Ex-White Home staffers reveal Bush and Obama’s finest jokes


They have been the leaders of the free world, however presidents George W. and Barack Obama didn’t let that duty get in the way in which of slightly enjoyable.

Within the new guide “Treating Folks Properly: The Extraordinary Energy of Civility at Work and in Life” (Scribner) former White Home social secretaries Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard what it was prefer to work for his or her respective first households. Though they served in two very completely different administrations — Berman, a conservative, labored for the Bushes whereas Bernard, the primary male social secretary in American historical past, was appointed by the liberal Obamas — they share how each have been socially savvy and added levity to an in any other case high-pressure work setting.

In keeping with Berman, Bush “understood the ability of a very good chortle.” In actual fact, he was such a very good sport about his bumbling media persona that he referenced it steadily and allowed his workers to do the identical; a daily gathering of prime officers was renamed “The Strategery Assembly” after Will Ferrell used that phrase in his Bush impression on “Saturday Evening Dwell.” Apparently, the president embraced his “Bushisms” to such an extent that “phrases resembling misunderestimate and ‘I’m the decider’ turned a part of the West Wing lexicon.” In her view, Bush embraced his frequent verbal missteps as a solution to present his workers that criticism didn’t stick.

That’s not the one time Berman noticed the president use self-deprecating humor to diffuse an uncomfortable state of affairs. As soon as, when Bush overheard Berman’s 14-year-old daughter nervously admit she was failing high-school algebra, he rushed to her protection: “You shouldn’t fear about it,” he stated. “I didn’t do very nicely at school both, and issues turned out all proper for me.”

Lea Berman joins Laura Bush at a White Home vacation occasion.ASSOCIATED PRESS

Whereas Bush made a observe of constructing enjoyable of himself, the Obamas have been recognized to good-naturedly tease their workers. For Bernard’s first day on the White Home, he wore an orange Hermès tie that he second-guessed all morning as staffer after staffer commented on it. Then, he arrived in Michelle Obama’s workplace to greet his new boss. “Oh, my . . . your tie!” she exclaimed earlier than bursting into laughter and getting into for a hug. As the primary girl admitted, she’d been tipped off that the tie had turn into a spirited level of debate between Bernard and his new colleagues.

Bernard was not solely the primary male social secretary — he was the primary overtly homosexual one, too. He joined the Obama administration in 2011 and two years later, after the president was reelected, Bernard felt a hand on his shoulder on the post-inaugural ball. “I don’t wish to be impolite,” Obama stated, “however I gotta say . . . for a homosexual man you actually are a nasty dancer.” They each chuckled and for the remainder of his time on the White Home, Bernard’s questionable strikes on the dance flooring turned a working joke between the 2 males. Bernard reveals that he and the president even had a “Jeremy Dance,” which they carried out collectively at vacation galas after the friends had left. In 2015, when Bernard left the White Home, the pair did one final rendition, which was famously caught on digital camera.

However earlier than he exited the administration, it’s clear that Bernard may give nearly as good as he obtained. One afternoon, when the primary girl was scheduled to do a taping with Jimmy Fallon, Bernard was tasked with displaying the late-night host across the White Home. After they arrived on the Diplomatic Reception Room, Bernard says Fallon took within the modest unfold — largely bottled water and apples — and joked he was lower than impressed. Bernard was fast together with his retort: “We do some higher for Leno when he’s right here.”

Bernard may need realized a factor or two from his predecessor, former Obama social secretary Julianna Smoot. Someday throughout her tenure, Jay-Z and Beyoncé confirmed up for a state dinner, the place Beyoncé was set to carry out afterwards. Chatting with the couple, Smoot may inform that the famous person singer was nervous. Then, Mexican magnate Carlos Slim walked by — on the time, the richest man on this planet. “There goes somebody even richer than you two,” Smoot stated, directly making her friends chortle and clearing the air.

Social secretaries are answerable for reserving musical acts, and it was on this capability that Lea Berman ultimately noticed the brink of her boss’ affability. Through the warfare in Iraq, Bush requested a go to from a preferred nation singer. However when Berman known as to guide the star, his supervisor stated an emphatic, “Hell no.” Apparently, the star objected to the warfare and needed nothing to do with the president.

When Berman delivered the information to Bush, she says he was visibly upset. Even the thick-skinned president had a sore spot. Berman vowed that subsequent time, she could be extra delicate. On the subject of treating individuals nicely, blunt honesty isn’t at all times the very best coverage.



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