Posts Tagged ‘Oval Office’

Raiders of the lost arc of history

Saturday, September 4th, 2010

On the Oval Office rug:

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Oval Office rug gets history wrong

President Obama’s new presidential rug seemed beyond reproach, with quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. woven along its curved edge.

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” According media reports, this quote keeping Obama company on his wheat-colored carpet is from King.

Except it’s not a King quote. The words belong to a long-gone Bostonian champion of social progress. His roots in the republic ran so deep that his grandfather commanded the Minutemen at the Battle of Lexington.

For the record, Theodore Parker is your man, President Obama.

Parker said in 1853: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one. . . . But from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”

Please, No More “Arc of History” (h/t Just One Minute)

It’s not the long arc/arch of history that protects and engenders freedom — it is the hard work, wisdom and courage of individuals, of which there has been precious little on display in the Oval Office this past year. Enough with the arc, already.

Then there’s the other quote:
The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally on the welfare of all of us.”

Obama’s rug gets Roosevelt wrong

Over at the Huffington Post, the quote is considered an endorsement of socialism.

But Susan Shelley at America Wants To Know said the quote is taken out of context. Great detective work by a great thinking American.

We know the speech today as the The Square Deal speech. Readers may decide for themselves:

Unfortunately, in this world the innocent frequently find themselves obliged to pay some of the penalty for the misdeeds of the guilty; and so if hard times come, whether they be due to our own fault or to our misfortune, whether they be due to some burst of speculative frenzy that has caused a portion of the business world to lose its head -a loss which no legislation can possibly supply– or whether they be due to any lack of wisdom in a portion of the world of labor — in each case, the trouble once started is felt more or less in every walk of life.

It is all-essential to the continuance of our healthy national life that we should recognize this community of interest among our people. The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us, and therefore in public life that man is the best representative of each of us who seeks to do good to each by doing good to all; in other words, whose endeavor it is not to represent any special class and promote merely that class’s selfish interests, but to represent all true and honest men of all sections and all classes and to work for their interests by working for our common country.

We can keep our government on a sane and healthy basis, we can make and keep our social system what it should be, only on condition of judging each man, not as a member of a class, but on his worth as a man. It is an infamous thing in our American life, and fundamentally treacherous to our institutions, to apply to any man any test save that of his personal worth, or to draw between two sets of men any distinction save the distinction of conduct, the distinction that marks off those who do well and wisely from those who do ill and foolishly. There are good citizens and bad citizens in every class as in every locality, and the attitude of decent people toward great public and social questions should be determined, not by the accidental questions of employment or locality, but by those deep-set principles which represent the innermost souls of men.

The failure in public and in private life thus to treat each man on his own merits, the recognition of this government as being either for the poor as such or for the rich as such, would prove fatal to our Republic, as such failure and such recognition have always proved fatal in the past to other republics. A healthy republican government must rest upon individuals, not upon classes or sections. As soon as it becomes government by a class or by a section, it departs from the old American ideal.

More at Don Surber’s post, who concludes,

It is that last line, “The death-knell of the Republic had rung as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others,” that should be on the rug.

Sadly, TR’s words have proved prophetic.

The entire speech is here.

Odd how a president whose supporters decry quotes as being “out of context” would miss something like this. Far from an endorsement of having El Presidente take over industry upon industry. TR called for self-government, the antithesis of Obamacare

What I want to know, why bother put quotes on beige carpeting anyway?

(h/t Larwyn)

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Limp speech, limp decor UPDATED

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Paul Mirengoff writes about Obama’s limp and boring speech

President Obama’s speech from the oval office, only the second of his presidency, was surprisingly limp. With three momentous subjects to cover – Iraq, Afghanistan, and the U.S. economy – Obama struggled to say anything new or interesting. It isn’t just that the soaring rhetoric of 2008 has disappeared; Obama is now affirmatively boring.

In “turning the page” on Iraq, the Great Speechifier could find no words with which to give meaning to our epic struggle there. Let’s give Obama the benefit of the doubt and assume this is because he thinks the struggle had no meaning, except as it related to domestic politics in the U.S. But then why give a speech about it?

Perhaps the idea was to signal our resolve going forward. The best he could do on this front was to say that after our troops leave at the end of 2011, we’ll still have diplomats, aid workers, and advisors on the scene. But we have diplomats, aid workers, and advisors all over the world; what if Iraq needs more than that, given all of its challenges? If Obama signaled anything in this speech, it was his lack of interest in Iraq’s past (Saddam who?), present, and future.

Incidentally, while I was at the gym this morning, CNN was playing a report on “Iraq’s children”, who “have only known war”. The reporter couldn’t be bothered with researching just what kind of lives those children would have lived under the threat of Saddam’s torture rooms. But I digress.

Despite the fact that Afghanistan has become Obama’s war in a way Iraq never did, the president displayed no great interest in, or true sense of commitment to, that action either. In ten short months, Obama once again pledged, we will begin pulling out of Afghanistan too. These words can only comfort our terrorist enemies and cause sleepless nights for anyone in Afghanistan who has ever supported us.

When it came to the economy, Obama had nothing new to offer. So instead, he provided America with a pep talk, exhorting us to “honor” our troops by “coming together” with a great sense of urgency to “restore our economy.”

Presumably, this means rallying around Obama’s unpopular domestic agenda. In any case, Americans are unlikely to be impressed by a president whose answer to our economic woes sounds something like “hug a soldier and hope that some of his grit rubs off.”

We won’t be deriving any grit from the speech, indeed, which you can read on its entirety here.

Roger Kimball
is even more assertive in his dislike,

I thought it one of the worst speeches in modern memory. Not only was it long on empty boilerplate, it was scrubbed clean of anything memorable or forthright. It also flirted shamelessly with incoherence.

Max Boot, on the other hand, says,

I thought that this speech was about as good as we could expect from an opponent of the Iraq war — and better than Obama has done in the past.

Max’s low expectations were met, for sure.

Jonah Golberg
is offended by Obama’s conflating the troops with his agenda,

what Obama is saying is that not only do we owe it to the troops to rally around his discredited and partisan economic agenda (“It’s our turn”), not only is it a test of our patriotism to sign on with his environmental and industrial planning schemes, but that doing so “must be our central mission as a people.”

The Oval Office had been redecorated for the occasion, and I find it, well, bland and boring (was the speech written to match the decor?). Gone is GWB’s sunburst rug, which I really liked, replaced with…beige, which goes along with the New Depression fad that I mentioned last Friday: Dust Bowl colors for a Dust Bowl mindset.

I’ll leave it to Cassandra and MOTUS to provide insight on the decor, but replacing the sunburst emanating from the Seal of the United States with an ocean of beige is more than just a little symbolic. What do you think?

UPDATE
Suzette wants to know, Yeah. You Tell Me What This Is Made Out Of.

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