RUSH: So, first things first. Barbara Bush passed away at age 92, and I wanted to take some time here to offer condolences to her family. She was always very nice, just plain old nice and funny, accepting, challenging, supportive sometimes. They’re reporting grand old dame she was, a matriarch in the truest sense and in the greatest sense of the word. In fact, the way to set this up, grab audio sound bite No. 2. Little Brian Stelter at CNN. I have a couple Barbara Bush stories to tell you, and this will be one way to lead into them.
STELTER: There’s never been a media figure with such a close relationship with an American president. Yes, Kennedy was close with the Washington Post editor. Yes, George H. W. Bush had Rush Limbaugh over to stay at the White House. Yes, President Obama would occasionally bring in liberal hosts and writers for meetings. But we’ve never had anything like this where Sean Hannity is advising President Trump.
RUSH: You’re just jealous as you can be. You people at CNN are just as jealous as you can be. You all would have loved to have been advisers to Obama, except Obama didn’t think enough of you people. Yeah, he’d have the liberal clowns in for lunch or whatever, but he would never think of spending an overnight with them. He was too far above them.
Obama looked at the media as willing accomplices, but mostly pawns. Obama didn’t even have that much respect for them because he knew that they were pliable and malleable. He knew they were suck-ups. And any one of them, including Brian Stelter, would have killed, would have died and gone to heaven for the opportunity to advise Barack Obama and then brag to everybody in the world that they were doing it! But it never happened.
But, yes, indeed, I was invited to overnight at the White House by George H. W. Bush. It was in 1992, in the middle of the Republican primary campaign. It was the year Ross Perot looked like he was actually gonna secure the nomination. And that year I had gotten very close to endorsing Pat Buchanan in the New Hampshire primary simply because I thought there needed to be a strong conservative element in the Republican primary and in the Republican campaign.
And George H. W. Bush, when he ran for office in ’88, promised that it would be the third term of Ronald Reagan, the third term of Ronaldus Magnus. But then some unfortunate things happened, such as the “read my lips: no new taxes,” and then we got taxes and H. W. Bush thought that he could work cooperatively with Tom Foley, who was then the Speaker of the House.
So in the midst of this all this I was summoned. I was invited to the White House, and it was great. I went with Roger Ailes, who was a lifelong family friend of the Bushes. We flew up to Washington after my radio show. We took the shuttle, got down there about 5:30.
And Ailes said, “Look, these people, they don’t eat.” They had invited us for dinner. We were gonna go to dinner, go to the Kennedy Center with them for some musical performance, come back to the White House, talk politics, and sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom, which is what I did. I called my mom from the Lincoln Bedroom. She didn’t believe it. But I did.
So, anyway, we landed, we’re on our way to the White House, and Ailes says, “We’re stopping at the Old Ebbitt Grill,” which is a restaurant right across the street. And I said, “Why?”
He said, “‘Cause they don’t eat. They eat like birds. If you’re hungry and you want to eat something, we better eat before we get in there ’cause dinner is gonna be nothing but a water bowl.”
I said, “Okay.” So we went to the Old Ebbitt Grill, and I didn’t have very much to eat because I wasn’t there to eat. And then we got to the White House. We went in the diplomatic entrance, and they escorted us up the elevator to the residence. And there’s nobody there, other than the Secret Service and the White House staff guiding us. And out of nowhere, President Bush’s voice is heard, “Rodge? Rodge? Is that you?”
Ailes said, “Yeah, Mr. President, it’s me.” He comes out, he had just finished a jog, he’d gotten dressed, came and grabbed my bags and started walking down the hallway toward the Lincoln Bedroom. And I am apoplectic. I cannot have this, cannot have the president of the United States carrying my luggage. So I said, “Mr. President, no, no, no, let me grab it.”
“No, no, no, come, let me show you.” He gave me the quick tour on the way down the hall and then some brief historical information about the Lincoln Bedroom. So after a little talking, we got into the presidential limo and sped over to the Kennedy Center where there was a performance of something going on. The Bushes were gonna leave at intermission. At intermission we went down and met the cast and so forth. We went back to the White House and sat down and talked campaign when we got back in the president’s study.
