It’s an American tradition that has historically superseded political discord, world crises and even death. For more than a half-century, each president has hosted a White House ceremony unveiling the official portrait of his White House predecessor.
Until it was the black guy’s turn.
NBC reports that the dumpster pyromaniacs presently occupying the White House will be the first administration to eschew the modern ritual of unveiling the presidential portrait of the immediate past president. And, according to White House insiders, even if Donald Trump recovers from his likely hydroxychloroquine-induced heart attack and wins a second term, it will be at least 2025 until Obama sees his official portrait hanging beside every president since George Washington.
And I know some people will say that this is petty as fuck. It’s not. Isaiah Thomas refusing to shake Michael Jordan’s hand is petty. Nancy Pelosi pointing out that Donald Trump is morbidly obese is petty (accurate, but petty). Discontinuing an American tradition because your ego is more fragile than Derrick Rose’s knees is childish, immature and downright unpatriotic. It’s fuckboy-ish. It’s the move of a seventh-grade Karen who’s jealous because her best friend, Becky, is going to the prom with Chad because Becky knows how Karen feels about Chad ever since he kissed her down at the lake.
I’d bet my entire 401(k) that if Obama attended a White House ceremony, Donald Trump would serve KFC.
The presidential portraits at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. are different from the ones that hang in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery where Barack and Michelle’s portraits brought in more than one million visitors the first year after they were unveiled in 2018. The Obamas had begun preparing for the years-long process required for their White House portraits. By 2017, the only first couple we acknowledge had selected an artist and already finalized the contract with the privately funded White House Historical Association.
Maybe Trump is too busy. For comparison, the Obamas hosted George and Laura Bush’s unveiling on May 31, 2012, while he was also managing his reelection campaign, fighting with a Republican House and Senate, discussing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, dealing with Russia firing missiles at allies and working with the World Health Organization to stop a global pandemic.
But we know Trump ain’t no Obama.
Trump is unconcerned about shunning yet another presidential custom, and he has attacked Obama to an extent no other president has done to a predecessor. Most recently he’s made unfounded accusations that Obama committed an unspecified crime.
Obama, for his part, has no interest in participating in the post-presidency rite of passage so long as Trump is in office, the people familiar with the matter said.
Being that Trump has questioned Obama’s status as an American, insinuated that he should be arrested and called Barack Obama everything but a child of white Jesus, I understand Obama’s lack of interest in hanging out with Donald, especially knowing that Trump is desecrating the foundation of the democracy that Obama took an oath to protect.
Obama probably just wants to make the presidency great again
To be fair, it took more than eight years for someone to hang John F. Kennedy’s portrait and he didn’t attend his official unveiling either. It was the only time that Jacqueline Kennedy visited the White House after she ceased being the first lady. Of course, JFK had a great excuse for not attending the private ceremony in 1971:
He died in 1963.
Neither Barack or Michelle Obama has spoken on the record about this dumb stuff, but our sources tell us that the royal couple may be reluctant to attend because they’re afraid they might have to try Melania’s culturally appropriated collard greens.
The Root has also found a clip of Donald Trump practicing for his presidential portrait unveiling.