There was no falsity, no pretense, no guile, no spin, no art to Barbara Bush, who died on Tuesday. She was What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get avant la lettre. (That is, before the concept of WYSIWYG had a name.) Americans are always clamoring about the virtues of “transparency.” Barbara Bush was as transparent as distilled water. Who but she would have said of her own (adored) son, as he weighed a campaign for the presidency, “If we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office, that’s silly. There are a lot of great families. There are other people out there that are very qualified. We’ve had enough Bushes!” Thanks, Mom!
If she was Mrs. No-Nonsense, she also had a playful, even girlish, side to her. On one occasion, I was alone in a freight elevator with Mr. and Mrs. Bush and their Secret Service detail when it got stuck between floors. Stuck elevators are viewed grimly by the Secret Service. The atmosphere inside quickly elevated (as it were) to Condition Red, with hands reaching for the holstered Glock 9’s, orders barked into wrist-mics and all the rest. The Bushes were blithe. I was standing behind them. Mr. Bush’s fingers reached for Mrs. Bush’s derrière and gave it a pinch. She turned to him and grinned like an 18-year-old. “Hi-ya, fellah,” she said. So I can claim to have witnessed a primal scene between Mom and Dad Bush.