But at dinner, Ailes was right. It wasn’t very much. And at the end of dinner, the waiters brought out a finger bowl for all of us. And Mrs. Bush was looking at me with gigantic eyes because I guess she thought that I didn’t know what it was. She saw me pick up a spoon, and I think she feared that I thought it was soup or some kind of clear looking dessert, because she immediately picked up her silverware and positioned it properly, as you would for a finger bowl.
By the way, there was nothing on the menu that would have required a finger bowl. You know, a finger bowl is fried chicken, touching the food with your hands, but there was none of that. And she was prepared, you know, like Queen Elizabeth, the old story that somebody at dinner with Queen Elizabeth that didn’t understand anything, and was using utensils the wrong way. And rather than the queen embarrass the guy and call him out or have somebody else do it, she began to imitate the way this guy was using his utensils, and it relaxed everybody.
And I fully thought Barbara Bush was gonna pick up that finger bowl and start drinking from it, because she thought that’s what I was gonna do. But I, of course, as a refined and sophisticated person from Missouri, knew exactly what the finger bowl was. I had just goofed up in how you arrange the silverware in preparation for it and then to set it aside. ‘Cause the waiters sit it at your place setting as though it is an item, rather than off to the side where you, the diner, are supposed to move it.
(interruption) Oh, we had finger bowls every night in Cape Girardeau, yeah, with the okra and the soybeans and the collard greens, absolutely. We had to have finger bowls every night. In fact, sometimes two or three finger bowls. When we were finished, we’d put ’em on the floor, let the dog lick what’s left. Yeah. Only kidding.
Anyway, when that evening was over and we got back to the White House and started talking politics, I found out Bush’s explanation for why Perot was on the warpath. And what he had told me was that it stemmed from an operation when Reagan was president, a prisoner of war rescue mission in Vietnam that the administration, the government had asked Perot to fund and to be part of.
But then at the moment of truth, they didn’t want him to go on the mission, and this supposedly upset Mr. Perot. They’d asked him to pay for it in part, and he was a big supporter of the entire POW movement, so he thought, I guess, that he had been used by Reagan with Bush as the emissary for his money to mount the operation but wasn’t gonna get any chance to participate in it.
Anyway, at this point in time nobody was taking Bill Clinton seriously. And even George H. W. Bush was not taking Perot that seriously. I tried to tell him, “I think you should be maybe taking him a little bit more seriously than you are. I’m telling you, this guy is lighting a fire out there. And while you may know him personally and think he’s a little off the wall and a kook, he’s got a sizable and growing legion of supporters out there.”
Anyway, I then spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. I didn’t sleep much because I… I mean, who wants to be conscious when you’re in the White House? The Lincoln Bedroom, by the way, was never a bedroom. It was Lincoln’s office when he was president. It’s on the second floor with the residence. I got up the next day and flew back to New York for the radio program, and it wasn’t long before the Drive-Bys found out about it.
The Today show’s calling, asking me to show up and sit for an interview with the perky Katie Couric to explain it. And that’s where it all went off the rails with me and Katie Couric, ’cause she starts asking me about it and I said, “You know, President Bush is really a nice guy,” and at that moment she frowned and kind of looked away and rolled her eyes. I said, “See? See? All I said was, ‘He’s a nice guy,’ and look at you. You roll your eyes at the very idea might be a nice guy.”
She was so livid after that interview. She said, “I wasn’t reacting to what you were saying! Somebody was talking to me in my ear about something and I was reacting to that. I wasn’t reacting to what you said. You just accused me of being biased in my own interview!” “It’s what it looked like to me,” and ever since then, Katie Couric and I have been off the rails. Not that that bothers me. I saw Barbara Bush a number of times.
George H. W. Bush was honorary grand pooh-bah for a golf organization called The First Tee, which is an organization that uses golf to teach young people the values and discipline and morals of life, kids that would never otherwise play golf. It reaches out to economically challenged poor kids, minority kids, and gets them interested in the game of golf to teach them the game so that they then learn about various disciplines, manners, honor.
