…and laughter. This is just precious.

…PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you, sit down. Sit down. Behave yourselves. (Laughter.) Mr. President, thank you for your warm hospitality. Madam First Lady, thank you so much for inviting our rowdy friends — (laughter) — to my hanging. (Laughter.)

Laura and I are honored to be here. Mr. Vice President, thank you for coming. We are overwhelmed by your hospitality. And thank you for feeding the Bush family, all 14 members of us who are here. (Laughter.) I want to thank our girls for coming. I thank Mom and Dad, brother, sister, in-laws, aunts and uncles. I appreciate you taking your time. I know you’re as excited as Laura and me to be able to come back here, and particularly thank the people who helped make this house a home for us for eight years, the White House staff.

I want to thank Fred Ryan and the White House Historical Association and Bill Allman, the White House curator. I am pleased that my portrait brings an interesting symmetry to the White House collection. It now starts and ends with a George W. (Laughter and applause.)

When the British burned the White House, as Fred mentioned, in 1814, Dolley Madison famously saved this portrait of the first George W. (Laughter.) Now, Michelle, if anything happens there’s your man. (Laughter and applause.) I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do? (Laughter.)

I am honored to be hanging near a man who gave me the greatest gift possible, unconditional love — and that would be number 41. (Applause.) I want to thank John Howard Sanden for agreeing to use his considerable talents to paint my likeness. You’ve done a fine job with a challenging subject. (Laughter.)

In the portrait, there’s a painting by W.H.D. Koerner called, “A Charge to Keep.” It hung in the Oval Office for eight years of my presidency. I asked John to include it, because it reminds me of the wonderful people with whom I was privileged to serve. Whether they served in the Cabinet or on the presidential staff, these men and women — many of whom are here — worked hard and served with honor. We had a charge to keep and we kept the charge.

It is my privilege to introduce the greatest First Lady ever — sorry, Mom. (Laughter.) Would you agree to a tie? (Laughter.) A woman who brought such grace and dignity and love in this house. (Applause.)

MRS. BUSH: Thank you all. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Thank you very much. Thank you, darling.

Thank you, President and Mrs. Obama. Thank you for your kindness and your consideration today. It was really gracious of you to invite us back to the White House to hang a few family pictures. (Laughter.) And I’m sure you know nothing makes a house a home like having portraits of its former occupants staring down at you from the walls. (Laughter.)

This is not the first time I’ve had the opportunity to confront an artistic likeness of myself. A few years ago, just after the 2008 election, a friend sent me something he’d found in the gift shop of the National Constitutional Center in Philadelphia. It was a Laura Bush bobblehead doll. (Laughter.) He said he found it on the clearance shelf. (Laughter.)

But I’m flattered and grateful to know that this particular work has a permanent home. And thanks to the masterful talent of John Howard Sanden, I like it a whole lot better than I do that bobblehead doll. (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, John Howard Sanden — you’re terrific to work with. And thanks to Elizabeth and your family who have joined you today. Thank you very, very much, John. (Applause.)

And, of course, it’s meaningful to me as a private person to know that these portraits will be on view at the White House, that my portrait will hang just down the hall from my mother-in-law, and that George’s portrait will hang very close to his dad’s. But what’s more meaningful is it’s meaningful to me as a citizen. This was our family’s home for eight years. It was our home, but it wasn’t our house. This house belongs to the people whose portraits will never hang here, the ordinary and not-so-ordinary people whose lives inspired us and whose expectations guided us during the years that we lived here.

In this room are many of the people who stood by us as we faced the tragedy of September 11th, and who worked with us in the years after. Thanks to each and every one of you for your service to our country. (Applause.)

I hope others will see in this portrait what I see: a woman who was honored and humbled to live in the White House during a period of great challenge, and who will never forget the countless American faces who make up the true portrait of that time.

Thank you all very much. Thanks so much. And thank you, Michelle, if you want to come up. (Applause.)

7 Responses to “Grace”

  1. Mr. Bingley says:

    They are just such classy people.

  2. major dad says:

    Classy indeed…

  3. JeffS says:

    Obama and Michelle will never be that classy.

  4. tree hugging sister says:

    Jeff, I’d be happy if they just wished they could be and attempted some humility once in a blue moon.


  5. Jim - PRS says:

    Class: Either you have it, or you don’t. it can’t be faked. George and Laura Bush have it, and the grifters who currently occupy the White House never, ever will.

  6. JeffS says:

    Sis, that ain’t gonna happen. Obama and Michelle live to urinate on all things American. They learned that from Ayers.

  7. nightfly says:

    Such sweet folks, aren’t they? I have the feeling that if W had to borrow your lawn mower, when you got it back it’s be cleaner than when it came out, and the gas tank would be full. You might also find a box of homemade cookies on your porch.

    With O, you’d have to sneak into his garage to take the darn thing back eleven months later.

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