The friendship between former President George W. Bush and former first lady Michelle Obama seems like an anomaly in an increasingly partisan political sphere.

George W Bush and Michelle Obama

Former President George W. Bush (left) and former First Lady Michelle Obama (right). (AP Photos/LM Otero and Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

But Bush, this week, told People Magazine that, as unlikely as the pairing may seem, the two have struck up a genuine friendship.

“She kind of likes my sense of humor,” Bush said in an interview with the magazine. “Anybody who likes my sense of humor, I immediately like.”

The former president is promoting his first art book and an accompanying new exhibit, Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors, a collection of his paintings of post-9/11 war veterans.

Many recall the hug between the then-first lady and the former president during the dedication ceremonies for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in September. The seemingly genuine cuddle between the smiling pair quickly went viral.

“When I saw her, it was a genuine expression of affection,” Bush said of that moment.

And there were many other similar events where the pair was often seated together, he added.

“I can’t remember where else I’ve sat next to her, but I probably have a few wisecracks and she seemed to like it okay,” says Bush. “I needle her a little bit and around her, I’m fairly lighthearted. are around serious people all the time and we just took to each other.”

It helped that Obama chose to champion a cause close to the former president’s heart—that of the welfare of the nation’s military and their families. Bush said he and his wife, Laura, would be happy to continue to collaborate on the issue with the Obamas, Bush said.

“It’s going to take them a while to find their footing and figure out how they’re going to do what they want to do,” he said. “But if there’s a way to be symbiotic, we’ll do so.”

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO