IN 1992, I was asked to write an editorial to be published in The Houston Post the Sunday before the Republican National Convention was to open in the Astrodome.
My assignment was to welcome President George Bush to his hometown but to remind him that his presidency so far had not exactly been a success, and to point out the areas for improvement.
It was a long editorial (there was a lot to criticize!) and ended up taking up the entire length of the space reserved for editorials. In a place that normally housed three editorials, there was just this one, titled, “Welcome Home, Mr. President.”
The piece became the talk of the convention. It was mentioned in news articles and broadcasts, and The Washington Post even reprinted it in its Monday op-ed page. (It went on to win first place in the state’s three top editorial writing contests.)
During the convention, Barbara Bush went on the PBS News Hour to be interviewed by Judy Woodruff. One of the questions Woodruff had for her was about the editorial.
“Well,” Bush replied with a huff, “The Houston Post has never endorsed my husband.”
This was a lie, of course, and Barbara Bush knew that.
The Post had repeatedly endorsed her husband in his various runs for public office. In fact, it went on to endorse him in 1992 also. (The editorial page staff had decided to back Bill Clinton but its decision was overruled by the paper’s owner at the last minute, and the editorial I had written endorsing Clinton was shelved.)
YET, INSTEAD of rebutting the editorial, instead of defending her husband by citing some of what she saw as his accomplishments and qualifications, she chose to lie.
In her hometown.
Before a national audience.
That’s my Barbara Bush memory.
I am sorry she’s dead and I feel sadness for her family and others who loved her. But I refuse to join the parade of those who are trying to pass her off as an icon of decency and truth.