Barbara Bush remembered for her kindness and cutting wit
Few Americans have lived in the public eye for as long as Barbara Bush.
After her passing, many are remembering her by sharing some of her
The former first lady could have a sharp tongue when she wanted, as she
espoused the virtues of family and friendship and spared little thought for
The BBC wrote:
She was the matriarchal figure of a political dynasty that included two
presidents—her husband George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush.
Mrs. Bush, who was first lady from 1989 to 1993, had been in failing health
for some time and had declined further medical treatment.
Tributes to her poured in from across the U.S. political establishment.
Her husband, at 93, is the longest-lived US president. Their son, George,
was elected in 2000 and served two terms as the nation’s 43rd president.
For a woman so defined by the men around her, she blazed her own trail as a
fierce advocate for civil rights and family literacy, and bucked many in
the Republican establishment with her more liberal views on abortion.
Here are some of her most memorable quotations from a life in the public
One of her most well-known addresses was for the commencement at Wellesley
College in 1990. In her remarks, she affirmed her lifelong belief in the
importance of family.
“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more
test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal,” she said.
“You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child or a
She also spoke highly of human decency and kindness to strangers. “Never
of the fact that the most important yardstick of your success will be how
you treat other people—your family, friends and co-workers, and even
strangers you meet along the way,” she said.
The former first lady could be acerbic in describing opponents of her or
her husband. Controversially, she said about George H.W. Bush’s opposite
number for the 1984 vice presidential nomination, Geraldine Ferraro: “I
can’t say it, but it rhymes with ‘rich.’”
When students protested her invitation to speak for the Wellesley College
commencement, she was unmoved.
“No big deal,” she reportedly quipped. “Even I was 20 once.”
When students at Wellesley College objected to #BarbaraBush giving a commencement address in 1990, she said it’s “no big deal. Even I was 20 once.” https://t.co/3wx4wFp2VC #BarbaraBushQuotes pic.twitter.com/xwUFuHExUU
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) April 18, 2018
On the media
She had little love for the press. Upon leaving the White House, her advice
to her successor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was to avoid journalists at all
“Avoid this crowd like the plague,” she said. “And if they quote you, make
damn sure they heard you.”
Later, when her son George W. Bush was in the White House, she claimed not
to have much time for television news.
“I watch none,” she told Good Morning America’s Diane Sawyer. “He [former
President Bush] sits and listens and I read books, because I know perfectly
well that, don’t take offense, that 90 percent of what I hear on television
is supposition, when we’re talking about the news. And he’s not, not as
understanding of my pettiness about that. But why should we hear about body
bags, and deaths, and how many, what day it’s gonna happen, and how many
this or what do you suppose? Or, I mean, it’s, it’s not relevant. So, why
should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? And watch him
On hard work
Although she idealized family life, she didn’t hide that the work could be
difficult. When an interviewer intimated that Ann Romney had never worked a
day in her life, Bush argued that raising children was no easy feat.
“Raising five boys is a handful, trust me,” she said. “Raising George
Walker was not easy.”
She also believed that success wasn’t a matter of happenstance. “You don’t
just luck into things as much as you would like to think you do,” she is
reported to have said. “You build step by step, whether it is friendships
As her family became an integral part of American politics, she was asked
about her stances on many issues, from her son’s candidacy to her own views
on abortion and other topics. Her response to these tough questions usually
carried a whiff of her trademark terse humor.
“The personal things should be left out of platforms at conventions,” she
said in an interview with Time magazine for the 1992 convention. “You can
argue yourself blue in the face, and you’re not going to change each
other’s minds. It’s a waste of your time and my time.”
When her son Jeb ran for office in 2016, she told Matt Lauer on the Today
show: “There are other people out there that are very qualified, and we’ve
had enough Bushes.”
She had this to say about her legacy when addressing Wellesley College in
1990: “Who knows, somewhere out in this audience may even be someone who
will one day follow in my footsteps and preside over the White House as the
president’s spouse and I wish him well.”
What are your favorite quotations from the longtime public figure and
former first lady?