Barbara, Barbara, Barbara
Mother's remark puts silver foot in Bush's mouth
Published September 7, 2005
I was all set to defend President Bush as a guy who really doesn't want poor black people in Louisiana and Mississippi to die of starvation and disease, no matter what the Democrats say.
But then Barbara Bush, the president's mom, went and dusted off the Bush family silver foot Monday. And she used it.
While touring the Houston Astrodome, where thousands of Hurricane Katrina refugees have been huddling, Barbara Bush said they didn't have it so bad because, heck, they were poor to begin with.
"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," she was quoted as saying in an interview on National Public Radio.
Thousands of hurricane refugees were sitting on or near their green army cots, perhaps thinking of lunch, presumably waiting to be fed something hearty.
Anything but cake.
"Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," Barbara Bush said. And here comes the fastball over the middle of the Democratic plate:
"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."
At least she didn't ask them to sing and dance. But I'm sure it's working out very well for them. How often does something nice like a hurricane come by and change your life so you can hang out with thousands of others in the Astrodome and have Barbara Bush say it wasn't so bad, because you were poor anyway?
By my calculations, Barb's foot is about a 10 1/2 EE, but by the time you read this on Wednesday, after Leno and Letterman get through with her, she'll have an EEEE at least. There should be some back teeth stuck to the pinky toe when the surgeon general finally pulls it out.
You've got to figure that somewhere, former Texas Democratic Gov. Ann Richards is smiling. It was Richards, or perhaps one of her pointy-headed ghostwriters, who came up with the devastating line about former President George H.W. Bush.
Richards said the former president couldn't be blamed for his misstatements, because he was born with a silver foot in his mouth. Now it turns out Barbara was in charge of the silver. She polished it up good and shiny. And in political terms, she put her foot in her son's mouth and knocked loose a few teeth.
I'm sure Barbara won't be able to fix things up just by bringing a lime Jell-O mold (with floating chunks of pineapple) over to the White House at suppertime.
"I'm sorry what I said about those people. However, I did make Jell-O to cheer you up."
"With the chunks?"
Most of us have moms, but if we're lucky, they never made Jell-O with or without the hideous chunks. But most of us don't have moms who could start a war with China or overturn the Republican's Southern Strategy with a few choice words, like Barbara Bush just did.
Please don't get it into your head that my constant exposure to people in the mainstream media--many of whom are still peeved that Al Gore isn't president--has changed my political views. It hasn't.
But what Barbara Bush said can't be ignored. She's the former first lady, the current first grandmother, and she's no political cream puff.
Even though she's got that soft white hair and those crinkly blue eyes, she also has that deadly string of pearls and probably rattled them at Laura Bush when they first met, and Laura got flustered and blurted out that her two hobbies were reading and smoking.
Who wouldn't get flustered? I'm scared of her, too, and I've only seen her on TV.
Like the president, my mom's a Republican, so I called to warn her about what Barbara Bush said.
"No!" she said. "That can't be true."
I could hear her fingers typing on her laptop, frantically trying to get to The National Review Online, where she could find ammunition to refute such a heinous story created by the liberal mainstream media.
But it is true and she knows it now, and I had to remind her of something that all reporters and editors remind their families, particularly moms: Don't talk to reporters, ever.
It has nothing to do with journalists thinking we're famous or popular or that anyone cares what we say. It does have to do, however, with the ancient fear held by most humans (except for the Jerry Springer set) that anything our moms say may be embarrassing, that the women who brought us into the world can take us out of it with one foolish statement, a la Barbara Bush.
And, besides, we're reporters. We know what we're like.
So, what did I say about reporters?
"Never to talk to them, ever?" said my mom, who was a reporter once, but repeated this to humor me.