George W. Bush Made Obama Laugh On Stage & Twitter Can’t Even Handle It
All five former U.S. presidents took the stage for a hurricane relief fundraiser in Texas on Sunday, and as Bill Clinton was giving an impassioned appeal for help, George W. Bush cracked a joke to Barack Obama. The 44th president immediately burst into a smile, then attempted to regain his composure as Bush, smirking, glanced back at Obama repeatedly to see his reaction. Footage of the interaction immediately captured the Internet's heart, as it bore a striking resemblance to two kids in school making jokes behind the teacher's back.
Unfortunately, the mic didn't pick up any of what Bush said, so the nature of the joke is a mystery (for now). But that doesn't really matter, as it was the context of the interaction that made it so amusing. Here was the 42nd president of the United States giving a serious speech while two of his successors, standing right behind him, quietly make jokes and try to hold back their laughter.
It was a humanizing moment for Bush or Obama, given that almost all of us have likely had the experience of joking around to a friend when, all things considered, it wasn't really the most appropriate time to be making jokes.
Twitter quickly noticed and fell in love with the moment.
"Me In Middle School"
W cracking a joke to Obama while Clinton gives a speech is me in middle school pic.twitter.com/Sw6uQwXRcf— Justin Taylor (@TheSmarmyBum) October 22, 2017
Slash elementary school, high school and college.
"Country Over Party"
I LOVE seeing Bush and Obama joke together. They warm my scared heart! This is how Dems and Repubs should interact. Country OVER party!!!— Joanna Wishner (@jwishner) October 23, 2017
Despite being back-to-back presidents from different parties, Bush and Clinton are close friends in real life (so much so that Bush once called Clinton his "brother from another mother"), and Bush has spoken at length about his fondness for Michelle Obama's sense of humor. Her husband apparently has that sense of humor too, as he seemed mighty amused by whatever Bush said on stage Sunday.
"A Dad Move"
Bush pulling a dad move, cracking a joke to Obama during Clinton's speech, and glancing repeatedly to see his reaction. pic.twitter.com/Y3dLIkQUAn— Classic Dad Moves (@ClassicDadMoves) October 22, 2017
The fact that Bush kept looking at Obama to see his reaction is one of the most endearing parts of the video. Rarely does a former president look so mischievous.
"Never In A Million Years"
I never, in a million years, thought I would miss George W Bush... https://t.co/QHGU35wFzy— Reddish Beard (@skip_pee) October 23, 2017
Even some of Bush's detractors found the moment, if not quite exonerating, at least a little bit heartening.
"Making The Cool Kid Laugh"
Look how pleased W is with himself for making the cool kid laugh— Robyn (@flutter_rob) October 23, 2017
One could argue that both W and Obama are the "cool kids," as each of them have seen their favorability ratings skyrocket since Donald Trump took office. As of June, Bush and Obama are viewed favorably by 59 and 63 percent of Americans, respectively. Trump had a favorability rating of just 40 percent at that time, and it's fallen precipitously since.
Did Clinton Want In On The Fun?
Did anyone else notice even Clinton wanted to join in on the laughing, as he holds back his own.— D (@thesassafrascpt) October 23, 2017
Although it's hard to say for certain, it sure looks as if Clinton himself, while speaking, suppresses a grin while his two successors are yucking it up behind him. Did he hear the joke, too?!
And What Was The Joke?
Was it a Clinton joke or Trump joke? Barack Obama couldn't stop laughing after George W. Bush whispered in his ear https://t.co/GYO77Xqveu— DSpec (@DSpec_1) October 23, 2017
We'll probably never know. It could have been a Jimmy Carter joke for all we know.
One likely reason the shared moment between Bush and Obama resonated so much is that the two former presidents, along with their three successors, now serve as reminders of a simpler time in American politics. A time when Trump hadn't yet scrambled everything we thought we knew about politics, American government and presidents. A time when members of opposing parties, despite their differing views on policy, could at least remain friendly on a personal level.
The Sunday fundraiser was the first time since 2013 that Bush, Clinton, Obama, Carter and George H.W. Bush all appeared together in public. It was part of a larger campaign that the former presidents launched in September to raise money for victims of Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria. So far, they've pulled in $31 million, according to the Chicago Tribune, and it wouldn't be surprising if Sunday's viral moment, by drawing attention to the effort, helped them bring in a little bit more.