George E. Condon Jr.: This Is How America Will Remember Barack Obama
Long after the last partisan battle has been fought over Obamacare, long after Barack Obama has settled into a comfortable post-presidency, and long after the last joke has been made about some Joe Biden verbal misstep, people will remember the moment when the always-in-control president struggled to control his emotions. They will remember the moment when president and vice president embraced in front of the altar and exchanged heartfelt kisses on the cheek. And they will remember how their hearts ached at this intimate glimpse of one family’s pain. In an age when so many political moments are scripted, this was real. In a country whose presidents and vice presidents have rarely been close, this was genuine closeness. In an administration that prides itself on being hip, this was decidedly old-fashioned love.
The funeral at St. Anthony’s was another highly personal moment for the president. White House aides have often tried to persuade reporters that this president and this vice president have a close bond. Just as often, reporters have voiced skepticism, aware of a two-century history of relationships ranging from open enmity to cool indifference between the men in the White House and their vice presidents. But more than six years into the presidency, it may be time to accept the claims as accurate. Even when Biden has misspoken or jumped the gun on positions, aides insist Obama harbored no anger at the vice president. “That’s just Joe being Joe,” they often say. “It’s part of who he is.” They always appreciated Biden’s loyalty and humanity. Saturday was a chance for the president to return that embrace. How he did it will be hard to forget.