When George W. Bush came back to his former home in Washington today to unveil his and his wife's official paintings, reporters were quick to note how much of an odd couple Obama and Dubya prove. AP's Ben Feller wrote that it seemed "a little awkward that Obama is about to preside as Bush's image and legacy are enshrined forever," given that "Obama is still bad-mouthing Bush's time in office.” Roger Runningen at Businessweeknoted that Obama “rarely passes up a chance to highlight the 'mess' he inherited when he took office." But both politicians were perfectly civil as they shared the spotlight this afternoon, cracking jokes and leaving the election on the trail. Obama even thanked his predecessor: “You also left me a really good TV sports package. I use it.”
As strange as it may seem to see the former president and the man who won by running against his legacy enjoy each other’s company, a Romney and Bush joint-event is an even bigger stretch of the imagination. First of all, the last thing Romney needs is the optics of being paired with the man credited for singularly ruining the Republican brand. Romney’s tepid and hardly acknowledged reception of Bush’s equally half-hearted endorsement is a case in point. Bush remains conservative kryptonite, and Romney’s keen to keep at least 12 paces away. But there’s an even bigger reason Romney is unlikely to match up with Dubya before November. Deeply misguided politics aside, Bush is a likeable fella. He carried the 2000 election on a wave of Southern charisma and his trademarked “compassionate conservatism”— a quirk rendered extinct in the Republican Party—and although we forgot his likeability during two wars and a flailing economy, it’s easy to remember now that he’s receded away from the main political stage. Romney, on the other hand, is not exactly known for his warmth and charm. As damaging as being connected to Bush’s policies at a joint event might be, it would be far worse if Bush stole the show and left Romney looking like a lesser politician.
So They Say
“I am also pleased, Mr. President, 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?”
—George W. Bush, cracking wise at his portrait unveiling at the White House
Daily Meme: Cheese With That Whine?
- David Axelrod paid a visit to Romney country today to rail against the candidate's tenure as governor.
- The key words being "Romney country." Axelrod could hardly be heard over theheckling of Mitt supporters.
- Or, as Buzzfeed described the scene, "Romney supporters responded by chanting 'Solllyyynndraaa' like Bruins fans heckling the visiting team."
- Which, as Sarah Frank notes, "led Axelrod to channel his inner Jack Nicholson and tell the crowd, 'You can't handle the truth, my friend!' Maybe he should have just led the group in a rousing rendition of 'Amercia the Beatiful.'"
- Meanwhile, Romney made a surprise visit to Solyndra. Yup, still trying to make this a big deal.
- It's not only the Massachusetts GOP that's angry at Dems—so are the victimized super PAC donors, who just want to exercise undue political power in peace.
- Politico also revealed today the obvious bias against Romney this election cycle.
- Or as Media Matters sums it up: "The conceit behind this whole affair is that Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer told [Politico reporters Mike] Allen and [Jim] VandeHei that 'liberal bias' is real and it's devastating, and Allen and Vandehei believe them."
What We're Writing
- Jamelle Bouie writes that the Obama campaign's attack on Romney's tenure as governor could backfire.
- Paul Waldman has a few words for the beleaguered billionaires who feel like they're being attacked by the left.
What We're Reading
- Amy Davidson takes a look at what the President's "Kill List" means for the future.
- Henry Kissinger is pretty meh about Mitt Romney.
- Sixteen big donors to Democratic super PACs have visited the White House.
- Molly Ball asks, "Was Mitt Romney a Good Governor?"
- John Edwards was acquitted on one federal charge today, and the judge declared a mistrial on the other five charges—here's a timeline of the long debacle, as told by the National Enquirer.
- Tim Murphy reports on Paul Festival, the party his supporters are throwing the week before the Tampa convention.
Poll of the Day
According to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, only two percent of registered female voters listed women's issues as their top issue for 2012; 60 percent listed the economy and 12 percent pointed to social issues. Keep in mind, too, that even though women's issues isn't a top issue, people are paying attention.