Obamateurism of the Day

posted at 8:05 am on September 1, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Some have suggested that the modest remodel of the Oval Office should be considered an Obamateurism during a tough recession, but that’s unfair. Presidents have the specific perk of choosing their own decor, as do many executives in the private sector — and since the Oval Office reflects the personality of each Chief Executive, a new rug and reupholstering the furniture after eight years hardly qualifies as an outrage. The new rug also has a new feature, promoted by the White House to the media, of inspirational quotes on its circumference from great Americans like Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. At least we hope they are, because the President still hasn’t figured out the correct origin of one of the quotes included in that carpet:

The quotes — described as being “of meaning” to and selected by President Obama — are:

“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

Martin Luther King did say what the White House attributes to him, but it wasn’t original to King, and King never claimed it was.  King quoted 19th-century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, who wrote it in 1853.  As I noted in June 2009, Reverend Matt Tittle tried to inform the Obama campaign in April 2008 that they had misattributed the quote, but they never acknowledged his queries.

It’s one thing to misattribute a quote in a speech, and a little worse to ignore people who attempt to correct the mistake.  It’s another thing entirely to have the misattribution written into the carpet of the Oval Office, and to have the White House continue to issue misinformation and shortchange the original author of the phrase.

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at obamaisms@edmorrissey.com with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!


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Truth isn’t really very important to this administration.

JimK on September 1, 2010 at 8:10 AM

I surprised that BHO doesn’t have one of his own quotes on the rug. No, I’m not being snarky. I really am surprised…

joejm65 on September 1, 2010 at 8:11 AM

I AM surprised. Ugh, need more coffee…

joejm65 on September 1, 2010 at 8:12 AM

joejm65 on September 1, 2010 at 8:11 AM

Such as “I won”?

ladyingray on September 1, 2010 at 8:14 AM

Solid B+! After all, it’s the effect and not the accuracy… because he’s the smartest president, evah.

ExpressoBold on September 1, 2010 at 8:15 AM

I surprised that BHO doesn’t have one of his own quotes on the rug. No, I’m not being snarky. I really am surprised…

joejm65 on September 1, 2010 at 8:11 AM

Well this is about the only original quote that can be attributed to him and it wouldn’t look all that good on a rug.

“Er, Uhh, let me be clear, I, Uhh, ummm, er, inherited this mess.”

Oldnuke on September 1, 2010 at 8:17 AM

I surprised that BHO doesn’t have one of his own quotes on the rug. No, I’m not being snarky. I really am surprised…

joejm65 on September 1, 2010 at 8:11 AM

That would be par for the course. :D

Kafir on September 1, 2010 at 8:17 AM

It’s not like the quotes are attributed-attributed…

myrenovations on September 1, 2010 at 8:18 AM

Perhaps the man is being careful and taking a lesson from Billy-Bob Clinton and doesn’t wish to be remembered for quotes like: “…meaning of IS – is….”

But, then again, maybe that’s too much credit when little is due.
This guy sees himself as the sun in our solar system.

TimBuk3 on September 1, 2010 at 8:19 AM

Kneel before Zod! (I bet that’s what he’s thinking)

50sGuy on September 1, 2010 at 8:20 AM

What, no Winston Churchill paintings?????

Rovin on September 1, 2010 at 8:20 AM

It’s way past the time for those college transcripts to get unsealed. Albert Einstein he is not!

30 pcs of silver on September 1, 2010 at 8:21 AM

Presidents have the specific perk of choosing their own decor

He should’ve had it done a year & a half ago. Now he’ll only get to enjoy it for 2 1/2 years, at most.

itsnotaboutme on September 1, 2010 at 8:22 AM

What I find interesting is that the last quote,

“The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us” – President Theodore Roosevelt

is very similar to Obama’s repeated exhortations that our “individual salvation is dependent on our collective salvation.” He’s brought this up at several commencement ceremonies. Now it’s going to be enshrined in the carpet of the Oval Office. Glenn Beck has hammered Obama numerous times over this issue.

lordsquirrel on September 1, 2010 at 8:22 AM

Considering the rumors that have been bandied about, Øbama should avoid any talk of new rugs in the Oval Office.

