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THE DEATH OF BARBARA BUSH & REFLECTION ON ROLE OF FIRST LADY
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, over the weekend, Barbara Bush, only the second woman in our nation’s history to be a president’s wife and a president’s mother, she was laid to rest outside of Houston at the George H. W. Bush Library.
DR. REEDER: Yes, Tom, she’s a very interesting lady and it also brings up an interesting observation. Because our culture has, up until the recent fabricated rulings of Obergefell concerning what is marriage, has always honored the fact that marriage is a foundational institution in the culture that was established by the Creator as one man, one woman, for one life and that that was a foundational issue.
Therefore, we have long been grateful and elected presidents who were married. And the one that they married affected the election, not because you were trying to elect two-for-one or because the position of First Lady was actually an office in the Constitution, but everyone just recognized that, when you elect the one, that you get the marriage partner because the two have become one.
And then First Ladies have carved out their own ministry all the way through Martha Dandridge Washington, the wife of our first president, George Washington, then it was taken to another whole level in the aggressive and independent dynamics and outspoken statements of an Abigail Adams, wife of our second president.
As you move through, our presidents’ wives have all carved out their own space, but there was already an anticipated activity and respect accorded to them in context of their complementarian relationship, that is, they completed their husband — that their husband was not all that he could be or should be without them.
FIRST LADIES LEFT UNIQUE AND VARIED LEGACIES
And then they’ve all had their own commitments, their own emphases, and it’s really been interesting to watch them. Pat Nixon, who was very much in the background — refused to be seen and highly sophisticated and thoughtful but never verbal, never out front — to the aggressive commitment to Equal Rights Amendment by Betty Ford.
I’m just looking at my lifetime experiences and, of course, before I was born was FDR’s wife, Eleanor, who clearly disagreed with her husband and let everyone know about it and, in fact, did not live in Washington like Martha Washington, who would stay back home quite a bit in watching over the farm and the plantation, so Eleonor Roosevelt would spend extensive stays away from the White House.
You had Mrs. Kennedy, who carved out her own, quite the object of not only curiosity but esteem and compliments with her sophisticated, thoughtful and warm personality that was on public display. You remember the famous statement of President Kennedy after he had returned from the trip to Europe and, particularly, to her family ancestral home of France and said, “I am the guy that accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy on her triumphal tour of France.”
The notable manner in which Michelle Obama conducted herself and also her burdens for children’s literacy. Mrs. Clinton came in and saw herself much more in an elected position and tried to become a policy maker with the failed attempt, at that time, of a national healthcare policy. And now it remains to be seen how President Trump’s wife, Melania will ultimately… You can see her feeling her way through this and, being a naturalized citizen, of course, she is trying to gain the sensibilities of it.
WHAT LEGACY DOES BARBARA BUSH LEAVE BEHIND?
Now, Mrs. Bush was her own woman. She was a strong woman; she was a powerful woman; she is the archetype of the “Republican President Woman” in terms of myth and fact in that, somewhat on the liberal side like a Betty Ford on some of her views, but on the other side was a woman of doing things right. You can see somewhat the patrician New England dynamic in her life and in her marriage.
And it was notable that, when you went to eat with her — I quote one visitor — you ate before you went because food would be sparse on the plate as it was bad manners to fill up a plate with food so you ate like a bird and if you wanted to be a vulture, you better have eaten before you got there. Everyone was supposed to be mannerable and etiquette was everything.
FAITH EVIDENT TO THE NATION
And then you see the religious movement in her life. I listened to the interview where she said, “I have no fear of death because I have a great God.” It was notable that President George Bush has given a number of incidents where they have had theological discussions and the fact that he believes his dad and his mom had made a commitment to Christ and they had been drastically affected by the life and ministry of Billy Graham, so much so that they actually, in a sense, had him on the speed dial when they would have family theological discussions.
Therefore, I do pray she knows Christ. She cut her own figure in and, in many ways was a wonderful model. Like all of us, we all have our warts and pimples, but I pray for the family now. I would join with them in remembering their mother. Critiques can, of course, be done by biographers later — I want to join with them in remembering her and being grateful.
What I think of her is this: She has handled the death of a child with dignity, she has mothered her daughters well, she has a son who is effective in business, she has a son who has been president and a son who was a governor, to some degree successful in their attempts and admirable in their commitments and overall evaluation. I do believe, very much, that the hand that rocks the cradle controls the world and you can see the effects of her motherhood as well as her demeanor as a wife and completer in the life of her husband and the obvious devotion that they had to each other.
THANK YOU, BUSHES, FOR EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN MARRIAGE
TOM LAMPRECHT: And she and George H.W. Bush set the high-water mark for the number of years married, 72 years. That’s the longest period of any president.
DR. REEDER: And so that is commendable and it’s, of course, something we strive to see: the return of the Biblical, historical definition of marriage, one man, one woman, and that last part for one life. And I’m grateful for their 72-year marriage and her 92-year life here. And I do hope and pray that the power of the Gospel has been seen.
And, as she said, no fear of death, she had a great God and one of the ways we know the greatness of our God is He can save all of us who are sinners from all of our sins through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
TOMORROW: TRUMP MEETING WITH KIM JONG UN AND AMERICAN PASTOR JAILED IN TURKEY
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, we’re out of time for today. On Tuesday’s edition of Today in Perspective, I want to take you back to last Wednesday where President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan got together for a press conference. They talked about a number of things, but at the top of the list was North Korea. North Korea has taken citizens from Japan captive and there are three Americans being held at North Korea.
Harry, tomorrow, I would like to discuss the whole North Korean situation and the upcoming summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, but I also want to examine the situation in Turkey where Pastor Andrew Brunson is being held captive because, as the Turkish government says, evangelism is a form of terrorism.
DR. REEDER: Andrew Brunson in prison, under trial and facing some significant possible penalties, including death in Turkey. We need to look at that.
And then the first one you mentioned because not only the announcements concerning North Korea from that meeting with the Japanese prime minister, but, Tom, it’s also been announced that there’s going to be a “quasi-summit” between President Trump and the president or dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un. And, also, surprising tactics that have befuddled that we’ll try to give some clarity to as to how that meeting was set up. We need to do some analysis of his not so surprising but yet befuddling to the media unorthodox style and evaluate it from a Christian world and life view.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin, editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News, who has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and whose work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.