Five years later and George W. Bush's White House still sticks together. "We're like family," Tony Fratto, Bush 43's deputy press secretary, gushes between greeting guests Wednesday night at a Washington book party for White House photographer Eric Draper.
When Bush was in the White House, it was Draper who captured all eight years of his presidency -- from those early, simple days at the Crawford ranch, to the terror that was 9/11, to Bush's last day as president. "It was very simple," Draper said of 43's exit. "He called for his coat, he put his coat on, and he walked out without turning back."
For Bushies, all those memories came flooding back with the release of Draper's book, "Front Row Seat," last month. On Wednesday at Edelman's headquarters in downtown D.C., Draper's party attracted part of the gang -- including Laura Bush's chief of staff, Anita McBride, former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and White House counsel Ed Gillespie -- and showcased some of his favorite photos.
One was a profile shot of both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. "Whenever the two presidents were together for me, it was like a magical moment," Draper said. "One of the first things I learned was whenever you say 'Mr. President' they both turn around," Draper recalled.
Another great photo was first lady Laura Bush and President Bush sitting on opposite ends of a very long couch at Buckingham Palace. "And by the way, this isn't representative of the relationship with the president, don't get me trouble, OK?" Draper laughed, explaining that the first couple was merely goofing around because Buckingham Palace was so much bigger than the White House.
But the picture Draper really loved was one he took of the president driving his truck at the ranch in Texas, and tucked away, nearly out of site, was first dog Barney on his lap. "Barney was like a member of the family," Draper noted. "Even around the Oval Office, if Barney was walking outside and looked through the window, the president would stop his meetings and ask someone to let Barney in."