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Obama, Bush a lot alike
Question of the Day
Barack Obama paid his first visit as president-elect to the White House on Monday to meet with President Bush, and despite being political polar opposites, the two men have a lot in common — from their habits to their dark suits and blue ties.
As the two most recent inductees into the exclusive commander-in-chief club, the two men — both sports fanatics, famously disciplined and physically fit — will have to embrace their similarities and become friendly, if not friends, to make this transition as smooth as possible.
The men wore wide smiles and seemed to be getting along Monday — the president held the Oval Office door open for his successor, who at least once put his hand on Mr. Bush’s back. They also sported similar pins on their left lapels. And Mr. Obama stayed at least 30 minutes longer than his transition team had scheduled as his top aides greeted White House staffers.
• Click here to view a photo gallery of Obama’s first visit to the White House.
“It’s no doubt that George Bush and Barack Obama discovered in each other that they are authentic, likable and want what’s best for the country,” said Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Clinton who attended Yale University with Mr. Bush. Mr. Davis’ columns appear in The Washington Times.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said the meeting was relaxed and friendly despite the partisan jabs that Mr. Obama took at the president on the campaign trail and vastly different ideologies. She noted that Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush “are now going to be in a very small club.”
They are men who are sticklers for routine.
Mr. Bush, famously in bed by 10 p.m., is always on time and keeps to his habits.
Mr. Obama as president-elect has strayed little from his regular traditions, hitting the gym each day.
He gets his hair cut at the Hyde Park Hair Salon & Barber Shop in Chicago, and snacks on energy bars, nuts and a single flavor of Honest Tea. Photos of him on the weekends are eerily similar: black baseball cap, sunglasses, track pants and a T-shirt. When he hits the gym — sometimes more than once a day — he has a newspaper tucked under his arm and earbuds in his ear.
Mr. Obama rarely drinks alcohol and avoids caffeine. Mr. Bush has been a teetotaler for decades; he has said he abused alcohol.
Both men are avid exercisers and have healthy resting heart rates, though Mr. Bush’s at 45 beats per minute is that of a world-class athlete while Mr. Obama’s at 60 beats per minute is similar to a regular long-distance runner.
In the past year, both have done little dances in front of television cameras — Mr. Bush in the Rose Garden before endorsing Mr. Obama’s Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, and the Democrat on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” — twice.
Their top aides said Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush are able to tune out the political chatter, preferring to flip the channel to ESPN rather than hear pundits sound off with their opinions.
Their style of governing may even be similar, though ideologically opposite.
About the Author
Christina Bellantoni is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times in Washington, D.C., a post she took after covering the 2008 Democratic presidential campaigns. She has been with The Times since 2003, covering state and Congressional politics before moving to national political beat for the 2008 campaign. Bellantoni, a San Jose native, graduated from UC Berkeley with ...
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