Presidential historian Craig Shirley told Newsmax on Wednesday that the presidential portrait unveiling, which took place at the White House on Wednesday, is "one of the few bipartisan ceremonies" left in Washington, D.C.
Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama visited the White House on Wednesday for the unveiling of their official portraits after a delay, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and partly, according to press reports, because former President Donald Trump refused to invite the Obamas back to the White House and broke with the tradition of unveiling his predecessor's portrait.
Shirley said on "American Agenda" that the portrait unveiling is "one of the few bipartisan ceremonies or events that actually happens anymore in Washington, very few of these events actually take place."
He also noted that "this is a fairly recent phenomenon ... of the current president introducing the portrait of the former president; it only goes back ... the last 20 or 30 years. I can assure you, [Dwight] Eisenhower, who despised Harry Truman, did not invite Truman for the unveiling of the Truman portrait."
Shirley said that each of the presidential portraits has "a little bit of history assigned to them, and that ... makes it fun."
He also said that the Obamas saw their portraits before their unveiling, saying, "They wouldn't allow them to be seen unless they had already seen them and approved of them."
Shirley said that Obama's portrait has a "bright white background," which has "never been done before," but noted that "all presidential portraits are unique in their own way."
He noted that many presidential portraits have had delayed unveilings and said, "There's no plan; it doesn't follow a distinct pattern" and is "the prerogative of the occupant of the Oval Office and of the man who he succeeded and when he gets around to getting his portrait taken."
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