When former president Barack Obama returned to the White House for the first time in April, he received a hero’s welcome from Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kissed Obama’s hand. White House staffers eagerly angled for photos. And Democrats celebrated the Affordable Care Act, the former president’s signature domestic-policy accomplishment.
Then Obama opened his remarks by saying, “Thank you, Vice President Biden.”
President Biden laughed and saluted, and Obama walked away from the podium and gave Biden a hug, vowing he was just making a joke. “That was all set up,” he said.
But for some longtime Biden staffers, the zinger punctured the celebratory mood. They 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.
None of that is expected to be on public display Wednesday when Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama return to the White House for a ceremony to unveil their official White House portraits. Instead, the atmosphere is expected to be similar to a family reunion, filled with stories, jokes and affection.