Love letter to Barbara Bush

News & Politics

No, I'm not writing one, sorry. But it looks as though one of the Bush twins has not only cooled it with the drinking and antics but gone whole hog in the other direction. Barbara appears to be volunteering at an AIDS clinic in South Africa.

I say "looks" and "appears" because that's all this 1,000 word puff piece in the Boston Globe can tell you. 1,000 words of "I didn't know she was here" and "I think I saw her once" quotes wrapped around this sonata-scored wet kiss:

"Barbara Bush's experience in Africa might seem a made-to-order moment for good publicity, a chance for the Bush family to show a connection between policy and personal conviction. But the Bushes apparently will have none of that."

I have a couple of other ideas myself. Along with a couple of questions for the article's author, John Donnelly (who was not, I can say with a fair degree of confidence, clamoring to write this piece).

  1. If this information is such a secret and the only cited sources to verify her presence at this clinic are an anonymous White House source, US embassy officials and an anonymous doctor, how did you learn about this to write the story? If you learned about it from a US official, isn't it a bit like leaving the price tag on the present?
  2. You were at the hospital in Cape Town and nobody you spoke with will go on record as having seen her, the head of the Red Cross had no idea what you were talking about and, well, frankly, I've been in a hospital; even in a large one, you hang around for a day or two and you're bound to see nearly every employee. Especially volunteers. Yet no red flags were raised, huh?
  3. Finally, since Bush was asked at a press conference just a few weeks ago whether any of his clan is involved in the war effort he so fervently believes in, doesn't it strike you as an especially opportune time to have a daughter so mysteriously turn up in an indisputably philanthropic pastime?

Now, it may well be the case that Barbara is down there of her own accord, plugging away at this thankless work in anonymity. I'm not necessarily disputing that. Nor am I implying that she shouldn't be up in New England drinking up and falling down. Just that I'd like to see a sliver of skepticism on the part of my reporters.

It'd also be interesting to hear the staff of doctors, nurses, volunteers, patients, Red Cross administrators and, especially, Barbara comment on the gulf between her daddy's AIDS to Africa funding promises and the amount he's delivered. Now that'd add some gravitas and some tension, no?

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