Just 24 Hours After Pres. Bush Died, Leftist Magazine Accuses Him of Sexual Misconduct


It’s no secret what Slate’s political leanings are. In terms of decorum, well, one kind of knew where its editors stood on that, too. Therefore, if you bet that Slate was going to be the publication that spent a few hundred words on groping allegations at the same time most of America mourned former President George H.W. Bush, congratulations — you paid attention to history.

In an article titled “New York Times and Washington Post Obituaries for George H.W. Bush Leave Out Groping Allegations,” Slate social media editor Molly Olmstead takes the media to task for not devoting space to what seems to have amounted to a minor incident in the former president’s life.

The article began by listing the good things the media found to say about the former president as if they were a kind of incantation against those who were saying them.

“After former President George H.W. Bush died at the age of 94 on Friday, tributes poured in from leading political figures across the country,” Olmstead wrote in the piece published Saturday.

“Prominent newspapers ran obituaries detailing in length a presidential legacy that, compared against the bombastic form of modern Republican politics, has been burnished over time. When he lost his bid for a second term in office to Bill Clinton in 1992, some critics blamed his ‘wimpiness’ and old-fashioned brand of politics. But the remembrances today laud the 41st president’s foreign policy triumphs and his genial and measured approach to partisan conflicts and domestic affairs.

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“The obituaries probed his personal life, too, with a focus on his marriage to Barbara, his wife of 73 years, who died less than eight months before him,” she continued.

“They mention his privileged upbringing, his mother who urged him to avoid the pronoun ‘I’ in his writings, the tragic death of his 3-year-old daughter Robin, his pride for his sons George and Jeb in their political careers, his tendency to run between holes on the golf course, and parachute jumps he made to celebrate his 75th, 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays.”

But what was really important, Olmstead said, was that he was accused of an improper physical joke that the former president said was a result of his Parkinson’s disease. A year after we dealt with it, Slate decided to go through a re-accusal of sorts.

“In October 2017, the actress Heather Lind wrote in Instagram that Bush ‘touched her from behind’ and ‘told a dirty joke’ while the two were standing together for a photo-op,” Olmstead wrote.

Do allegations like this have any place in remembrances of Bush's life?

“The next day, actress Jordana Grolnick detailed a similar story in an interview with Deadspin: ‘We all circled around him and Barbara for a photo, and I was right next to him,’ she says. ‘He reached his right hand around to my behind, and as we smiled for the photo he asked the group, ‘Do you want to know who my favorite magician is?’ As I felt his hand dig into my flesh, he said, ‘David Cop-a-Feel!’’

Olmstead did, of course, include the response from the president’s camp: “At age 93, President Bush has been confined to a wheelchair for roughly five years, so his arm falls on the lower waist of people with whom he takes pictures,” he said through a spokesman.

“To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner. Some have seen it as innocent; others clearly view it as inappropriate. To anyone he has offended, President Bush apologizes most sincerely.”

However, Olmstead cast doubt upon this with further allegations.

“One day later, author Christina Baker Kline wrote in Slate that she experienced a similar groping accompanied by the same ‘David Cop-a-Feel’ joke at a 2014 event and said that a driver for the Bush family asked her to be ‘discreet,'” Olmstead wrote.

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“Then Amanda Staples, a former Republican state Senate candidate, wrote on Instagram that Bush had groped her in 2006. A retired Pennsylvania journalist wrote on Facebook about a similar incident in 2004. Finally, Roslyn Corrigan told Time in November 2017 that Bush had groped her buttocks in during a photo in 2003, when she was 16 — bringing the number of accusers up to six. These last three incidents would have occurred before Bush was in a wheelchair.”

First, we’re making the assumption that all these stories are true, particularly those before he was in a wheelchair. Yes, I know, #BelieveAllWomen. These stories all cropped up with a minimum of context about a politician in his senescence.

And that’s really the second problem — one is more willing to believe the Parkinson’s defense when you consider this is a man in very late life who had never been accused of any sort of impropriety in decades of public service.

In fact, his record was sterling. Compare this with any major Kennedy or Bill Clinton, most of whom receive mild censure in the pages of Slate. In fact, upon the occasion of Ted “Waitress Sandwich” Kennedy’s death, the only serious censure I could in Slate archives came from the late Christopher Hitchens, a notable dissenter when it came to the tawdry “Kennedy legacy.” The rest of the staff seemed interested in what in Washington could be named after a man whose behavior around women was beyond odious.

This is a microcosm of the liberal reaction to a conservative’s death. Slate unbelievably found the media too fawning, at least in this aspect; consider The Associated Press’ controversial tweet that noted that “George H.W. Bush, a patrician New Englander whose presidency soared with the coalition victory over Iraq in Kuwait, but then plummeted in the throes of a weak economy that led voters to turn him out of office after a single term, has died.” AP later deleted it, but only because, it said, it “referenced his 1992 electoral defeat and omitted his WWII service.” Right.

“George H.W. Bush spent decades in political office and guided the country through a difficult time in world affairs,” Olmstead eventually notes at the end of the piece. “Few would argue that the allegations of inappropriate touching should dominate the remembrances of the late Bush during a time of grieving. Nevertheless, it seems noteworthy that those remembrances didn’t mention the allegations at all.”

Yes, after spending that much space on it, she claims that “(f)ew would argue that the allegations of inappropriate touching should dominate the remembrances of the late Bush during a time of grieving.”

Except Olmstead and those at Slate, of course.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture