The Obamas' last year in the White House has been one filled with melancholy and wacky TV appearances, and large swaths of the American public clearly cannot handle their impending departure. And the latest interaction, a simple hug between Michelle Obama and George W. Bush, will only make it harder to say goodbye to arguably the coolest First Couple in modern American history.
Captured in a photo, the embrace between the First Lady and the former president at the opening ceremony of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., was a moment of warmth and affection. Juxtaposed against the backdrop of this deeply partisan election year, it seemed particularly rare — and significant.
The image has since gone viral and prompted articles documenting their unlikely friendship. Part of the reason for the overwhelming reaction to the moment is likely due to how deeply divided American society seems today. Per a report from the Pew Research Center:
More than half of Democrats (55%) say the Republican Party makes them "afraid," while 49% of Republicans say the same about the Democratic Party. Among those highly engaged in politics — those who say they vote regularly and either volunteer for or donate to campaigns — fully 70% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans say they are afraid of the other party.
So to see the Mrs. Obama and President Bush express such warm familiarity with each other was not only a human moment between two very powerful people, it perhaps also spoke to the country's deep-seated desire for civility and respect, regardless of political belief.