004, was vintage Zell Miller who didn’t give a dang if you were Republican or Democrat when it came to the defense of America. (See transcript of his remarks here.)

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2004: Democrat Zell Miller Endorsed Republican George W. Bush at RNC Convention

“… nothing makes this Marine madder than someone calling American troops occupiers rather than liberators.” — Sen. Zell Miller, 1 Sept 2004, Republican National Convention, NYC

With the passing of Georgia U.S. Senator Zell Miller (see Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter Honor Zell Miller at Funeral), it’s good to remember his keynote speech at the Republican National Convention held in late Augusta-early September in 2004 when Miller endorsed President George W. Bush who was running for reelection.

America had been attacked on September 11, 2001, by terrorists who piloted hijacked airplanes into New York City’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon outside D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania where Flight 93 crashed into a rural field due to passengers who overtook the terrorists to prevent the plane from crashing into the White House or U.S. Capitol building.

As some Democrats turned against the war, others crossed the aisle. Both Republicans and Democrats, grateful for the wartime president’s leadership after the deaths of 3,000 people on American soil, crushed our local GOP headquarters in Staunton to support the reelection of President Bush.

We opened early that year, in August instead of mid-September, to be available for those who wanted materials, signs, voter registration, or to just vent. We had held Support the Troops rallies since early in 2002; we had sent care packages to military service members deployed in Iraq. And that fall we were the busiest we had ever been for any election in the eight years that I ran the local headquarters.

At headquarters we called it “The Spitball Speech” because of Zell Miller’s line, “This is the man who wants to be the Commander in Chief of our U.S. Armed Forces? U.S. forces armed with what — spitballs?”

It was inspirational, and it energized the Republican grassroots. I wrote about the speech and am reposting it here in honor of a man who selflessly served his country. He was a Marine veteran who was furious that the Democratic Party was not supporting our troops. Emphasis added:

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Mother’s Day with Barbara and George W. Bush: Then and Now

Happy Mother’s Day to America’s former First Lady.

Barbara Bush with her first-born son, George W. Bush.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush (#Bush41) with son former President George W. Bush (#Bush43).

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Former Lt. Gov. John Hager Honored by Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership

Photo courtesy of Del. Richard Anderson.

Former Lieutenant Governor John Hager. Photo courtesy of UVa Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.

The University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership dedicated its Spring Gala earlier this month to honoring former Lieutenant Governor John Hager for his services to Sorensen and to the Commonwealth. The Gala, an annual fundraiser dinner held in Richmond that brought in Sorensen alumni and friends, also included a silent auction and a jazz band.

John Hager, who has worked closely with Sorensen and is the immediate past Chairman of the Sorensen Institute Statewide Advisory Board, is a pillar in the ranks of Virginia Republicans and a supporter of the party for decades who served as Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth from 1998-2002 during Governor Jim Gilmore’s administration.  Throughout the years, John Hager was Director of Homeland Security for Virginia, Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education, Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, and served on numerous other boards and organizations. He also served as Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services from 2004-07, nominated by President George W. Bush in the years before Hager’s son, Henry, met and married the president’s daughter, Jenna, in 2008.

During the program that included remarks from notable leaders, the Lieutenant Governor was presented with an award that was inscribed with the Sorensen Institute logo and the following words:

John H. Hager

In recognition

of extraordinary service to the

Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership

and to the Commonwealth of Virginia

April 3, 2017

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George W. Bush To Attend Ed Gillespie Fundraiser

Ed Gillespie will have help on his gubernatorial campaign when a fundraiser to be held this weekend in Texas will be attended by his old boss, former President George W. Bush.

Gillespie, who was the state chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia in 2006, left to serve as the president’s top aide toward the end of the Bush administration. Gillespie also served as chairman of the Republican National Committee.

CNN reported:

“Ed will travel to Dallas this week to raise money for his campaign. He’s proud to have the support of President Bush and conservative leaders from across the commonwealth and the country,” said Abbi Sigler, a Gillespie spokeswoman. “This is a crucial campaign for Virginia Republicans, and Ed will work tirelessly to ensure we have the resources necessary to defeat Ralph Northam or Tom Perriello in November, and bring conservative leadership back to Richmond.”

The latest polls show Gillespie 25 points ahead of his nearest competitor, and ahead of both Democratic candidates in a hypothetical head-to-head contest.

Here are the numbers:

Head to Head Match ups:

  • Gillespie 40, Northam 39
  • Gillespie 39, Perriello 39
  • Northam 41, Stewart 33
  • Perriello 40, Stewart 34
  • Northam 40, Wagner 34
  • Perriello 38, Wagner 35

Among Independents:

  • Gillespie 40, Northam 30
  • Gillespie 40, Perriello 30

The Republican Primary is June 13 when Gillespie will be on the ballot with Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner. The winner will go on to compete in the general election against either Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, or former Congressman Tom Perriello.

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George W. Bush Addresses Media, Travel Ban, Russia on ‘Today Show’

In 2006, after 10 minutes of hilarious self-deprecating humor, President George W. Bush ended his remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner by thanking his side-kick, comedian Steve Bridges, and the dinner attendees with these words: “I want to thank Steve for being part of this fun evening. As most of my predecessors have known, it’s really important to be able to laugh in this job, and I thank you for giving us the chance to laugh with you tonight.”

“It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.” -President George W. Bush (February 27, 2017)

Former President George W. Bush sat down with Matt Lauer on the “Today Show” on Monday, and answered some tough questions head-on. For a president who stays in the background and refuses to be critical of current or past presidents, this time he was frankly honest as he responded to issues currently plaguing the Donald Trump administration.

