April 1, 2019
New biography on Barbara Bush reveals her own dissatisfaction with the Republican Party of today
by Alex Primiani
This past week, USA Today published an excerpt from The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty, a biography about the late former First Lady who passed away in the spring of 2018. In it, writer Susan Page unearths a variety of conflicts that deeply affected Ms. Bush during her last years of life, moments that led her to question the path of the Republican Party, and her dynastic family’s own place within it.
For USA Today, Veronica Stracqualursi gives us some of the highlights:
According to Page’s research for her book, Barbara Bush reiterated her support of the party, and very much identified as a Republican—up until October 2017. In early 2018, however, the former First Lady, and mother of former President George Bush and losing Republican candidate Jeb Bush, rescinded her previous statement. Page quotes her as saying “I’d probably say no today” when asked the same question just months into Trump’s presidency.
Barbara Bush also took such offense to Trump’s attacks on her son Jeb, that she reportedly did not vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton, but wrote in Jeb’s name on the ballot.
Perhaps one of the more bizarre revelations is Ms. Bush’s accusation that Trump’s attacks on Jeb led to her heart attack in 2016. According to Stracqualursi, the Bushes always called what their mother had, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; there never was any medical evidence of a heart attack. Stracqualursi writes, “A source close to the Bush family said the family matriarch referred to the episode as a heart attack from time to time but did not mean it literally.”
What to make of the disdain and disappointment of indeed The matriarch of the contemporary Republican Party? Not much, I guess, but damn Trump… literally everyone hates you.
Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.