Why are the Bushes, Clintons, Obamas and Melania smiling so broadly at a funeral?


The Bush family with the Clintons, Obamas and Melania Trump at Barbara Bush’s funeral. Photograph: Paul Morse/AP


It’s an unusual group photo: they’re not family, they’re not friends, and they’re not a team. Rather, the official connection between them is that they have all lived in the country’s most important residence, whether as president or first lady – or in Hillary Clinton’s case, having attempted the double. They are there to honour the missing member of this exclusive club, the woman whose death has brought them to this moment. (The only living members missing are Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who were travelling.)

The warmth between them – Republican George W Bush with arms around both his wife and Democrat Hillary – is the camaraderie you often see between one-time partisan rivals now bonded by having shared a rare and extraordinary experience. (You see something similar in those pictures of duelling heavyweight boxers reunited in retirement.) But there’s something else too.
The picture is not sombre, even though this is a funeral. Obama and Bill Clinton are smiling broadly; W has that lopsided grin that suggests he’s cracked one of his fratboy jokes. They seem relaxed. And the source of that relaxation? Could it possibly be their collective relief that Trump is not there? That, surely, is the one thing this group can agree on.

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