Who says bipartisanship was completely absent from the historic vote March 21 on American access to medical care?
Certainly not the White House, which released an official photograph of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and about 40 staffers who assembled to applaud the late-night passage of the bill. Shot by White House photographer Pete Souza, the picture ran on the front pages of newspapers and websites Monday morning, including The Times and latimes.com. And it's a picture that inserts Obama squarely into the middle of healthcare reform's bipartisan history.
The staffers met in the West Wing's windowless Roosevelt Room, across from the Oval Office. Souza shows the president standing in the foreground, flanked by painted portraits of two venerable if failed predecessors in the fight for federal healthcare legislation. One is Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt, seated at a desk on the left. The other is Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, FDR's fifth cousin, mounted on horseback at the right.
The Teddy portrait -- painted by Tadé Styka (1889-1954), a Polish immigrant from a family of society artists (and buried in Glendale's Forest Lawn Cemetery) -- shows the president in Rough Rider guise. Roosevelt tried to move the Republican Party in a progressive direction and, failing that, started the Bull Moose Party to run again for the presidency. He advocated national healthcare in his 1912 platform.