The hashtag #bowtiegate started on Thursday, when the supercut video surfaced of former President Barack Obama flexing his presidently arm muscles and encouraging staff in the White House mess to make fists while belting out the word “Bowling Green.”
In that now infamous song, Glen Campbell sang, “I’m a little bit country, a little bit rock, a little bit k.I.A. I’m ready for my close-up and my belt.” Obama used the phrase “bowtiegate” to describe the authenticity of the viral video he’d made in the White House, and the internet took him seriously.
So when Obama, who in his free time is bringing smiles to sick kids in a school on Capitol Hill, stepped out on Friday with National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins in tow, no one was surprised if he had still brought his signature smile to some kids at the Congress Academy’s Immunizing the Future Wellness center.
Standing a couple of feet from where Congressional leaders allow staffer to practice with surgical implements before kids go home to their school without them — cutting them from the vaccine pool is already illegal for members of Congress — Obama had a sit-down with between two kids with flu in hopes of spreading the word.
“I just wanted to apologize for the Bowtiegate thing,” Obama joked. “No, you should do that. You should listen to all the kids who are saying it’s cool. So I thought that was a pretty good idea.”
Obama and Collins discussed childhood vaccines — an issue he pushes as the former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The NIH director was surrounded by kids, parents and staffers. They played a game of “Green Eggs and Ham” that included potato crisps, snack sausage rolls, macaroni and cheese, turkey and sausage sandwiches, peppers and lemons. Obama and Collins also engaged in kid-friendly conversations.
Asked whether Obama might look at the presidential residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue from time to time, the NIH chief had some thoughts on the topic.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “I wouldn’t like to see that going on, sitting on the fourth floor, right? And what would he do on the west lawn, you know? With his bow ties and all?”