It’s a really great organization, and George H. W. Bush was the grand pooh-bah and I played in a couple of those annual tournaments with him, and one of them was in Kennebunkport where the Bushes spent their summers. At the time this one happened, George W. Bush was president, and I talked to Mrs. Bush about how proud she was. She’s the wife of a president, the mother of a president, mother of Governor Jeb Bush.
You know, I knew how proud of me my parents were, and I hadn’t done diddly-squat compared to what the Bush kids have done. I talked to her about that, and she was very, very proud. But she was concerned that… You know, I said, ‘By the way, I just want you to know, your family? to me, I don’t associate political dynasty.” Oh, she was so appreciative that I’d said that. She said, “Thank you so much for saying that, because people accuse us of being a dynasty and trying to own and operate this and we’re not” and so forth.
The last time I saw her, I called the George H. W. Bush/Barbara Bush chief of staff, Jim McGrath, in Houston. I said, “Kathryn and I would love to come down and just…” George H. W. Bush was sick at the time. He had just gotten out of the hospital, and we said, “We’d love to come down and say hello,” and they set it up. So we flew down and they met us for lunch. It was a Sunday afternoon in the spring at one of their clubs.
So we got off the plane, told the driver where we’re going, mentioned the name of the club (I don’t remember it now), and his eyebrows went up. “Ohhhh! You’re going there, eh?” I said, “Yeah, but shh, shh, shh! Don’t tell anybody.” So we got in, met the Bushes, had a private table, and Mrs. Bush looked at me and said, “This club… I hope you don’t mind being there.” I said, “No, no. Wherever you are is fine with us.” “This club… This club is so exclusive, they have an operating room down there. You have to be born here to be a member.”
I just cracked up, because that was the classic line about phony elitism at private clubs: “You have to be born here to be a member.” She was funny, she was tough, and fearless too. And she one of these people that really didn’t have a whole lot of concern for what people thought of her if it meant saying what she really believed. So it’s something I considered always a great opportunity and thing to have happened to me, to be able to meet them.
I was a frequent visitor to the George W. Bush White House as well. The family’s been amazingly helpful to me, and I will always remember it.
RUSH: By the way, Barbara Bush was at one of these… It was a dinner at somebody’s house, too, and I was kind of thirsty and my water glass was near empty and the waiters hadn’t come around. She said, “Well, hey, you can drink mine. I’m not a liberal. You can share mine.” At one of these… At the dinner at Kennebunkport during The First Tee golf outing, she made it a point — ’cause she knew this irritated me. She made it a point to tell me how much that the family loved Bill Clinton, that they had grown to like Bill Clinton.
“He’s great guy,” and he never stopped talking, which took a lot of pressure off of them. All they had to do was listen. They loved having Bill Clinton on the phone to them when they’re going to worldwide disaster relief areas ’cause they never had to say a word. But she knew. She knew that it was bug me that she was praising Bill Clinton, and she knew that I wouldn’t say anything about it, ’cause, of course, I, am a person of profound respect. Anyway, she was unique individual and funny as she could be and fearless at the same time.
She lived a great life.
RUSH: We start in Cincinnati. Mike, great to have you on the EIB Network. Hello.
CALLER: Hey, Rush. How are you?
RUSH: Fine, sir. Thank you.
CALLER: Good. Hey, just wanted to tell you, back in 2005 — well, the last 20-some-odd years — a bunch of us guys go to Cape Arundel in Kennebunkport in September, playing in the Kennebunkport Open. Which is a bunch of regular guys. We don’t do anything special; we’re not all members there. But long story short, we ran into Mrs. Bush, Mr. Bush and a lot of other people up there one day, and we were in the parking lot drinking beer, having a good time, and Mrs. Bush comes over.
RUSH: Wait just in time. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re in the parking lot — the parking lot! — at Cape Arundel Golf Club in Kennebunkport drinking beer in the parking lot?
CALLER: Yes, sir. Absolutely. Right after we finished our round.
RUSH: Why the parking lot?
RUSH: Why not the clubhouse, the 19th hole? Why the parking lot?
