The Unveiling of President Obama’s Portrait Came With Tensions From Team Biden

OPINION:  This article contains commentary which may reflect the author’s opinion

Back in April, Barack Obama’s visit to the Biden White House for the 12th anniversary of Obamacare backfired on Joe Biden, as crowds streamed past him and to Obama. During Obama’s visit, Biden invited Obama to demonstrate unity in presenting the plans the Biden administration had to reform Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Health Care Act.

Before Biden was dissed in favor of Obama, the event had been a friendly affair between the two politicians, who were joking about the time they spent together under Obama’s tenure. A crowded East Room roared and cheered as the Democrats hugged, joked, and laughed.

It didn’t go well for Biden after that as Obama started his speech by referring to him as “Vice President Biden” to much laughter and applause. Obama joked about changes made, and said Secret Service agents are “forced to wear aviators” and added “there’s a cat running around” the White House.

It’s being reported that Obama and Michelle Obama were not without controversy when they returned to the White House for the unveiling of their official portraits this week.

Obama praised Biden during the ceremony, which was hosted by Biden and his wife, first lady Jill Biden, who served as Obama’s vice president for eight years.

“The country is better off than when you first took office. And we should all be deeply grateful for that,” Mr. Obama lied.

A Washington Post report suggests, however, that the outward chiddiness between Obama and Biden masks deep-rooted and “long-simmering tension and even some jealousy between the circles around Obama and Biden,” especially since Obama humorously referred to him in April as “Vice President Biden.”

Biden’s staffer “saw the quip, intentional or not, as part of a pattern of arrogance from Obama and a reminder of the disrespect many felt from Obama’s cadre of aides toward Biden,” WaPo is reporting.

Aides who spoke to the Post said the so-called “bromance” between the two men was a charade. Moreover, Biden and his team were resentful of Obama for reportedly wanting Hillary Clinton to replace him before he won re-election in 2012.

“Some Biden loyalists are resentful that Obama didn’t throw his weight behind Biden’s presidential aspirations, complaining that even now Obama’s team does not fully respect Biden. Obama loyalists are frustrated that Biden’s aides regularly boast of how they have avoided the mistakes of the Obama White House, such as failing to sufficiently tout the president’s accomplishments,” according to the Post.

Democratic leaders say they urgently need both presidents to bolster party turnout in the upcoming midterms. Obama is revered by many in the Democratic base, while Biden retains a strong appeal to Democratic centrists and has drawing power as the sitting president.

Former GOP President Gerald Ford was invited to the White House in 1978 to unveil his portrait, which has been ongoing since then-Democratic President Jimmy Carter. According to the Post, President Donald Trump, who shunned the tradition due to a phony ‘Russiagate’ probe that was launched during Barack Obama’s tenure, did not partake in Wednesday’s event.

Biden and Obama were close to one another throughout Obama’s presidency, having lunch together every week, and Obama calling him “the best vice president America’s ever had.

“I think they had a very rich partnership during the Obama administration,” said a once-senior adviser to Obama, David Axelrod, who was at Wednesday’s event, to the Post. “I think it would be a mistake to suggest otherwise.”

However, the Post reported, “aides say the ‘bromance.’ was always exaggerated.”

“The two had a strong working relationship and a personal friendship, but aides also noted that the men come from different generations (a 19-year age gap), different backgrounds (Biden served 36 years in the Senate; Obama served less than four) and have different styles (Obama is a gifted orator and deep thinker; Biden is the consummate retail politician who often goes off script),” the Post asserted.

During Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, Biden gaffed when he said, “You’ve got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” Afterward, Biden apologized for the comment.

Furthermore, according to The New York Times, Obama refused to endorse Biden’s candidacy early on, and even tried to dissuade Biden from running for president in 2020:

The two men spoke at least a half dozen times before Mr. Biden decided to run, and Mr. Obama took pains to cast his doubts about the campaign in personal terms.”You don’t have to do this, Joe, you really don’t,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Biden earlier this year, according to a person familiar with the exchange. Mr. Biden — who thinks he could have defeated Donald Trump four years ago—responded by telling Mr. Obama he could never forgive himself if he turned down a second shot at Mr. Trump.

During the event in April, as a result of negative social media commentary, Obama did a little damage control by tweeting out, “Always great catching up with @POTUS” and adding “Thanks for all you’re doing to help even more Americans get access to quality, affordable health care”


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