Barbara Bush will be missed

Barbara Bush was more than a beloved first lady to many Americans. In some ways, she felt like the first grandmother.

Bush died this week at age 92, after instructing her doctors to stop treatment that might have prolonged her life. It was typical of a woman who, while in the White House, made it clear she would live her life according to her rules.

She was the wife of one president and the mother of another. Both credited her with making them better men and better presidents.

She was outspoken, to say the least, sometimes disagreeing publicly with both Bush presidents. And she refused to paper over her own beliefs in order to be politically correct with fellow Republicans. In 1980, she went public with support for the Equal Rights Amendment and pro-choice policies regarding abortion.

Like so many first ladies, Bush used her position to do an enormous amount of often-underreported good. For a time, she volunteered at a hospice. As first lady and afterward, she worked hard for campaigns to eliminate homelessness and promote literacy.

Bush emphasized her family was her top priority, however. She and President George H.W. Bush were married for 73 years.

“What you see is what you get,” she remarked a few months before her husband was elected president.

What Americans got was something rare in the world of politics these days — an utter and endearing lack of pretense. That gave her a kind of power to do good, and she made use of it. She was, in a word, genuine — and for that, she will be missed.

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