Obama to host W for portrait ceremony

Somebody should make sure that the White House staff gets the place all spruced up and sets out the good china for dinner, because the Obamas are expecting company. And who is the very special guest? None other than the president’s predecessor.

George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, are expected to return to the White House later this month to be honored by President Barack Obama with the unveiling of their official portraits that will hang at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The White House confirmed on Friday that the Bushes are slated to revisit their Washington home of eight years on May 31 for a rare joint appearance between the current and past president.

Bush spokesman Freddy Ford said, “The Bushes are looking forward to being back in Washington and seeing some of their friends. They appreciate the Obamas’ hospitality in hosting the portrait hanging.”

Well, it’s not as if Obama had much of a choice here, and you would expect both men to be gracious and professional about it. This is something of a rare event for W, who doesn’t do much in public these days with the exception of charity events. And that’s kind of refreshing, to be honest. It’s something of a return to what used to be traditional among former occupants of the West Wing, including Reagan and Bush’s father. Once out of office, they tended to stay out of the way and not get too critical of those who came after them or try to keep influencing policy. Clinton was definitely an exception to that rule, but Bush 43 seems content to live his life and leave Washington to run itself.

Of course, as The Hill notes, there may still be something of an awkward moment or two in store.

But despite his self-imposed exile, Bush has made headlines in recent days. The former president offered an endorsement of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney earlier this week after speaking at a human-rights forum in Washington on Monday.

“I’m for Mitt Romney,” the former president said as the doors of the elevator he was riding closed, according to ABC News.

That part shouldn’t come as much of a surprise either, really. It’s not as if W has been out on the campaign trail stumping for Romney or anyone else. A reporter caught him getting on the elevator and asked who he would be supporting. The guy’s still a Republican… what was he supposed to say?

I don’t expect Bush to try to politicize the portrait ceremony or give any red meat interviews while he’s in town. He’ll probably go through with the ceremony, thank everyone and then head back home. The only real question is, will Obama be able to restrain himself and respond in kind? After all, he’s still blaming his soon to be guest for the economy right up to the present day.

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David Strom 6:01 PM on February 01, 2023