In the heart of a re-election year, Obama will get to rise above the fray for a day and play statesman.
-- Nameless, at Associated Press/WashPo
Ben Feller writes for the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — This is a little awkward.
President Barack Obama can't seem to stop bad-mouthing the record of former President George W. Bush. But on Thursday, Obama is going to welcome his predecessor and proudly preside as Bush's image and legacy are enshrined at the White House forever.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will join Bush and his wife, Laura, as their official portraits are unveiled. The incumbent is keeping up a presidential tradition typically defined by cheer and graciousness, but not without some uneasiness.
Hardly a day goes by without Obama or his aides talking about the mess they inherited — meaning, from Bush.
It was just one week ago that Obama, revving up campaign donors, turned Bush into a punch line. Obama depicted Republican rival Mitt Romney as a peddler of bad economic ideas, helping the rich at the expense of the middle class, and then added to laughs: "That was tried, remember? The last guy did all this."
Now the last guy is coming back.
So, too, will his father, former President George H.W. Bush and the former first lady Barbara Bush. The Obamas will hold forth in the ornate East Room as George and Laura Bush are honored for their service before an invited audience of Bush friends and former staff members.
"President Bush has been around politics a long time. He's been around how presidents deal with each other for a long time," said Tony Fratto, one of his former spokesmen at the White House. "He has an understanding for separating the necessities of political rhetoric from the job itself."
Bush showed that all through 2008, when Obama assailed his record on war and the economy en route to the White House. It was hard to remember at times that Obama was running not against Bush, who was finishing the last year of a tumultuous eight-year term, but rather Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Is anyone buying the notion that Obama's treatment of Bush has been a necessity? Or that the "community" of people who work and have worked in the White House "transcends political... differences." That last invention was Jay Carney's -- "in the same briefing Wednesday in which he reminded everyone that Obama inherited a huge budget deficit (from Bush.)"
.... Jenna Bush Hager, one of the George W. Bush's daughters, said she was invited for the ceremony and that the day will include a private lunch for the Bushes with the Obamas.
She told "Fox & Friends" the day will be a chance to "celebrate his work, 'cause he worked pretty hard so I think he deserves at least a painting."
As to where it will go, she said: "Probably in the very back somewhere. I'm just kidding."
The painting will actually hang prominently in the formal entrance hall to the White House...
White House Dossier has Obama's schedule for the day.
9:30 am || Receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
12:10 pm || Lunch with Mrs. Obama, George W. Bush and Laura Bush; Red Room
1:25 pm || Attends official unveiling of portraits of George W. Bush and Laura Bush; East Room
5:00 pm || Meets with Treasury Secretary Geithner