Such Gup

Such Gup

Elephant not in the room

This piece from the Guardian was too good to be missed, printed with a picture of former Presidents George Bush Sr, George W Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and their wives, along with Melania Trump, all smiling broadly, at the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush.

“Consider him the elephant not in the room, simultaneously absent from this picture and looming over it. Donald Trump did not attend Saturday’s funeral of (former first lady) Barbara Bush in Houston, Texas … Which might explain the unstated emotion that seems to join everyone in this picture. 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. 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 dueling 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 (including Melania) that Trump is not there?