Michelle Obama Opens Up About Her Viral Moment With George W. Bush

Michelle Obama Today

Michelle Obama has finally explained her viral moment with George W. Bush at John McCain's funeral. During the remembrance, there was a brief moment when the 43rd President of the United States extended his hand and provided Mrs. Obama with a cough drop, which some people saw as a small gesture between former presidential figures, while other people saw as something a little more substantial, perhaps even a reach across the political table during turbulent times.

It was one of those small moments that became bigger than anyone involved ever expected it would be, but it ultimately turned into a viral sensation online, and Michelle Obama explained what happened during this much-discussed political moment at the funeral.

I didn't realize at the time that anyone noticed what we were doing. We were sitting together, you know, President Bush and I, we are forever seatmates because of protocol. That's how we sit at all the official functions. So, he is my partner in crime at every major thing, where all the formals gather. So, we're together all the time, and I love him to death. He is a wonderful man. He is a funny man. And it was a simple gesture.

As former First Lady Michelle Obama notes, it was a moment she didn't expect to be caught on camera. But that hasn't stopped viral moments from happening before, and she doesn't seem upset that this small gesture became a big deal online. Rather, she took the time to explain what happened. She also touched on why she was seated next to George W. Bush, which is apparently a pretty common occurrence during public and formal events.

Michelle Obama explained the moment she received a cough drop from the former United States president, which was talked about relentlessly online, during a recent appearance on Today. She admits that she actually asked George W. Bush for a cough drop, and she explained that they weren't, shall we say, minty fresh. In fact, Bush joked (or, perhaps, didn't) that they were actually from his time in the Oval Office, still collected during all these years. Obama continued:

He was getting a cough drop from Laura [Bush] and I looked over, and I said, 'Hand me a cough drop.' And he was like, 'Oh, okay.' And, I will add that they were old cough drops. That's the funny thing because they were in the little White House box, the Altoids. And I was like, 'How long have you had these?!' He said, 'A long time. We have a lot of these.'

While it was a simple gesture, as Michelle Obama noted earlier, it was seen as a bipartisan effort, and Michelle Obama is ultimately aware of that. She stated:

That's why it mattered so much, because people that's what people are hungry for. They're hungry for what we all know -- that party doesn't separate us. Color, gender -- those kind of things doesn't separate us. It's the messages that we send. And if we're the adults and the leaders in the room and we're not showing that level of decency, we cannot expect our children to do the same. So, that's what I think about. When I think about the gestures and the symbols, what our words mean and the impact that it has. I think about the next generation. Every single time.

Meanwhile, George W. Bush was recently in the news when one of his daughters, Barbara Bush, got married in a private, secretive wedding in Maine.

Will Ashton

Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.