美国文化 | 不可思议的友谊?美国总统们如何做朋友


For Some, Bush-Obama Rapport Recalls a Lost Virtue: Political Civility

WASHINGTON —Maybe it was the unexpected warmth of the gesture, the sheer enveloping display of affection.

Maybe it was his response, the beatific expression on his face, eyes almost closed, head tilted toward her shoulder.

Maybe it was the moment: tenderness at a time when presidential politics has become a festival of cruelty.


But when Michelle Obama hugged former President George W. Bush on Saturday, at a ceremony to open the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the image quickly took flight online.
在周六的国立非裔美国人历史与文化博物馆(National Museum of African American History and Culture)开幕式上,米歇尔·奥巴马(Michelle Obama)拥抱前总统乔治·W·布什(George W. Bush)的画面,很快在网上引起热议。

However one chose to interpret it — and overinterpretation is a hazard in such exercises — it became an instant metaphor. Some saw the lost virtue of civility in politics; others, the unlikely friendships that blossom at the rarefied heights of public life. To critics on the left, it was a shameful case of political amnesia by the wife of a president who spent years cleaning up the mess left by his predecessor.

Mrs. Obama and Mr. Bush have had a few such memorable moments. In July in Dallas at a memorial service for five police officers killed by an Army veteran, the two held hands while singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” When Mr. Bush began swaying to the music, Mrs. Obama gamely let him swing her arm back and forth. At one point, as the choir sang “glory, glory hallelujah,” he turned to her in a burst of enthusiasm, causing the first lady to crack up, despite the solemnity of the occasion.
奥巴马夫人和布什有过多个这样难忘的瞬间。7月在达拉斯为五位遭老兵枪杀的警察举行的追悼会上,两人手拉手唱起《共和国战歌》(The Battle Hymn of the Republic)。布什开始随着音乐摇摆,奥巴马夫人大度地让他抓着自己的手臂来回摆动。当唱诗班唱到“赞美,赞美哈利路亚”这一句时,他带着一股突然迸发的热情,转身面向她,令第一夫人在这肃穆的仪式上笑了起来。

In June 2012, when Mr. Bush returned to the White House for the unveiling of his official portrait, he aimed a few wisecracks at President Obama. But he saved his best material for Mrs. Obama, reminding her that when British soldiers set fire to the White House in 1814, another first lady, Dolley Madison, rescued the portrait of the first George W. — as in Washington.
2012年6月回到白宫参加他的官方肖像揭幕仪式时,布什说了几句关于奥巴马总统的俏皮话。但他最好的段子留给了奥巴马夫人。他提醒她,1814年英军放火烧白宫时,当时的第一夫人多莉·麦迪逊(Dolley Madison)把历史上第一个乔治·W总统的肖像抢救了出来。这里指的是乔治·华盛顿。

“Now, Michelle,” he said, gesturing to his own painting, “if anything happens, there’s your man.”

Some of these encounters are explained by proximity. When the Obamas and the Bushes appear in public together, protocol dictates that Mrs. Obama stand next to Mr. Bush. Some of it is a function of the former president’s playful manner, which by all accounts has become more playful in his retirement.

But some of it also has to do with the relationship between the couples, which current and former officials say has deepened over the past seven and a half years, both because of the shared bond of living in the White House and because of Mr. Bush’s decorum as an ex-president.

“President Bush was very gracious to us during the transition, and he has been unfailingly gracious and respectful since,” said David Axelrod, a former adviser to Mr. Obama. He recalled the president telling him that the Bushes “had taught him lessons in how to be a former president.”
“布什总统在过渡期对我们非常慷慨,此后也一直保持着这种宽厚与尊敬,”曾任奥巴马顾问的戴维·阿克塞尔罗德(David Axelrod)说。他记得总统曾经对他说,布什夫妇“在如何当一名前总统方面给他上了几课”。

Mr. Bush has studiously avoided criticizing Mr. Obama or his policies. And Mr. Bush has lent his presence to occasions that meant a lot to the president, like the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Ala., when Mr. Obama delivered what some believe was the finest speech of his presidency, on race relations in the United States. Mrs. Obama sat next to Mr. Bush on that day, too, frequently leaning over to talk or share a laugh with him.

Mrs. Obama’s rapport with Laura Bush is less playful, but Mrs. Obama’s aides say it is no less genuine. In early 2009, Mrs. Bush invited Mrs. Obama to visit the White House with her daughters, Malia and Sasha, for a private tour before her husband’s inauguration. Mrs. Bush’s daughters, Barbara and Jenna, showed the girls their new home, including good hiding places and banisters made for sliding.
奥巴马夫人和劳拉·布什(Laura Bush)在一起时没有表现得那么活泼,但奥巴马夫人的助手们说,两人的融洽关系同样是真挚的。2009年初,在奥巴马就职之前,布什夫人专程邀请奥巴马夫人携女儿马莉娅(Malia)和萨莎(Sasha)到白宫参观,布什夫人的女儿芭芭拉(Barbara)和詹娜(Jenna)带着奥巴马家的两个女孩看了她们的新家,包括理想的躲藏点,以及可以当滑梯的楼梯栏杆。

The two first ladies have appeared together regularly since, including this month at a conference at the National Archives to promote support for families of service members. In 2013, in Tanzania, Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Bush bonded during a conference on education for women and girls.

“I like this woman,” the first lady said of Mrs. Bush.

Mrs. Obama added that “it’s hard to find people who know what you’re going through, who understand the burdens and the fears and the challenges.”

“It’s sort of a club,” Mrs. Bush replied. “A sorority, I guess.”

The fraternity of presidents, is well documented, though some members are closer than others. Bill Clinton and George Bush became famously chummy, with Mr. Bush inviting the man who defeated him to the family compound in Kennebunkport, Me., to “play golf, spend the night” and “hurdle the waves at breakneck speed,” according to the book “The President’s Club,” by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy.
总统们的联谊是有充分记载的,不过有些总统之间格外亲密一些。比尔·克林顿和老布什的友好关系世人皆知,南茜·吉布斯(Nancy Gibbs)和迈克尔·达菲(Michael Duffy)的《总统俱乐部》(The

President’s Club)一书中说,老布什邀请这个击败了他的人去缅因州肯纳邦克波特的家族庄园“打高尔夫,过夜”,还有“在海上乘风破浪”。
Mr. Clinton’s relationship with Mr. Obama took longer to thaw, largely as a consequence of the bitter 2008 primary race between Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton. There were a few golf games, an ice-breaking lunch at an Italian restaurant in Greenwich Village, and, above all, Mr. Clinton’s memorable speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 defending the president’s economic record, after which Mr. Obama took to calling Mr. Clinton his “secretary of explaining stuff.” Now, Mr. Obama is campaigning vigorously for Mrs. Clinton to succeed him, cementing the political alliance between them.

Paradoxically, Mr. Obama’s relationship with the younger Mr. Bush has always seemed less complicated. Though Mr. Obama ran

on his opposition to the war in Iraq — and has never stopped deploring that war — he appears to have an easy rapport with his predecessor. After the ceremony at the museum on Saturday, Mr. Bush was trying to take a photograph of himself with a family, only to find he could not fit everyone in the frame. The solution? He tapped Mr. Obama on the back, handed him the phone, and asked him to take the picture.

As Mr. Obama was wrapping up his speech, he could not resist a gentle poke at his predecessor, who is known for his restlessness, laying odds on the length of his own remarks.

“Enough talk,” Mr. Obama said. “President Bush was timing me. He had the over/under at 25” minutes.

本文刊发于 2016年9月27日

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