Question of the Day: Oval Office Make Over

31oval-custom10 Maureen Dowd disapproved of the Oval Office makeover.

I'm happy with the beige, but the room looks to informal for the Oval Office. I would like those sofas in my living room, but they don't look very stately, do they? I just can't imagine the Joint Chiefs of Staff using the throw cushions to support their back as they discuss the latest causality numbers in Afghanistan. All this room needs is a wii remote, and it would be my house.

Question of the Day: What do you think of the Oval Office.

40 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Oval Office Make Over

  1. The Joint Chiefs probably meet him in the Cabinet Room, behind the door that’s visible on the left. Or possibly the Situation Room, which is down the hall and downstairs a bit, but not nearly as big as Hollywood would have you believe.
    Anyway, I like it.

  2. I like the striped wall paper and I’m warming up to the beige (which is more tolerable with all the white wainscoting and moldings), but the sofas are way too Rooms-to-Go. I would prefer medium brown traditional leather sofas.

  3. It’s too beige and plain for me — actually it looks a lot like the hotel room I’m sitting in right now.
    But then, my preferred styles — stark modern/white/black/red or chinese/asian reds probably wouldn’t do all that well in the Oval office.
    (Laura, do you have a big eagle in your family room?)

  4. “Leather is even worse for drool, but very good for napping if you hide a regular pillow in a cabinet or something.”
    Really? I have a light beige leather sofa in our living room and grey leather seats in our car and I find them wonderfully kid and me-proof. Only the direst poverty would bring me to go back to fabric (although the home magazines make white slip covers look really good).

  5. The leather cleans easily, but the drool will pool and get all over your cheek without something between you and the leather. If you’ve been eating candy, you can get stuck to the seat.

  6. Really? This is an actual subject for Maureen Dowd? Huh.
    I think it looks fine. It’s the oval office. I’m just not capable of seeing it as anything but formal.
    (I wonder how much we’re all subconsciously measuring it these days by how it looked on The West Wing.)

  7. The West Wing, yeah.
    The whole point of the oval office is to be intimidating, to help the person behind the desk be dominant. I don’t think this make-over aids that goal.

  8. “The whole point of the oval office is to be intimidating, to help the person behind the desk be dominant.”
    Now that you mention it, that’s right. Although if you reserve the squishy sofa for your opponent while taking a nice firm chair for yourself(gaining several inches in the process), that works too. (I think I’ve heard of squishy furniture being deployed offensively in real life diplomacy.)

  9. I think I’ve heard of squishy furniture being deployed offensively…
    That’s why it is illegal to have a couch on the porch in Pittsburgh.

  10. I will never go back to anything *but* white slip covers, at least until the kids are out of the house. Five people in the house, and only my daughter is anything remotely approaching tidy. Bleach it, baby!

  11. Well, let’s see, this month Obama eliminated my husband’s job at JFCOM, but he got himself some snazzy new furniture and sent his family to Europe on vacation. If he cared about the working poeple of America, he would spend the money on jobs. I understand Marie Antoinette liked furniture too.

  12. Sklab, I am stunned at how tone deaf the guy is. Yes, swell redecorating when unemployment is on its way up is a way to anger the electorate. When the missus went to Spain I read the sobriquet “Michelle Antoinette”. The Rahm Emanuel line, ‘never waste a good crisis’ makes the Administration’s every action suspect as being in service of its long-term agenda, rather than to solve the current situation. I am inclined to compare the guy to Carter, but I don’t remember anything quite this off-putting from Carter.

  13. Gaaak!!! The coffee-table looks like it came from Sam’s Club. And those cheap-looking corduroy sofas–in the Oval office! A total Motel 6 look. All it needs is the Magic Fingers. Billy Carter had better taste..
    And to top it off, for those who don’t know, he got the quote around the Presidential Seal in the carpet wrong. Some *brilliant* scholar from Harvard!

  14. “he got himself some snazzy new furniture”
    That Obama sure is uppity, isn’t he?
    I can’t imagine who started making a big deal of this. Drudge? Oh right, well he has never been known to push a partisan line. I’m sure it’s all just fine and dandy.
    sklab, dave s., virgil, Stephen, I’m looking forward to reading your collected posts from 2002 decrying the money that Bush spent on redecorating the Oval Office. What, there aren’t any? Imagine that.

  15. Doug, it’s perfectly okay for you to bang on me, but it’s better if you are accurate: I criticized the guy for political tone-deafness and for doing this in the face of wholly predictable reaction coming, not so much for the expenditure itself. I put out the idea that the O is Jimmy Carter redux. Here is someone who disagrees with me and thinks he’s Herbert Hoover! http://www.forbes.com/2010/09/02/barack-obama-billionaires-media-opinions-columnists-trevor-butterworth.html?boxes=opinionschannellatest

  16. Another practical issue is that the age of beige is just about over now, which means that the next re-do will probably be very soon (I suggest getting it out of the way fast, rather than waiting until just before the midterm elections during 9.5% unemployment).
    Massive beige doesn’t really register as “cool!” anymore, it’s more like, yup, I’ve seen that in magazines and houses for sale for years now, along with the stainless steel fridges and granite countertops. Next!

  17. Let me get this straight. Anybody who disagrees with the expenditure is a racist and think’s Obama’s “uppity”? In other words, no one should EVER criticize a Black president — because only a racist would ever criticize a black president? Oh, God forbid, anyone commit a thought crime? 1984, anyone?

  18. “In other words, no one should EVER criticize a Black president — because only a racist would ever criticize a black president?”
    Oops. I’m a racist then. In fact, I voted for Clinton in the primary, so I’m definitely a racist.
    In other words, it’s tone-deafness like yours that feeds the Tea Party movement. I personally believe I can and will criticize anyone I damned well please, and if you want to get me started on Obama and his views on education and charter schools, you’ll get to hear lots of “racist” talk from me.
    The differences are these:
    1. I don’t* evoke stereotypes and prejudices in my criticisms, such as criticizing any black person for spending a lot of money and trying to act above his or her station in life.
    And
    2. I try not to be racist. See my asterisk–I can’t say I never do, but I try not to evoke stereotypes and don’t mind being called out if I do, because my *goal* is to be less racist. There seem to be a whole bunch of people who screech about being called racist but don’t really care whether they are or not. They just want NOT to be called racists so long as they’re refraining from lynching blacks and saying the n-word.
    In an ideal world, someone who had a problem with Obama’s spending money on redecorating would examine the principle of whether presidents should redecorate the Oval Office. Did you object when Bush redecorated the Oval Office? When Clinton did? When Bush Sr. and Reagan did? Or is it only something you criticize when Obama does it? If it is, then you may have to examine why you have an issue with his redecorating the office, and you really should be prepared to come to the conclusion it’s because he’s black. Because that’s what a lot of people around you are doing.

  19. “Did you object when Bush redecorated the Oval Office? When Clinton did? When Bush Sr. and Reagan did? Or is it only something you criticize when Obama does it?”
    In none of those cases was there 9.5% unemployment.

  20. “seems pointless.” Anyway, mocking couches is fun, otherwise I’d have nothing to do at parties except drink. But basically, you should be allowed to redo your office.

  21. Amy P, you’re right — the unemployment rate during the Reagan-era recession peaked at 10.8 percent in December 1982.
    1982 was the same year that Reagan not only redecorated his office, but also replaced the worn-out flooring underneath the carpet. Nancy Reagan undertook a lot of structural repairs throughout the house, something that I think hadn’t been done since Jackie Kennedy.
    Does anyone know what percentage of this stuff comes out of the presidential salary, and from private donations? I thought it was almost entirely NOT the taxpayers’ burden.

  22. but also replaced the worn-out flooring underneath the carpet.
    Al Haig walked the halls continually reminding everybody that he was he was next in the line of succession after the president pro tempore of the Senate.

  23. “Amy P, you’re right — the unemployment rate during the Reagan-era recession peaked at 10.8 percent in December 1982.”
    I should have looked that one up (I was depending on all of those reports about worse this or that since the Great Depression). On the other hand, who knows what lies ahead? California has had 12.5% unemployment this year, with unemployment over 20% in 8 counties.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/mar/11/business/la-fi-cal-jobs11-2010mar11
    Nancy Reagan caught heck for getting new White House china (as just about all administrations have done–although you never heard that at the time), and she also got into trouble for borrowing designer dresses, Hollywood-style. This site has some pictures of the White House china collection, which is spectacular:
    http://www.whitehousemuseum.org/furnishings/china.htm
    I rather like the multiplicity of White House china sets, ceramics being one of my weaknesses. Also, they give one a feel for the presidential eras. Anyway, the White House is supposed to be fancy.

  24. “Does anyone know what percentage of this stuff comes out of the presidential salary, and from private donations? I thought it was almost entirely NOT the taxpayers’ burden.”
    Each incoming administration has a budget of $100K for the residence; the Obamas have not made use of that and paid for renovations out of their own pocket. I presume (but did not find a cite) that there is a budget line for redoing the Oval Office. It’s peanuts, in the scheme of things. (And the people who complain about the re-doings are the ones who will mock you for turning down the heat and wearing a cardigan, so you might as well do what you want.) There was a private foundation of some sort that gave GWB new china shortly before his departure, $47K or thereabouts. I don’t think the Obamas have taken anything like that.
    On the larger points, what Wendy said.

  25. There was a private foundation of some sort that gave GWB new china shortly before his departure, $47K or thereabouts.
    The latest presidents have not directly purchased their own dishes. Only Nixon could go to buy china.

  26. Good response, Wendy.
    Steering away from the controversy… When Ford redid the Oval office, they had to remove so many bugs that they practically had to pull down the walls.

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