Former President Bush was at the White House on Thursday for the unveiling of his official portrait. He took opportunity of the occasion to crack a joke that brought the house down, "Thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging."
George Bush's parents, former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, attended the ceremony. Los Angeles Times reports that artist John Howard Sanden did the paintings. The White House Historical Assn., a nonprofit group, commissioned the works that will become part of the permanent collection of the White House.
According to Los Angeles Times, the ceremony was a bipartisan event in which political rivals praised each others' service to the nation.
President Obama praised Bush for his fortitude during the 9/11 attacks and for making the transition of power in 2008 a smooth one. The Blaze, however, accuses Obama of insulting Bush at his portrait hanging. According to The Blaze, at a ceremony supposed to be free of partisan sniping, Obama could not stop himself reminding Bush that he left the economy in a mess. The Blaze reports Obama raised eyebrows while addressing a crowd of mostly former Bush administration officials and members of the Bush family, including his parents. He said: “The months before I took the oath of office were a chaotic time. We knew our economy was in trouble, our fellow Americans were in pain, but we wouldn’t know until later just how breathtaking the financial crisis had been."
According to The Blaze, Obama "couched his remarks with praise of the former president, thanking Bush for going out of his way 'in the middle of that crisis... to make sure that the transition to a new administration was as seamless as possible.” The Blaze concluded that what Obama really meant was: "Thanks for getting out of the way and letting the smart people take over, you jerk.'”
According to The Blaze, Bush on the contrary was "the picture of grace, not saying anything remotely insulting about Obama or his wife, and instead treating them with all the deference a sitting President might expect."
But Bush might have been alluding partly to Obama's remarks when he said: "Thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends to my hanging." He continued: "I am pleased my portrait brings an interesting symmetry to the White House collection. It now starts and ends with a George W."
Los Angeles Times reports the ceremony is a presidential tradition in which the sitting commander in chief hosts a portrait unveiling of his immediate predecessor in office. In 2004, Bush hosted Bill and Hillary Clinton for the unveiling of their White House portraits.