Jeb Bush’s Wife’s Bling Addiction Could Make Her a Typical First Lady

columbia bushJeb Bush's famously reclusive wife is making headlines for a surprising reason: Apparently Columbia Bush spent more than $90,000 on jewelry at one South Florida store in 1995. And in 1999 she was detained and fined for misrepresenting a $19,000 jewelry shopping spree in Paris. Yikes!


Ms. Bush reported only $500 worth of jewelry at the time because she didn't want her husband to know how much she'd blown on bling during her solo trip. She was utterly humiliated when the story went public.

"The embarrassment I felt made me ashamed to face my family and friends,” Ms. Bush said soon afterwards in a speech. “It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”

I'm thinking if the worst feeling you've ever had in your life is that time your husband and the world found out about your $19,000 jewelry shopping spree in Paris, maybe your life is kind of awesome? I can definitely think of worse feelings!

Why do we care? Because Jeb Bush may run for president, and his wife's jewelry spending habits suggest the couple may be a tad out of touch with middle- and low-income Americans' lives.

But seriously, I can muster some compassion for Ms. Bush. I mean, how many of us have fibbed to our spouses about how much we spent on something? Derr, maybe not over tens of thousands of dollars, but still. So Ms. Bush once had a bit of a compulsive spending problem. If that's the one "scandalous" eccentricity they can dig up about this possible future first lady, it's certainly a relatively mild one.

As a matter of fact, many of our first ladies have struggled, often publicly, with a whole range of weaknesses.

Mary Todd Lincoln suffered from depression and migraines, and may have had bipolar disorder. She also got into hot water when she went way over budget decorating the White House.

Betty Ford turned her years-long struggle with alcoholism into a crusade, eventually founding the Betty Ford Center.

Nancy Regan was mocked for consulting astrologers for advice on the best days for her husband to schedule public appearances. But she later admitted her obsession was a direct result of her fears for her husband's safety following the 1081 assassination attempt.

Bess Truman's father committed suicide in the home when she was a girl. She kept the incident secret from the public, and didn't want her husband, Harry S. Truman, to run for office for fear that what she considered a scandal would tarnish his image.

So really, Ms. Bush isn't so unusual. And considering she's the daughter of a Mexican migrant worker, I think she probably still remembers what it's like to be poor. If anything, it makes her spendy ways a little more understandable. Maybe she was still trying to figure out how to fit in with her husband's social class, even after 20 years of marriage. At any rate, I have to agree when Jeb Bush says his wife's spending is "between her and me."

What do you think of Columbia Bush's diamond-laden history?


Image © Jacquelyn Martin/AP/Corbis


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