Kafir on September 1, 2010 at 8:23 AM

Oval Office remodel: Interior design by Snookie.

petefrt on September 1, 2010 at 8:23 AM

It’s way past the time for those college transcripts to get unsealed. Albert Einstein he is not!

30 pcs of silver on September 1, 2010 at 8:21 AM

I have an ongoing debate with a friend. He maintains that Obama is intelligent, but bumbling. I say that he’s dumb as a hammer, but cunning. My friend has argued with less certainty in recent days.

Oldnuke on September 1, 2010 at 8:24 AM

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

I would imagine that this quote is directly behind his desk, that way no only does he get to run over it with his actions he can now literally run over it with his chair.

milwife88 on September 1, 2010 at 8:24 AM

DOJ must be miffed. All they got to do was change the look of their website and put a new quote up -one whose authorship is debated between 2 very different people according to an article in the Spectator and at American Thinker.

journeyintothewhirlwind on September 1, 2010 at 8:25 AM

I can’t wait ’til these folks are in charge of everyone’s medical records!

zmdavid on September 1, 2010 at 8:27 AM

Just one more thing that has to be repealed by the next administration.

Electrongod on September 1, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Who was the decorator? Motel lobbies “R” us?

katy the mean old lady on September 1, 2010 at 8:32 AM

Here’s the Spectator article on the quote the DOJ uses on their website:

http://spectator.org/archives/2010/07/16/with-liberty-and-global-justic

And on the quotes Obama uses above- I am not sure the moral universe is bending toward justice when we have our State Dept putting AZ law under the purview of the UN Human Rights Council when many of the countries on that council don’t respect human rights at all.

journeyintothewhirlwind on September 1, 2010 at 8:39 AM

What is a “touch recession”?

Mr_Magoo on September 1, 2010 at 8:40 AM

What..none of these other famous quotes;

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

“The Constitution of the United States was created by the people of the United States composing the respective states, who alone had the right .” – James Madison

“I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying.” – Barack Obama

Electrongod on September 1, 2010 at 8:40 AM

I

t’s one thing to misattribute a quote in a speech, and a little worse to ignore people who attempt to correct the mistake. It’s another thing entirely to have the misattribution written into the carpet of the Oval Office, and to have the White House continue to issue misinformation and shortchange the original author of the phrase.

Narrative.

roy_batty on September 1, 2010 at 8:42 AM

I’m surprised he didn’t have a road paved in gold leading to his desk with the quote, “Follow the yellow brick road” and a big bowl of shrimp and waffles at the end…

Mr_Magoo on September 1, 2010 at 8:42 AM

I haven’t seen a picture of the rug so I’ve managed not to get my blood pressure elevated over THAT. The Middle Eastern drapes in potentate gold already have me seething.

texabama on September 1, 2010 at 8:43 AM

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!”

That didn’t make the cut?

Mr_Magoo on September 1, 2010 at 8:44 AM

“We finally got our piece of the pie!”

Didn’t make the cut?

Mr_Magoo on September 1, 2010 at 8:45 AM

“The American people will never again be asked to foot the bill for Wall Street’s mistakes. There will be no more taxpayer-funded bailouts. Period.”

That’s the quote I want to see on the rug!

Mr_Magoo on September 1, 2010 at 8:48 AM

“The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us” – President Theodore Roosevelt

A more false statement has never been uttered.

What was wrong with the Fascist FDR … Interesting that is one of the quotes, social justice, equal out come. In other words, communism.

tarpon on September 1, 2010 at 8:48 AM

I haven’t seen a picture of the rug so I’ve managed not to get my blood pressure elevated over THAT. The Middle Eastern drapes in potentate gold already have me seething.

texabama on September 1, 2010 at 8:43 AM

Look on the bright side. I was expecting kente cloth. Thank goodness someone nixed that.

