Jeb to Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: Stay classy

Remember this nugget from Kathleen Kennedy Townsend? The former Maryland lieutenant governor attended a Points of Light event and claimed in a Facebook post shortly afterward that George H. W. Bush told her he was voting for Hillary Clinton. It got Townsend the publicity she clearly craved:


Yesterday, Jeb Bush took a shot at Townsend for exploiting his father — and for skipping out on the foundation’s board meeting in order to do so. Bush doesn’t bother to hide his disgust when asked by NBC’s Jordan Frasier (via Twitchy):

FRASIER: Governor, what did you make of the reports that your dad said he would support Hillary Clinton in November?

BUSH: I thought it was a little inappropriate for a person to overhear a frail, 92-year-old man in a private setting at a reception for the Points of Light Foundation, which focuses on volunteerism, to hear this and immediately go on Facebook and put it on there, and then go on national television — and not even show up at the board meeting. I thought that was inappropriate.

Yes, inappropriate is certainly one word for it. Classless is another. Note that Jeb isn’t disputing that such a conversation took place, but that’s not really the point. If the elder Bush wanted to make his voting preference public, he had plenty of ways to do so. Townsend clearly took advantage of the elderly man in order to pump up Hillary Clinton — and herself, a failed politician from the opposite party.


My friend Andrew Malcolm worked with the Bushes for a time, and offered up his assessment of Townsend’s actions in his McClatchy DC column this week. Not surprisingly, he’s as disgusted by Townsend as Jeb is:

Now, I don’t care who anyone including Ted Cruz votes for or why – party loyalty, habit, conscience, whatever. In the privacy of the booth, I cried the first time I cast a ballot and have voted the political spectrum ever since. Naively, I assumed others did the same.

I do not know President Bush well. I know he was a carrier attack pilot, shot down in World War II. I know he founded an oil company, served in the House, as U.N. ambassador, envoy to China, chairman of the Republican National Committee, director of Central Intelligence and Reagan’s vice president.

I visited his Houston home and we chatted a few times during his oldest son’s first presidential campaign. The elder Bush was surprisingly open and friendly, remarkably free of guile and pretense for a politician at that level.

He told me he knew two weeks before the 1992 election that he would lose to Bill Clinton with Ross Perot splitting the Republican vote. How did you get up in the morning? I asked. He shrugged. You have to keep trying, he said. Who knows what might happen?

I can just see the last commander-in-chief to serve in World War II looking up at his visitor the other day and politely making similar innocent conversation.

What I can’t see, even in this partisan time, is that woman then rushing out to violate an old man’s confidence for a cheap Facebook post.


Stay classy.

Update: Townsend was lieutenant governor, not governor, as I first wrote. She ran for governor and lost. Thanks to Doug Farnes on Twitter for the correction.

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