The mood? High. “This has been a really special time in their lives,” said Anita McBride, former chief of staff for Laura Bush. The Bushes, she said, are “thrilled” with both of their babies: The new $500 million library, and new grandchild Mila Hager, their first, who arrived just early enough last week that Jenna and Henry may well get to join the extended Bush family for the party. Also on the list: Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Josh Bolten, Andy Card, Michael Chertoff , Alberto Gonzalez, Tom Ridge, Karl Rove and Tony Blair.
Like many old staffers, fomer counselor Ed Gillespie said he’s looking forward to the reunion. “When you work in the White House, you form some strong bonds with people over very long hours, so it’s nice to do some catching up.” Said Emily Lawrimore, a former assistant press secretary: “It’s going to be a packed, exciting day.”
Plus: It’s history. Officially, presidential library dedications are bipartisan, feel-good events. Unofficially, the presence of so many still-controversial administration figures has attracted many critics — but it hasn’t dampened the party.
“The president commands a lot of respect and affection from the people who served him,” Gillespie told us. “I’m not alone in feeling that I’m a better person for serving by his side for 20 months.” People, he said, “have strong feelings on both sides of the divide. President Bush believes, rightly, that history will be kind.”
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