Cody1991 on September 1, 2010 at 8:49 AM

I surprised that BHO doesn’t have one of his own quotes on the rug. No, I’m not being snarky. I really am surprised…
joejm65 on September 1, 2010 at 8:11 AM

Ha! You mean like:

Words, just wordsBarack Obama Deval Patrick

We are the one’s we’ve been waiting for
Barack Obama Hopi Indian Chief

I feel like there’s a righteous wind at our backs
Barack Obama Mao Tse Dung

Buy Danish on September 1, 2010 at 8:50 AM

“Government of the People, By the People, For the People” –Abby Adams

I said it once. Now attribute it to me! Isn’t that how quotes work?

Abby Adams on September 1, 2010 at 8:51 AM

Who was the decorator? Motel lobbies “R” us?

katy the mean old lady on September 1, 2010 at 8:32 AM

That way he can feel like he’s on vacation at all times.

darwin-t on September 1, 2010 at 8:53 AM

Cheesy. Just like the Obamas.

mr.blacksheep on September 1, 2010 at 8:59 AM

a new rug and reupholstering the furniture after eight years hardly qualifies as an outrage.

I’d agree with that, if they were just replacing a worn rug with a new one. But one article says that the rug they replaced was custom-designed and had cost $62,000. And I can’t help but wonder about the cost of a new custom rug woven with this president’s favorite quotes — that had to be pretty pricey too. Seems to be yet another unnecessary extravagance by this president at a time when so many Americans are out of work and/or on the public dole.

AZCoyote on September 1, 2010 at 9:01 AM

This admin only does cursory research. Not even google or wikipedia. If the BO says it, it must be true.

jbh45 on September 1, 2010 at 9:02 AM

“gimme my lobster and cheescake” – Michelle Obama.

That one didn’t make it either….

jbh45 on September 1, 2010 at 9:03 AM

tarpon on September 1, 2010 at 8:48 AM

Spectator article about the DOJ quote has it going on the building during FDR’s time, used by Janet Reno, and one of the people they think is the author -Jenks- was a big supporter on international law.

Kind of makes sense that Holder would use it seeing what he did with Az and the UN.

journeyintothewhirlwind on September 1, 2010 at 9:03 AM

It’s way past the time for those college transcripts to get unsealed. Albert Einstein he is not!

30 pcs of silver on September 1, 2010 at 8:21 AM

I have an ongoing debate with a friend. He maintains that Obama is intelligent, but bumbling. I say that he’s dumb as a hammer, but cunning. My friend has argued with less certainty in recent days.

Oldnuke on September 1, 2010 at 8:24 AM

Yes! Obie is as sly as they come.

30 pcs of silver on September 1, 2010 at 9:05 AM

It’s another thing entirely to have the misattribution written into the carpet of the Oval Office, and to have the White House continue to issue misinformation and shortchange the original author of the phrase.

…not surprised at all.

Liberals have rewritten history to suit their ideology to the point that facts just don’t matter to them anymore.

Baxter Greene on September 1, 2010 at 9:07 AM

I face this challenge with profound humility. -BO

…generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal… -BO

Monica on September 1, 2010 at 9:11 AM

I think President Obama is taking a cheap shot at Martin Luther King’s plagiarism. It would be sort of like putting “Four score and seven years ago…” and attributing it to Joe Biden.

Get it?

Plagiarist characterized as saying something he didn’t say?

I say Obama is a crafty genius.

jeff_from_mpls on September 1, 2010 at 9:17 AM

If they’re going to plagerize a quote, why not weave in some of Biden’s stolen words?

Make them immortal.

NoDonkey on September 1, 2010 at 9:18 AM

Liberals have rewritten history to suit their ideology to the point that facts just don’t matter to them anymore.