CALLER: Well, I don’t know if you know this or not, but the clubhouse has no bar. It has no restaurant. It has nothing, really, but a fireplace, a coffeepot, and the pro shop. It’s not a particularly flashy place. So the parking lot is where you drink beer or maybe out on the deck that overlooks the Kennebec River right there if you’ve ever been up there.
RUSH: All right, that’s a great answer for people that don’t know the truth. That’s cool.
CALLER: Yeah. (chuckles) So a bunch of us were in the parking lot having a few beers. The other guys were out on the golf course waiting for 41 and his guest — Phil Mickelson, funny enough — to come in and play. But I was in the parking lot with four or five other guys, and Mrs. Bush came out. She waved to us, and I said, “Hey, Mrs. Bush, how are you?” She goes, “I’m just great.” I go, “Can I get a picture with you?” She goes, “Sure, come on over.”
So I go over and I have a Budweiser can in my hand and the Secret Service lady says, “You can’t have beer next to Mrs. Bush.” Mrs. Bush said — I swear to you, just like this — “Oh, let ’em have their fun. They’re drinking a few beers.” Anyway, I got a great picture. She couldn’t have been nicer; then the rest of them came in. There were no cameras rolling. They didn’t have to be nice to us. They didn’t know us. But they couldn’t have been nicer. They’re the nicest people you ever, ever want to meet.
RUSH: That’s excellent, and that is actually a very great point. Character. You can find out a lot about somebody by watching how they behave with people who can’t do anything for them. That’s one of the greatest indicators of someone’s character and personality: How they treat people who can’t do anything for them. Your observation that there weren’t any cameras around so there was not gonna be any historical note of Mrs. Bush’s behavior. In other words, she didn’t have to be nice to you ’cause there were cameras around. She just was. That’s a great point, and I’m in full accord of your assessment of her. Thank you very much for the call.
RUSH: Charlotte in Herndon, Virginia. Great to have you on the program. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Rush. It’s nice to speak with you. I just wanted to share a couple of incidents about Barbara Bush. When we were in New York, I happened to be a guest of our next-door neighbor at the United Nations, and we went in one day to hear Barbara address a congregation of the wives of the ambassadors to the U.N.
CALLER: And while we were in there, she happened to look up, and in the back George was standing there with his aides or whatever. And she stopped what she was saying after she was addressing the women and she said, “George, I told you at breakfast, your presence is not required. Now go back to your desk.”
RUSH: She was talking to her husband?
RUSH: Yeah, that’s the old days.
CALLER: Well, we all just roared.
RUSH: I’m sure, and applauded. And applauded.
CALLER: Oh, yes!
RUSH: I mean, there’s Bush 41 being told to go back to the desk and leave the women alone. Absolutely right.
CALLER: Yes, she did! And she didn’t care. Anyways, another incident. We are lovers of the whole Bush family.
RUSH: Right. In the platonic sense, of course, yes.
CALLER: Yeah, ha. We were in Houston at a restaurant, and this was long after he and Barbara were out of the White House.
CALLER: And they were having dinner. And when they got up to leave, they came by our table, and of course my husband and I stood immediately, and he shook hands with President Bush. And I looked at her, and I said, “I was at the U.N. one day when you were addressing the ladies of the assembly.” And she said, “I don’t remember you.” I said, “Well, we didn’t meet, but I was there.” And I also said to her —
RUSH: Now, wait a minute. That’s a pretty gutsy, wait a minute, now. (laughing) It that had happened to me I would have said, “Oh, yeah, yeah, that was a fun day.” Instead she said, “I don’t remember you. I don’t remember meeting you.” That’s pretty ballsy.
CALLER: Yeah. Well, anyway. She didn’t lack the balls, that’s for damn sure. But, anyway, I looked at her, and I said, “I can’t tell you how proud we all in my family are of you and your family.”
RUSH: Well —
CALLER: And she looked at the me and she got that little twinkle in her eye and she said, “Young woman, I married well, and I birthed well.”
RUSH: That’s great. I gotta go. I wish I had more time with you, but I don’t. It’s a shame.