The Obamas finally got to unveil their official White House portraits, and I'm popping my buttons with pride and joy. As we watch the Brits say farewell to Queen Elizabeth, I find myself clinging more tightly to our graceful traditions and norms. Donald Trump, petulant fuck that he is, denied the Obamas this ceremony. Joe Biden hosted his old boss instead, and I'm swooning.
They are Chicagoans, and they represent the best of my city. The biracial son of a working mom and the descendant of slaves who earned Ivy League degrees, found each other, and made history. As Michelle herself said, "A girl like me, she was never supposed to be up there next to Jacqueline Kennedy and Dolley Madison." Well, now she is, and the Obamas are an example to every little kid in America. If you work hard, you too can achieve great things!
And, since Michelle mentioned JBKO, let's look at how the Kennedys' White House portraits were unveiled. It demonstrates how important the unveiling ceremony is historically, and how civil we as a people can be.
Once Jacqueline Kennedy left the White House in December, 1963, just weeks after her husband's murder, she only returned once. For the unveiling of their presidential portraits.
Richard Nixon was President when the paintings were finally completed in 1971. He could have gotten quite a bit of political mileage out of Jackie's return. By now, she was Jackie O, and everything she did was news.
Instead, the Nixons did something unexpected and beautiful. They invited Jackie and her children to come back "home" in secret. The two families -- the Nixons and their adult daughters, Jackie with 13-year-old Caroline and 10-year-old John -- had dinner together in the private residence. Caroline got to see her old classroom (The Kennedys had a Kindergarten onsite in the White House Solarium for Caroline and 19 other children). Then they viewed the portraits.
It gave Jackie an opportunity to come back to the White House quietly, away from the prying eyes and cameras that recorded her when she and her children left. It gave the children a chance to revisit the last place they lived with their father, and helped them understand how important their parents had been to the country.
No official photos of the evening were taken. The media received a press release the next day, after JFK's widow and children were back in New York. Here is Nixon's official diary entry for the event.
Sometimes I think Donald Trump exists simply to make Richard Nixon look better by comparison.