Baxter Greene on September 1, 2010 at 9:07 AM

Marxism: the future is perfectly fixed, the past is malleable.

jeff_from_mpls on September 1, 2010 at 9:19 AM

…not surprised at all.

Liberals have rewritten history to suit their ideology to the point that facts just don’t matter to them anymore.

Baxter Greene on September 1, 2010 at 9:07 AM

Very good point my friend!..:)

PS..Let’s stop them starting in 2010!

Dire Straits on September 1, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Time to consult the all knowing, all seeing, TOTUS!

csdeven on September 1, 2010 at 9:22 AM

Hey.. he’s the president, he can do what he wants. If he wants to take credit for having said “let there be light…” then I’m sure that will be just fine with folks. Right?

Seriously, this guy is something else. Conveniently ignores anything that doesn’t go with his line, yet expects folks on the other side to do as they’re told. Very typical libbie behavior, I guess. Frustratin’ though.

Mad Mad Monica on September 1, 2010 at 9:35 AM

The new rug also has a new feature, promoted by the White House to the media, of inspirational quotes on its circumference from great Americans like Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

This unique design was done on purpose. “It is The Ones” way of correcting anyone who disagrees with him. When you have not live up to his expectations he tells you to stand in the corner, that’s right he forgot there are no corners in an oval. and he has a diagram of all of the phrases on a diagram on his desk blotter, so he kows exactly what he requires you remember. Then he further belittles you by telling you to read the carpet and remember the words he lives by?????

Before he leaves that unattributable verse will be credited to him because he will demand it.

MSGTAS on September 1, 2010 at 9:39 AM

The Oval Office looks horrific.

The nuveau riche narcissistic malicious rube in it is classless.

Schadenfreude on September 1, 2010 at 9:41 AM

MOSTEST GENIUS PRESIDENT EVAH!!!

Gimee a break.

crazy_legs on September 1, 2010 at 9:42 AM

None of those quotes were inspiring. The quote from Lincoln had a chance, but he left off the most important part. SHALL NOT PERISH FROM THIS EARTH.

This man should not be anywhere near the White House.

BetseyRoss on September 1, 2010 at 9:53 AM

. . . And of course Dr. King never actually said anything quotable /sarc

Good-faith effort at proper atribution is such an important fundamental component of honesty to me.

dts-01 on September 1, 2010 at 9:58 AM

“Government of the People, By the People, For the People” –Abby Adams
I said it once. Now attribute it to me! Isn’t that how quotes work?

Abby Adams on September 1, 2010 at 8:51 AM

+1

Well done!!

Khun Joe on September 1, 2010 at 10:04 AM

The only solution is to replace the quote with “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, and put down the name “Barry Hussein Obama”. Problem solved!

Really Right on September 1, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Naturally he would put those quotes on the carpet , after all isnt that what Propaganda is all about ? Shoveling one set of rhetoric to your critics and naive citizens , all the while hammering home a different message to your radical elite supporters and ruling against the will of the people ?

ELMO Q on September 1, 2010 at 10:07 AM

Does the White House not know how to use Google? Even Democratic Underground has this right.

Buy Danish on September 1, 2010 at 10:12 AM

Well it’s kind of a cool idea to put those quotes on a rug in the Oval office. (I’m kind of surprised he didn’t put one of his own quotes in there hahahhaha.) But come on, this is the Oval Office…these kinds of things should be checked and double checked so we don’t have bloopers on the rug.

scalleywag on September 1, 2010 at 10:21 AM

When you believe you are King things can be anything you want them to be.

Yoop on September 1, 2010 at 10:40 AM

The full Parker quote was:

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”

Dr. Martin Luther King paraphrased it to that one sentence.

JeffinSac on September 1, 2010 at 10:42 AM

I say that he’s dumb as a hammer, but cunning.

Oldnuke on September 1, 2010 at 8:24 AM

That’s the problem. To him everything American looks like a nail.

Yoop on September 1, 2010 at 10:43 AM

At least he didn’t use the Democrat’s favorite quote from the Bush years, which they falsely attributed to Jefferson: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Oh, wait, dissent isn’t cool anymore . . . .

