Bush unveils official portrait at White House and steals spotlight with gibes
London, June 1 (ANI): Although White House belongs to Barack Obama now, his predecessor and political foil George W Bush stole the show on Thursday with his wisecracks and grin.
Free from the stress of the presidency and after three years spent largely out of the spotlight, a relaxed and jovial Bush came back with his father, former President George HW Bush, for a rare gathering of three commanders in chief.
"Thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging," the Telegraph quoted Bush as saying.
The former president said this in reference to members of his family and former staff, invited back to the executive mansion for the unveiling of his and Laura Bush's official portraits.
"Behave yourselves," he jokingly admonished his crowd.
Mr Bush told the current president he was pleased to know "that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, 'What would George do?'"
Former first lady Barbara Bush was there, too, as were George W. and Laura's daughters, Jenna and Barbara.
While Bush, Obama and their wives spoke about the warmth between their families, there was little of that on display between the two presidents.
They traded handshakes but no hugs. There was little casual small talk as they entered and exited the East Room or as they stood on stage together.
"We may have our differences politically, but the presidency transcends those differences," Obama said.
That the relationship between Mr Obama and Mr Bush is cordial but not close is hardly a surprise.
Obama is still trashing Bush's time in office, blaming him for the economic crisis, the soaring federal debt and the unfinished wars the Democrat inherited from his Republican predecessor.
In the midst of an election season, Obama is trying to lump the economic policies of his current Republican rival, Mitt Romney, in with Bush's.
Standing side by side in the grand, chandeliered East Room, Obama was mostly formal and subdued while Bush was light-hearted and engaging, relishing in the warm greetings from veterans of his two terms in office.
Bush said he was pleased that the White House portrait collection now starts and ends with a "George W".
Noting that George Washington's portrait was famously saved by first lady Dolley Madison when the British burned the White House in 1814, Bush pointed to his own portrait and told Michelle Obama that "if anything happens, there's your man."
With a smile, the First Lady assured him in her own remarks, "I promise, I'm going straight for" it in case of emergency.
The former president turned emotional as he spoke of his own portrait hanging near his father's - "number 41" as he called him. On the verge of tears, the younger Bush thanked his father, who attended the ceremony in a wheelchair, for "the greatest gift possible, unconditional love". (ANI)
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