President Obama awarded former President Bill Clinton -- and other titans of their professions -- the Medal of Freedom at the White House on Wednesday, a high-profile backslapping just days after his Democratic predecessor urged the White House to make changes to Obamacare.
“I'm grateful, Bill, for your advice and counsel that you have offered me on and off the golf course,” Obama insisted Wednesday, even as White House officials privately grumbled about recent unsolicited advice from the 43rd president.
Obama's so-called "explainer-in-chief" Clinton last week said the president should fulfill his promise that all Americans could keep their health plans under Obamacare, even if meant changing the framework legislatively.
“I personally believe — even if it takes a change in the law — the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got,” Clinton told the online magazine OZY.
Just two days later, the White House announced that insurers could renew cancelled coverage plans through 2014. However, insurance companies are not required to comply with the request.
Even Democrats are calling for a legislative fix to Obama’s broken promise.
Despite their public admiration for one other, the two Democratic presidents have a famously-strained relationship.
Clinton once called Obama's opposition to the Iraq War, a centerpiece of his 2008 presidential candidacy, a “fairy tale,” while campaigning for his wife, Hillary Clinton, during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. And the former Arkansas governor received a scolding from Obama surrogates last year when he praised the business credentials of 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
According to the new book “Double Down,” Obama once quipped he could only handle his Democratic predecessor in “small doses.”
Such tensions were not on display Wednesday, however.
Obama said that Clinton proved during his two presidential terms that “with the right choices, you could grow the economy, lift people out of poverty.”
“As we’ve all seen, as president, he was just getting started,” Obama then added, highlighting Clinton’s post-White House charitable works. “He doesn’t stop.”
The Obama-Clinton love didn’t stop there. Obama also had kind words for Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
“I'm most grateful for [Bill Clinton's] patience during the endless travels of my secretary of state,” Obama quipped.
The Obamas and Clintons will also pay tribute to former President John F. Kennedy at his grave site at Arlington National Cemetery later Wednesday.
In addition to Clinton, television icon Oprah Winfrey, perennial baseball All-Star Ernie Banks, country music legend Loretta Lynn, former Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and the late astronaut Sally Ride also received the presidential medal.