Sowell Disciple on September 1, 2010 at 10:49 AM

JeffinSac on September 1, 2010 at 10:42 AM

Thank you for the full quote.

Sowell Disciple on September 1, 2010 at 10:51 AM

Oldnuke on September 1, 2010 at 8:24 AM

I think the only grade he has earned in his entire life is A+ for self esteem.

Cindy Munford on September 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

Bambi said King said it,so that’s the way it is.
Bambi says it ,it must be true.Eveybody who disagrees is wrong.

DDT on September 1, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Martin Luther King did say what the White House attributes to him, but it wasn’t original to King, and King never claimed it was. King quoted 19th-century Unitarian minister Theodore Parker, who wrote it in 1853.

Even if King didn’t invent this quote, Obama knows that Martin Luther King carries more weight with his supporters than the relatively unknown Theodore Parker.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodore_Parker#Further_reading

Of the five quotes in Obama’s carpet, the King/Parker quote is the only one attributed to a black man. According to the above biography, Parker was a WHITE abolitionist (to his credit), who was also criticized in his day for doubting Jesus’ miracles, and some people doubted whether Parker was a Christian. With Obama’s receiving his own “Christian” faith from Jeremiah Wright, would Obama want to call attention to Parker in the White House rug, or credit the quote to King, whose faith is doubted by no one?

Steve Z on September 1, 2010 at 11:04 AM

…generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal… -BO

Monica on September 1, 2010 at 9:11 AM

History-book writers will LOL over that one!!!

Steve Z on September 1, 2010 at 11:09 AM

Since our VP is a plagerist, this is only fitting. Joe’s name was originally attached to that quote, but they sent that rug back to Michigan.

djaymick on September 1, 2010 at 11:25 AM

I surprised that BHO doesn’t have one of his own quotes on the rug. No, I’m not being snarky. I really am surprised…

joejm65 on September 1, 2010 at 8:11 AM

The walls of the White House have already been redecorated with photographs of the Bamster. I guess they took a break with the carpet.

Can anyone look at the way M’chell dresses and wonder who was in charge of the Oval Office redecoration?

slickwillie2001 on September 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM

If the money to remodel the Oval Office came from the stimulus plan and was viewed by 20 million people, can the government count them as “lives affected” (the new metric for counting “jobs saved or created) by the stimulus?

djaymick on September 1, 2010 at 11:30 AM

It’s way past the time for those college transcripts to get unsealed. Albert Einstein he is not!

30 pcs of silver on September 1, 2010 at 8:21 AM

30, he ain’t even Lou Costello, much less Einstein. I agree, it’s waaaaaay past time for his records to be released. Thank God I can see November from my front porch!

Mini-14 on September 1, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Can anyone look at the way M’chell dresses and wonder who was in charge of the Oval Office redecoration?

slickwillie2001 on September 1, 2010 at 11:28 AM

She had the first 20 prototypes of the carpet turned into dresses?

Yoop on September 1, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Obama wished real hard that the quote was really from Martin Luther King.

There. All better now?

/sarc>

landlines on September 1, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Say … do I see two chairs upholstered in leather in the photo? Animal slaughterer!

/PETA off

ya2daup on September 1, 2010 at 12:42 PM

What cracks me up is the Abraham Lincoln quote, as if Obama really buys it. Not so much…

College Prof on September 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM

What cracks me up is the Abraham Lincoln quote, as if Obama really buys it. Not so much…

College Prof on September 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Well, I’m sure he believes in “of the people”.

But, upon reflection, I suspect he jsut enjoys walking all over the other two phrases.

malclave on September 1, 2010 at 3:20 PM

Obama:

You all tighten your belts, turn down your heaters in the winter and turn off your AC in the summer, forego your vacations…but me, haha, I’m finally gettin a piece of the pie!

Alden Pyle on September 1, 2010 at 5:42 PM