Even as Trump’s war on the media continues and even ramps up, the video above reminds of the self-deprecating humor of George W. Bush during his years in the White House. As he noted in the video, “As most of my predecessors have known, it’s really important to be able to laugh in this job, and I thank you for giving us the chance to laugh with you tonight.” This was after he had been excoriated by the press and Democrats for six years; yet, he did not stay away from the correspondents’ annual dinner or stand them up. He played along, and was hilarious while doing so.

Here, in a nut shell, are the subjects touched on with Matt Lauer, as compiled by my journalist sister.

On the questions of RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE in the presidential election last year and Trump team contacts:
“I think we all need answers … I’m not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered.”

“I think it’s very important for all of us to recognize one of our great strengths is for people to be able to worship the way they want to or to not worship at all. A bedrock of our freedom is the right to worship freely.

“I understood right off the bat that this was an ideological conflict and people who murder the innocent are not religious people — they want to advance an ideology and we have faced those kinds of ideologues in the past.

“I am for an immigration policy that’s welcoming and upholds the law.”

On Trump attacks on the FREE PRESS:
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account… Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse power, whether it be here or elsewhere… It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves.”

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Jenna Bush Hager Tweets Her Dad’s 2001 ‘Islam Is Peace’ Remarks

Pledging his support, President George W. Bush talks via telephone Thursday, Sept. 13, 2001, to New York Gov. George Pataki and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.  Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

In remarks that lasted a total of seven minutes, President George W. Bush calmed an uneasy nation and the world just six days after the horrific terrorist attacks of 9/11. It was September 17, 2001, and he was at the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C.

In the days following the worst attacks the U.S. had ever experienced on American soil, as the nation mourned the deaths of 3,000 innocent victims, the president knew he had to prevent wide-spread panic. Not far from the White House, he delivered his message, reaching out to the Muslim population as well as America and the global community, with a message of tolerance.

“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” he told those in attendance. “That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

He continued, “America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country.  Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads.  And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.”
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Former First Couple Barbara, George H.W. Bush Hospitalized

030906-N-2383B-039 Newport News, Va. (Aug. 26, 2003) -- President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush share applause with Adm. Vern Clark, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), as they watch the Navy's parachute team "The Leapfrogs" perform during a keel laying ceremony honoring the building of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). This will be the 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier as it undergoes the first of four ceremonial traditions that will happen throughout the life of the warship. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer's Mate Johnny Bivera. (RELEASED).

Newport News, Va. (Aug. 26, 2003) — President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush share applause with Adm. Vern Clark, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), as they watch the Navy’s parachute team “The Leapfrogs” perform during a keel laying ceremony honoring the building of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). This will be the 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier as it undergoes the first of four ceremonial traditions that will happen throughout the life of the warship. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Johnny Bivera. (RELEASED).

Sad news came from Houston Wednesday morning with the report that former President George H.W. Bush, 92, had been hospitalized after trouble breathing as a result of pneumonia.

By mid-day he had been moved to intensive care, and his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, had also been hospitalized as a precaution after illness:

The 41st president was placed in the ICU to address “an acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia,” McGrath said. He later told The Associated Press that doctors were happy with how the procedure went.

… Barbara Bush, who is 91, had not been feeling well for a couple of weeks, “and it finally just got to the point this morning where she said she wanted to take it out of committee and have the experts check it out.”

The Bushes recently celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary, making them the longest married presidential couple in history:

The former president and first lady celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary on Friday. After a long-distance courtship, the two wed on Jan. 6, 1945. The lovebirds met at a dance in 1941 when George Bush was 16 years old and Barbara was home from boarding school during a holiday break. They were engaged right before Bush was shipped overseas as a naval pilot during World War II and married in Rye, N.Y.

John and Abigail Adams were married 54 years, the second longest of presidential couples. George H.W. served as President Ronald Reagan’s vice president for eight years before becoming president from 1989-1993. Thoughts and prayers go up to the former president and first lady.

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If Jeb were the nominee

Jeb BushAs I listened to Donald Trump use ISIS as his safe space every time he didn’t know the answer to a question during Sunday’s presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, it reminded of one of the original seventeen candidates, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and his deep and intense knowledge of policy plus his boots-on-the-ground experience from eight years serving the citizens of Florida.

If Jeb had been our nominee, we would not have had the just-released audio tape with Trump making lewd comments directed against women in the most crude of ways. We would have a man who would have known policy to the nth degree in Sunday’s debate, and would have been able to meet Hillary eye-to-eye … and rise above. He would not be facing lawsuits, possibly more damaging tapes in the remaining four weeks until election day, nor the revolt of fellow Republican leaders calling for him to step down. Jeb as a lifelong Republican would not be an embarrassment to the GOP.

The civility is very much missed. The respect is very much missed as is the truthfulness and honesty.

Will we ever again have a respectable candidate to represent the Republican Party?

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell


George W., Laura Bush, Barack Obama Speak at African American Museum Dedication

It’s called civility.
The picture of “the hug” between President Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama
has gone viral around the world.

In 2003, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-Ks.) to create a National African American Museum of History and Culture was sent to President George W. Bush’s desk in the White House. The president insisted the museum should be located on the National Mall.

Thirteen years later President Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, who worked with the museum, were speakers at the dedication and opening ceremony along with the first African American President of the United States, Barack Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama.

From the Bush Center, here are the remarks by Mrs. Laura Bush and former President George W. Bush at Saturday’s dedication of the National African American Museum of History.

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