By Corrie MacLaggan
AUSTIN, Texas Dec 27 Former President George
H.W. Bush remained in the intensive care unit of a Houston
hospital on Thursday, but his longtime chief of staff issued a
reassuring message, urging the media and the public to "put the
harps back in the closet."
Bush, 88, a Republican who during his one term in office led
a coalition of nations that ejected Iraqi forces from Kuwait in
1991, was admitted to Methodist Hospital Nov. 23 for bronchitis.
He was transferred to intensive care on Sunday after
setbacks including a persistent fever, family spokesman Jim
McGrath has said.
"I don't have any guidance so far today except to say no
news is good news," McGrath said on Thursday. Hospital spokesman
George Kovacik added that the former president remained in
intensive care on Thursday.
But in a statement addressed to the "national media" on
Bush's condition on Thursday, chief of staff Jean Becker sought
to strike an upbeat tone.
"Yes, President Bush is in ICU where he is getting the best
medical care in the world," she wrote. "Is he sick? Yes. Does he
plan on going anywhere soon? No. He has every intention of
"He would ask me to tell you to please 'put the harps back
in the closet,'" she said.
On a more serious note, Becker said her boss was expected to
remain in the hospital for "a while," adding, "He is 88 years
old, he had a terrible case of bronchitis which then triggered a
series of complications." She did not elaborate.
McGrath on Wednesday described Bush as alert and talking to
On Thursday evening, McGrath released a statement from Bush
mourning the death of retired Army General Norman Schwarzkopf,
commander of the U.S. and allied forces that routed Iraqi ruler
Saddam Hussein's military from Kuwait during a six-week war in
He said the four-star general, who died at age 78,
"epitomized the 'duty, service, country' creed that has defended
our freedom and seen this great nation through our most trying
Bush has lower-body parkinsonism, which causes a loss of
balance, and has used wheelchairs for more than a year.
The 41st U.S. president and father of former President
George W. Bush, he served as a congressman, ambassador to the
United Nations, envoy to China, CIA director and vice president
for two terms under Ronald Reagan during a political career
spanning four decades.