Jenna Bush Hager Tears Up While Interviewing Grandfather on 'Today'

The correspondent sat down for a tearful interview with the former president on his 88th birthday

Reports last week of Joe Biden cutting a rug at his daughter’s wedding got us thinking about how great it is to see a big-time politico just being a normal family man. And this morning on Today, Jenna Bush Hager’s interview of her grandfather, President George Herbert Walker Bush, provided another one of those poignant moments that seems to float utterly above the pettiness of politics—and that underscores the good stuff of life.

The Today correspondent interviewed her grandfather at Walker’s Point, Maine on the occasion of his 88th birthday, which is officially today. Both generations shed tears during the sit-down, which covered topics from the serious to the unexpectedly funny. A sample of the funny:

The president on aging: “It’s better than the alternative.”

On his choice of socks, which made headlines at George W. Bush’s presidential portrait unveiling: “I like a colorful sock. I’m a sock man.”

On Justin Bieber’s music: “I don’t think I’d like it.”

The more touching moments came when Bush Hager asked her grandfather about his marriage to her grandmother, Barbara, whom he called the number one person in his life and “a wonder.” The correspondent asked her grandfather about their big family, which includes six kids, 17 grandkids, and the newest edition: a great granddaughter born last year. He wishes he would be around to see her grow old, the president said, but he knows he won’t be. As for whom he’d like to see first in heaven? Barbara, if she predeceases him, his mother and dad, or maybe Robin, their little girl who died.

Summing up the interview, Bush Hager said: “And that is my grandfather: at times funny, at times reflective, always filled with wisdom he’s happy to share with his family.”

The president was reluctant to answer a question about how he imagines his political legacy will play out, because he assumes history will settle the matter fairly. But from the affecting interview, it’s clear that his most important personal legacy has already been written.

Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.

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