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Odds Are Heavily Against President Trump Unveiling Obama’s White House Portrait

Ann Le Grand

by Ann Le Grand in Politics

Jun 4, 2020 · 1:08 PM PDT

Donald Trump looking smug
Donald Trump's reelection odds have improved considerably today. Photo by Gage Skidmore (flickr).
  • What is the presidential portrait unveiling ceremony?
  • What is the relationship like between Trump and Obama?
  • Is there any reason to believe Trump will unveil Obama’s White House portrait?

Washington presidents have been participating in what must be one of the most congenial customs in which US leaders could possibly participate: the presidential portrait unveiling.

It’s a ceremony that began as a celebration in 1978, when President Jimmy Carter invited his predecessor, President Gerald Ford, back to the White House to make merry out of the uncovering of Ford’s painted portraiture. Now, for the first time in over 40 years, this tradition is facing its halt.

Odds President Trump Unveils Obama’s White House Portrait

Result Odds
Yes +500
No -1000

Odds taken June 4

Reportedly, former President Barack Obama has no interest in attending the ceremony, should it take place, and sitting President Donald Trump has not expressed care for upholding the tradition.

While Trump has been a man of many mocked words and Obama one of those continually commemorated, their remarks on the ceremony have been limited. Any tension between the two world leaders over the matter does not diverge, however, from their more extensively strained political climate.

With Senate Republicans having issued their first subpoena into actions of the Obama administration on May 20, any words between Trump and Obama have been predominantly geared towards Trump’s unfounded claims about the former administration conducting unspecified crimes.

The unveiling ceremony typically takes place during the run up to re-election, customarily housed in the Executive Mansion’s East Room. In past proceedings, even if running for re-election, presidents have been able to set aside their differences to come together for the event. This time, such concessions are not seemingly so.

Recent presidential media coverage, spurred by pandemic-related pressures, has been resounding Trump’s words on Obama that have tagged him as a “grossly incompetent” leader. From Obama’s mouth, we hear assessments of the White House’s response to the global affliction as that of, “an absolute chaotic disaster.”

Perhaps the relationship between 2020’s US President and its most immediate predecessor can be best summed up as one scared leader spending his sitting time (on his porcelain Twitter throne) tragically trying to dismantle the foundation built by his former, when it could be better spent reading Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility.

President portraits line the walls of the White House, their images echoing histories around its staff’s pivotal walk-and-talks.

President portraits line the walls of the White House, their images echoing histories around its staff’s pivotal walk-and-talks. The celebratory unveiling of those portraits is a commemorative baton passing of responsibility from one leader to the next; an honoring of the role’s duty; a marking of trust; a handshake, one hand pressing hope into another.

Those portraits continue to hang on those walls as mirrors into our own humanity, but when the leader walking those halls has a vision marred with ego, it’s hard for any of us, regardless of party, to see this simple ceremony happening.

Is there any reason to bet President Trump will unveil Obama’s White House portrait? It’s lovely to imagine so, for if a picture is worth a thousand words, what words are silenced by rescinding its time-honored exhibition? Today’s civil unrest is indicative that some of our traditions need to be broken. While it’s unfortunate that Trump will likely break this one of a simple simpatico, we can still place our hope in a future that embraces more practice in shaking hands.

Will President Trump unveil Obama’s White House portrait?

Pick: No (-1000)

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