WaPo: Hey, that Oval Office rug quote got botched
posted at 2:20 pm on September 4, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Today, the Washington Post notices that the White House doesn’t bother to do much research. Of course, had Jamie Stiehm been an avid reader of our Obamateurisms of the Day feature at Hot Air, the Post may have noticed this over a year ago:
A mistake has been made in the Oval Office makeover that goes beyond the beige.
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. Unless you’re fascinated by antebellum American reformers, you may not know of the lyrically gifted Parker, an abolitionist, Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist thinker who foresaw the end of slavery, though he did not live to see emancipation. He died at age 49 in 1860, on the eve of the Civil War.
For the record, King never claimed the phrase as his own. He quoted Parker, one of his inspirations, in using this phrase, a point never noticed by Barack Obama during his campaign. He repeated the phrase often enough that it caught the attention of Reverend Matt Tittle, who attempted to inform the campaign in April 2008 that Obama was misattributing the quote. The campaign never replied to Tittle, but for a while Obama dropped the reference, and Tittle thought the message had been received.
When did this come out? Well, Tittle blogged about it in December 2008 at the Houston Chronicle. In July 2009, I wrote about it as an Obamateurism of the Day — and that was more than a year before the White House decided to commit their poor research into the press release for the Oval Office rug. When that happened, it became one of this week’s OOTDs, and will be one of the selections in tomorrow’s OOTW poll.
It’s nice of the Post to notice this, even if it ran on a Saturday, but perhaps they might credit Tittle, who first reported it.