secrets of the white house

President Obama Installs Appropriately Less-Optimistic Rug in the Oval Office

Former president George W. Bush loved telling visitors about the rug in the Oval Office, which he had First Lady Laura design with one instruction: “Make it say ‘optimistic person.’” With golden sunbeams radiating out from the presidential seal, Laura did just that. But in these Dark Times we live in, maybe it’s appropriate to tone things down a bit, as President Obama has done with his redesign of the Oval Office, unveiled to photographers today in time for his prime-time speech on the Iraq withdrawal. Not only have the rays of sunshine been scrubbed from the rug, but the bald eagle at the center of the presidential seal is noticeably thinner from, presumably, his recession-driven austerity.

And yet, balancing out the somber, America-hating new rug is a ring of iconic, hopeful quotations from five American legends.


Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

The quotes:

— “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself” —President Franklin D. Roosevelt

— “The Arc of the Moral Universe Is Long, But It Bends Towards Justice” —Martin Luther King Jr.

— “Government of the People, By the People, For the People” —President Abraham Lincoln

— “No Problem of Human Destiny Is Beyond Human Beings” —President John F. Kennedy

— “The Welfare of Each of Us Is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us” —President Theodore Roosevelt

Yeesh, we don’t know, that last one is dangerously close to being socialist. That it was uttered by a Republican president might give Obama some cover, if the blogs are feeling charitable.

A New Look for the Oval Office [Caucus/NYT]

President Obama Installs Appropriately Less-Optimistic Rug in the Oval Office