Former Obama Photographer Trolls Trump by Reflecting on 'Respect' and 'Class' of Previous Presidents

Former Obama Photographer Trolls Trump by Reflecting on 'Respect' and 'Class' of Previous Presidents

May 21, 2020

Former White House photographer Pete Souza joined the chorus of backlash against President Donald Trump for recent attacks against Barack Obama.

Souza, who was the official White House photographer for Obama and Ronald Reagan, trolled Trump on Instagram this week by posting a photo showcasing the Obama family's friendship with former president George W. Bush's family — a stark comparison to Trump's bitter disdain for Obama.

“Tradition. Respect. Class. Remember that?” Souza, 65, wrote on Instagram alongside a photo showing the Obamas sharing lunch with the Bush family at the White House in 2012 after Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush's presidential portraits were unveiled.

Souza's caption references the growing rivalry between Trump and Obama, which has been reignited in recent weeks.

NBC News reported on Tuesday that Trump and Obama both have no interest in continuing the longstanding White House tradition of holding a ceremony to unveil the presidential portraits, which began in 1978.

The presidents' tumultuous relationship is unprecedentedly tense and was highlighted this week by both men balking at the idea of meeting each other at the White House amid ongoing tensions.

Trump has repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about Obama throughout his political career, dating back to his fueling of an unfounded and racist conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the United States. (Obama was born in Hawaii.)

And in recent weeks, Trump contended that Obama was guilty of the "biggest political crime in American history," but hasn't said what crime he's accusing Obama of committing. "You know what the crime is," Trump, 73, told reporters at the White House earlier this month. "The crime is very obvious to everybody."

Obama, 58, has not responded to Trump's baseless allegations and has made his own veiled digs at the president's widely criticized response to the coronavirus pandemic in recent months — without naming Trump directly.

The former two-term president tweeted in late April saying that the U.S. is still waiting on a "coherent national plan" to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed at least 94,200 lives in the U.S. as of May 21.

"All those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? It turns out that they don’t have all the answers," Obama told students this past weekend during a virtual commencement speech. "A lot of them aren’t even asking the right questions."

The Obamas welcomed the Bush family and members of the Bush administration to the White House in 2012 as a part of an ongoing presidential tradition meant to highlight the bipartisanship of the federal government, while honoring the last president and first lady with a ceremony to unveil their official portraits at the White House.

"We may have our differences politically," Obama told Bush at the time, "but the presidency transcends those differences."

Michelle Obama, who would have her portrait hung alongside her husband's at the White House, has also bridged the bipartisan gap by building an ongoing friendship with the Bush family.

Mrs. Obama previously explained how her friendship with Bush transcends politics. "Our values are the same," the former first lady told Today's Jenna Bush Hager last December during a humanitarian trip to Vietnam promoting young women's education.

"We disagree on policy but we don’t disagree on humanity. We don’t disagree about love and compassion. I think that’s true for all of us," Mrs. Obama said.

In late April, Souza, who has been the official White House photographer for both Republican and Democratic presidents, shared an image on Instagram that showcases the special bond presidents traditionally have with one another in their post-political lives.

In the image, five former presidents are gathered and chatting together, including Obama, Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and George H. W. Bush. In the background, Mrs. Obama is chatting with former First Lady Hillary Clinton while their counterparts Barbara Bush and Rosalyn Carter appear in the foreground.

Souza's captioned the striking photo with a single word: "Civility."

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