““The Patrician President and the Reporterette: A Screwball Story”, The New York Times

By Maureen Dowd, Opinion Columnist, Dec. 3, 2018

My faithful correspondent, Poppy Bush, scribbling and typing notes through decades of history.

Nobody understood our relationship — least of all us.

It was, admittedly, odd.

“I like you,” the first President Bush wrote me once, after he was out of office. “Please don’t tell anyone.”

In decades of correspondence, he tried to figure out why we stayed in touch, beginning one note “Darn you Maureen Dowd” and mischievously observing in another, “Sometimes I found it better around my family to go ‘Maureen who?’”

At times, typing on what he called “my little IBM,’’ he signed off “Con afecto, GB,’’ or if I was writing critically about his sons, “Con Afecto, still, just barely though! gb.’’ Or “Love” scratched out and replaced with the handwritten rebuke, “not quite there yet.”

I come from a line of Irish maids who worked for the first families of America, the Mellons and the Gores, wealthy, aristocratic families like the Bushes.

George Herbert Walker Bush, known by his childhood nickname of Poppy, was cared for by maids and chauffeured to kindergarten at Greenwich Country Day School. His idea of cursing like a sailor entailed unleashing a string of epithets like “Golly!” “Darn!” and “Oh, shoot!”

His father was a Wall Street banker turned Connecticut senator who was straight out of central casting: craggy, 6-foot-4, wearing gray worsted suits even in warm weather. My brothers, Michael and Martin, teenage pages at the Capitol in the ’50s, were in awe of him. Michael was in the Senate mail room one day when the young man sorting letters held up one addressed to the Connecticut senator and mused: “You just know a guy with a name like Prescott Bush is not driving a bus.”

If the Clintons are the careless Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Barack Obama is a Camus-like figure of existential estrangement and Donald Trump is a flimflam man out of “Huckleberry Finn,’’ H.W. was Bertie Wooster, an airy WASP propelled to the top by the old boys’ network.

In another life, I probably would have been serving President Bush his vodka martini, made to perfection with a splash of dry vermouth, two olives and a cocktail onion.