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Watch Out, Sarah Palin: Barbara Bush Is the Original Mama Grizzly

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Barbara Bush is the grande dame of the GOP.

And she finally has said something that a lot of Republicans – not to mention Democrats and independents – have been thinking about Sarah Palin. Barbara, never one to mince words, shared her opinion about Palin on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Monday night.

“I sat next to her once,” Barbara Bush told King. “Thought she was beautiful. And I think she’s very happy in Alaska, and I hope she’ll stay there.”

The former first lady’s sentiment touched a nerve in tea party circles on Monday. On Glenn Beck’s radio show, he hinted that her remark was shallow before calling her “oat meal box lady.” He attempted to backtrack by adding that Barbara was his “favorite Bush.”

Barbara Bush’s comments about Palin may have – intentionally or not – flamed a fire that could scorch through the Republican Party in the next two years, truly pitting the tried-and-true Republican establishment against Sarah Palin’s social network, grassroots movement.

As one GOP insider told me, “Sarah Palin can continue playing her victim card to rail against the Republican establishment.”

Then again, such discord might just trigger a White House run by Jeb Bush.

Palin is not likely to take Barbara’s comments in stride. While she may not tweet about them, she will likely get her media army, in which Beck ranks as an officer, to lambaste the Bush family. That may be a big mistake.

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For many, Barbara Bush has always appeared as the warm, cuddly grandmother who bakes cookies and plays with grandchildren. But she’s hardly such a teddy bear. She’s as hardcore and blatantly honest as an anarchist punk rocker. Remember what she said in 2005 after visiting Hurricane Katrina refugees in Houston’s Astrodome? “What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas,” she said at the time. “Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.”

Last week, former President George W. Bush told “Today” host Matt Lauer a harrowing story about how his mother suffered a miscarriage, placed the fetus in a jar and showed it to him.

“I never expected to see the remains of the fetus, which she had saved in a jar to bring to the hospital,” Bush writes in his new book, “Decision Points.”

He told Lauer: “The purpose of the story wasn’t to try show the evolution of a pro-life point of view. It was really to show how my mom and I developed a relationship.”

That’s honesty to a fault.

But as the late Marjorie Williams noted in her 1992 exhaustive Vanity Fair profile, Barbara Bush can be both old guard privileged in pearls and down-to-earth on the farm, but she pulls absolutely no punches. She didn’t when her husband was running for re-election against Bill Clinton, and she doesn’t now at age 85.

Williams, who died in 2005, wrote that even Barbara’s stepmother was fearful of her. Aides and staff who had worked with the Bushes over the years described Barbara as “difficult,” “tough as nails,” “demanding” and “autocratic.” A 1988 campaign staffer recalls that “when she frowned it had the capacity to send shudders through a lot of people.”

In the same profile, Williams wrote that former President George H.W. Bush would tell reporters who had angered Barbara with something they had written about her husband, “Look out, the Silver Fox is really mad at you.”

Is Barbara mad at Palin, the tea party and now Beck after his rant on Monday?

With a pedigree rooted in the conservative moneyed East Coast elite, Barbara Bush is the polar opposite of Palin, the tea party’s queen. Maybe the fractured Republican Party of 2010 reminds the Bushes of the 1992 election when third party candidate Texan Ross Perot assisted in costing them a second term in the White House.

In the same Larry King interview, George H.W. Bush said, “Well I don’t know what [the tea party] really is. Some of the ideas make a lot of sense. But how it fits in, I know it was in the paper today, they were talking about what the tea party would do to get the Republicans in Congress to do something. But these people have all been elected, whether they’re tea partiers or not, so I’m confused by it frankly.”

A lot of other people are equally unsure about the tea party movement. People are not mystified by the Bush family, however.

The Bush family is a known commodity, a political dynasty not to be dismissed. Former President George W. Bush is currently enjoying a resounding new surge in popularity thanks to his memoir. He’s on talk shows and at book signings around the country, attempting to polish his political legacy, like presidents before him. Then there’s Jeb Bush, the son who was supposed to be president but stepped aside for his brother.

Last week, Jeb Bush told CNN’s Candy Crowley, “I really have to stay focused on this goal of achieving some financial independence, financial security for my family.” He added, “You never say never about anything.”

Who knows their children better than a mother? No one. Barbara Bush may have been, consciously or unconsciously, laying the groundwork for a Jeb Bush White House run. Jeb Bush is seen by some Republicans as the only potential candidate who is the whole political package on policy and politicking.

Palin may have her Mama Grizzlies lined up, but Barbara Bush is the original Mama Grizzly with a dynasty to protect. As Palin writes in her new book out Tuesday in bookstores, “Grizzly bears — mamas or otherwise — are beautiful, ferocious, serious-as-a-heart-attack creatures. When you come upon one, you don’t give her a hug. You tread lightly. Because when the ones she loves are threatened, she rises up.”

It sounds like she’s talking about Barbara Bush.


Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm