Jeff Zeleny and Kevin Liptak, reporting for CNN:
White House tradition calls for portraits of the most recent
American presidents to be given the most prominent placement, in
the entrance of the executive mansion, visible to guests during
That was the case through at least July 8, when President Donald
Trump welcomed Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. The
two stood in the Cross Hall of the White House and made remarks,
with the portraits of Clinton and Bush essentially looking on as
they had been throughout Trump’s first term. But in the days after
after that, the Clinton and Bush portraits were moved into the Old
Family Dining Room, a small, rarely used room that is not seen by
That places the paintings well outside of Trump’s vantage point in
the White House. In their previous location, the pictures would
have been seen daily as Trump descends the staircase from his
third floor private residence or when he hosts events on the state
floor of the White House. Now, they hang in a space used mainly
for storing unused tablecloths and furniture.
The story of these portraits, in itself, is not important. But what’s behind this petty insignificant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-events story is the same fundamental truth that is the cause of so many deeply important problems happening right now: Donald Trump has the small mind and emotional maturity of a petulant child.
The portrait story is all the more clarifying given that Bush is a two-term Republican. It’s hard to imagine a more politically polarizing president than Bush. We do live in a polarized time, and George W. Bush exemplified that polarization on the left-right divide. He was certainly far more conservative than Trump, both in rhetoric and policy. (Clinton was, famously, a moderate, and left office with the highest approval ratings of any president since World War II. Why Trump despises him is plainly obvious and has nothing to do with politics.) Trump’s problem with Bush isn’t partisan. It’s about adherence to foundational American ideals such as the rule of law, and the idea that the President of the United States is the leader of all Americans, not just those who support him. Say what you want about Bush’s presidency, when the nation faced a true crisis on 9/11, he brought the nation together.
When faced with this crisis, Donald Trump, mind-bogglingly, drove the country further apart. His remaining supporters are with him not despite this, but because of it, like pigs wallowing in mud.
★ Sunday, 19 July 2020