Talking to the White House Portraits

President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will return to the White House tomorrow for the hanging of their official portraits. While the portrait hanging ceremony traditionally has been an occasion for the current president to honor his predecessor, the event this year has raised eyebrows because President Barack Obama has spent much of his time in office bashing the man whose face will soon grace the White House walls.

If Obama were smart, he would take the opportunity to learn a lesson from his predecessor. Four years ago, then-President Bush welcomed former President Bill Clinton and former first lady Hillary Clinton back to the White House for their portrait hanging. “President Clinton and Senator Clinton, welcome home,” Bush said at the outset, and he meant it. What followed was an effusive and warm speech that made Clinton feel at home.

As you might know, my father and I have decided to call each other by numbers. (Laughter.) He’s 41, I’m 43. It’s a great honor to — it’s a great pleasure to honor number 42. We’re glad you’re here, 42. (Applause.) The years have done a lot to clarify the strengths of this man. As a candidate for any office, whether it be the state attorney general or the President, Bill Clinton showed incredible energy and great personal appeal. As chief executive, he showed a deep and far-ranging knowledge of public policy, a great compassion for people in need, and the forward-looking spirit the Americans like in a President. Bill Clinton could always see a better day ahead — and Americans knew he was working hard to bring that day closer.

The speech (written before my years as a speechwriter at the White House) is as magnanimous, graceful and wise as the man who delivered it. It’s worth reading in its entirety, and here’s hoping Obama takes the time to do so before the ceremony tomorrow.

  1. Blame The Innocent

    Why is Bush 43 showing up for this dog and pony show?

  2. DocJay

    I would bet he gets shown the snob treatment so as to not upset his liberal base or mostly because he is a snob.  Let’s see how it goes down.  Yes the classy thing is to do exactly what 43 did to 42, thanks for pointing this out for observation.

  3. Jonathan Horn
    C

    DocJay, I am very much hoping that doesn’t happen, but I confess I have no clue. There is no precedent for a president who more than years into his own term continues to blame everything on his predecessor.

    DocJay: I would bet he gets shown the snob treatment so as to not upset his liberal base or mostly because he is a snob.  Let’s see how it goes down.  Yes the classy thing is to do exactly what 43 did to 42, thanks for pointing this out for observation. · 2 minutes ago

    Edited 2 minutes ago

  4. Mont McNeil

    Thanks for the link.  That speech conveys a depth of graciousness that I have yet to detect from any of President Obama’s speechwriters.  I hope to be surprised.

  5. Jonathan Horn
    C

    Gracious is a good word for what too often is missing from Obama’s speech.

    Mont McNeil: Thanks for the link.  That speech conveys a depth of graciousness that I have yet to detect from any of President Obama’s speechwriters.  I hope to be surprised. · 0 minutes ago

  6. Jimmy Carter

    Thank You for reminding Me of what Presidential Class is. It’s been a few years….

  7. David Williamson

    Class? Mr Bush will be lucky if he is treated as well as were The Dalai Lama or Mr Netanyahu.

  8. Kervinlee

    Regardless of the reception the Bush’s will receive, I’m certain they will comport themselves with their usual magnanimous generosity.

  9. Sumomitch

    President Obama has made it politically awkward (if not impossible) to praise President Bush in the manner Bush did Clinton.  Consider if Bush had spent his first term blaming 9-11 on Clinton; even if he were personally inclined to praise Clinton in that way at the portraiture unveiling, it would’ve struck everyone (left and right) as nauseatingly insincere.  

    Obama’s politics of blame and resentment have their price, personally as well as politically.

  10. KC Mulville

    I’m certain that President Bush will conduct himself with class, respect, and it would never occur to him to do anything ungracious.

    Pity. Could be comedy gold.

  11. wilber forge

    Will this event be televised ?

  12. Johnny Dubya

    The Bush family is a class act, unlike some political families on the other side that have produced congressmen and senators and a president and a rapist and a manslaughterist.

  13. Israel P.

    I wonder whether someone in the WH will draw a mustache on Laura’s portrait. And if Obama will blame ………… Bush.

  14. Tom Lindholtz

    I’m sorry, but Obama is an ungracious, narcissistic, cretin.  I cannot, in my wildest imagination, imagine him behaving in a manner that would show class and dignity befitting the President of the United States.  He never has.  Why would he start now?

  15. Jonathan Horn
    C

    I believe the portrait hanging takes place a little before 1:30 tomorrow. I imagine that it would be televised on cable news.

    wilber forge: Will this event be televised ? · 1 hour ago

  16. DocJay

    Jonathan, would you please update us tomorrow with the speech or a link to it with your analysis.

  17. Terrell David

    He won’t start now with class and dignity.    The last thing he needs is a sound bite saying something positive about our last president.

    He doesn’t care enough to be nimble in this situation.  

  18. Jonathan Horn
    C

    Sure thing, DocJay. Look forward to seeing what happens and discussing this tomorrow.

  19. Jimmy Carter
    DocJay: Jonathan, would you please update us tomorrow with the speech or a link to it with your analysis. · 2 hours ago

    Are You sure the Mrs. won’t mind the dry firing at the monitor?

  20. Noesis Noeseos

    I need hardly repeat the general consensus of the thread, but Obama couldn’t even pretend to be gracious.  There is simply no space in his constricted psyche for magnanimity.  Bush will be lucky should he fare no worse than Jan Karski, a person Obama (presumably) doesn’t hate .