Obama’s moving remembrance of the flawed but fierce Barbara Bush is a must-read.

On April 17, 2018, America lost its 41st first lady and the mother of its 43rd president.

Barbara Bush passed away at her Houston home at the age of 92. A well-known — but flawed — first lady, she used her platform to advocate for increased family literacy.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.


In a thoughtful display of bipartisanship and respect, Barack Obama, ever a champion of goodness toward all people, wrote a lovely, heartfelt statement in remembrance of Bush.

His tweet is a welcome display of reaching across the aisle, particularly when humans go through, well, human things.

At a time when Americans are more split politically than ever, when the current president can’t even seem to get the death date of a famous political figure correct, and when it seems that being as rude and ostracizing as possible is the way to be heard, Obama’s tweet is an important example of how to treat each other with grace.

It certainly is indicative of his beliefs about humanity, and his belief that Americans, regardless of political affiliation, can come together first. "Those of us who have the privilege to serve this country have an obligation to do our job as best we can," Obama said in 2013. "We come from different parties, but we are Americans first."

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

While Obama’s tweet — and general life outlook — is certainly a beautiful display of affection toward the Bush family and Americans as a whole, it’s important to recognize Bush’s life as a lesson. Though beloved for her championship of family literacy and her honesty about the difficulty of losing a child, she’s also a polarizing figure for valid reasons.

Photo by Pool/Getty Images.

After Anita Hill’s historic sexual harassment testimony against Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Bush reportedly denied Hill’s claims, questioned her integrity, and defended Thomas by referring to him as “a good man.” In the Maine gubernatorial race, she endorsed Paul LePage, who called people of color "the enemy right now."

Her response to Hurricane Katrina victims — that they “should be thankful” for Houston’s help — was widely viewed as condescending. “And so many of the people in the [Houston Astrodome] here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them,” Bush said in 2005, seeming to imply they would prefer to live in an arena-turned-homeless-shelter instead of their own homes.  

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

She was a flawed person, and we absolutely shouldn’t whitewash her mistakes.

But, as with many flawed politicians and political figures, she was also human, with hopes and dreams and pains and failures.

While we shouldn’t ignore her missteps, we can follow Obama’s example by learning from them.

We can support women in their careers and when they share their stories, we can advocate for immigrants and people of color, and we can listen to and help those who experience challenges, rather than disparaging them.  

By recognizing the contributions Bush made to society, as Obama did, we can support the good causes she championed, respect the complicated life she lived, and take the good from views that may be different from ours.

Most importantly, we can stand with our fellow Americans when they need it most.

More
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular