Obama visited the White House yesterday and he and Michelle were met by George and Laura. Quite a scene, it was as if we saw the emotional transfer of the power of the presidency from the old to the new. I especially liked Obama putting his hand on Bush's back, showing who was in control.
What surprised me is how gracious Bush was reported to have been. There seemed to be genuine respect towards Obama and an acknowledgment of the enormity of Obama's accomplishment.
I think it boils down to two things. The first is that being president is a VERY exclusive club of a very small group of highly exceptional men and Bush has a great deal of respect for that club and the men in it. Only natural he would feel that way since that makes him exceptional too. But Bush is right, it IS a very exclusive club of which he and Obama are two of only five total living membership. And despite what anyone thinks of Bush it really is quite an exceptional thing to be President of the United States.
The second, I think, is that Bush is genuinely choked up at the enormity of the US having the first black president in history. I can think of many bad things to say about Bush but racist isn't one of them, after all, he put Colin Powell and Condi Rice in his cabinet. As choked up and overwhelmed and pleased by this idea as I am, I think Bush's feeling are very close to mine. I also think he felt like it was a great honor for him to be the one to greet our first black president and show him the White House.
Many of my friends have theorized that Bush had never intended to give up power and would declare martial law before leaving office, this goes back to before the 2004 election. There was lots of evidence to support this, including a law Bush signed that made it easier for the president to do that very thing. Creepy.
But it's all gone wrong for him and he now has a 22% approval rating, a new low for any sitting president and he probably feels like he couldn't get away with stealing the presidency under current circumstances. I also think Bush is getting pretty stressed out by it all and really, really wants to be out of the office. Whatever was going on behind the scenes Bush was very gracious yesterday with President-Elect Obama and I think when he does something good he should get credit for it.