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.


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Barack and his staff are probably kicking themselves right now for not going with their original rug design plan, which would have eliminated the presidential seal entirely and replaced it with the Obama campaign logo. Picture of the “messiah” Obama Hussein with halo and qoutes from his speeches on that ipod on the border!

jon1979 on September 4, 2010 at 7:54 PM

dhunter on September 4, 2010 at 10:15 PM

One thing: I am surprised Obama kept the Resolute Desk and didn’t ship it back to the Brits back when he shipped back the bust of Churchill.

lansing quaker on September 4, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Urkel probably has his mark carved in it somewhere by now. Complete with:
“Urkel was hear” and
“Urkel Hearts Moochelle”

dhunter on September 4, 2010 at 10:27 PM

The styrofoam rug.

Dhuka on September 4, 2010 at 10:54 PM

Hey Man! It is hard for our Kenyan over lord to keep this stuff straight.

esnap on September 4, 2010 at 11:21 PM

The first wikipedia president.

Dhuka on September 4, 2010 at 11:31 PM

10 to 1 they ignore the whole thing and hope it sinks from sight. After all who else in the MSM will even repeat the story and if MLK said the words, that’s close enough for government work.

Fred 2 on September 5, 2010 at 1:10 AM

NPR had a story on this a few days ago.

Nonfactor on September 5, 2010 at 3:27 AM

Remaining true to form, once again Obama fails to get it right. According to the “peter principle” our fearless leader gained his level of incompetence upon his birth.

Wills on September 5, 2010 at 7:10 AM

So, revisionist history gets etched into the rug. It’s not a surprise to me that Ted Parker wasn’t credited, because his true grit grandfather now stands guard against tyranny over the battlefield at Lexington Green. Here’s a photo.

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1057/1465067453_45bb33bc6c.jpg

http://www.visitingnewengland.com/PageMill_Resources/lexington-minuteman.jpg

So, Massachusetts you have a choice. Are you going to let this man usurp the memory of one of the first courageous guardians of liberty that stood agains the tyranny of the British? The usurpation and misappropriation of the quote from Ted Parker demeans the history of Boston and attributes it to MLK Jr—apparently also known for his plagiarism. So, what do we consider a plagiarist quote usurper that quotes another plagiarist while he’s in the act of usurping a Bostonians sermon quote?

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 7:10 AM

Maybe Al Greene will get a chance to tap dance on that rug with his baby shoes.

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 7:11 AM

If I were a Congressman or Senator from the Boston area I believe that I’d register a protest…..

hint hint..SB?

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 7:19 AM

Yet somehow a mistake was made and magnified in our culture to the point that a New England antebellum abolitionist’s words have been enshrined in the Oval Office while attributed to a major 20th-century figure. That is a shame, because the slain civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate was so eloquent in his own right. Obama, who is known for his rhetorical skills, is likely to feel the slight to King — and Parker.

Magnified in our culture? Is that what rhetorical plagiarism is called these days? “Oh sorry professor, what I wrote has just been ‘magnified in our culture’ and is now enshrined in my master’s thesis.”—-c’mon Stiehm, Obama was wrong, King attributed the quote appropriately it appears and now the rug is a testament to someone failing to do their homework.

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 7:40 AM

The new look has less red, white and blue, and a decidedly more casual mojo

a quote above from that Wash Post article pretty much summarizes this whole administration.

malkinmania on September 5, 2010 at 9:17 AM

I do not like th manner in which he has changed the color of the start = states, and shield = protection, because of the implication. Because the blue is one shade short of black and the implication becomes extremely troublesome.

MSGTAS on September 5, 2010 at 9:52 AM

That’s 2 screwups in the Oval Office.

faraway on September 5, 2010 at 11:13 AM

The first wikipedia president.

Dhuka on September 4, 2010 at 11:31 PM

heh

cmsinaz on September 5, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Obama needs to go to the dictionary and look up the word “plagiarism”.

He enshrined and codified an error. Kind of like what he did with ObamaCare.

Paul-Cincy on September 5, 2010 at 11:43 AM

So, revisionist history gets etched into the rug. …..

Rug removal begins 1-20-13.

PappyD61 on September 5, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Either way, botched quote or not, the image of the presidential seal in the middle of both those rugs is pretty cool, IMO.

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 12:35 PM

Who supplied the new furniture ? Is this Ethan Allan decor, since the interior designer of this project is a muslim too.

http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3919

http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/29822

http://laborunionreport.blogspot.com/2009/12/they-came-they-dined-they-did.html

macncheez on September 5, 2010 at 12:48 PM

It’s no surprise to me that the Obama whitehouse is trying to re-write history.

tx2654 on September 5, 2010 at 12:56 PM

If I was POTUS, instead of FDR and Kennedy, I would have quotes from Thomas Jefferson(Obamalinsky really hates him)George Washington, John Adams, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and GWB. I would also run an anti-Communist cleansing of the government that would make Sen. Joe McCarthy look like a Boy Scout.

Let’s just say my administration would be 180 degrees from Comrade Obamalinsky’s. An American for America in other words.

adamsmith on September 5, 2010 at 1:00 PM

God forgive me for thinking this, but Theodore Parker was a white man. Obama would rather the quote was from Martin Luther King, and he has demonstrated often enough that if you repeat a falsehood over and over, people will believe it.

RebeccaH on September 5, 2010 at 1:22 PM

I’m just surprised the rug isn’t a self-portrait with Obama’s own quotes circled around it.

“I won.”

mudskipper on September 5, 2010 at 1:28 PM

I apologize if someone has already pointed this out, but worse than the quote, the new rug is the seal of the Vice President. The one it replaced was the correct seal. Talk about embarrassing!

cartooner on September 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM

If I were a Congressman or Senator from the Boston area I believe that I’d register a protest…..

hint hint..SB?

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 7:19 AM

You mean the SB that has voted with Obama about 80% of the time? Don’t hold your breath.

angryed on September 5, 2010 at 2:18 PM

I apologize if someone has already pointed this out, but worse than the quote, the new rug is the seal of the Vice President. The one it replaced was the correct seal. Talk about embarrassing!

cartooner on September 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM

how on earth can you tell?

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 2:33 PM

The Presidential one has a blue background as in the carpet from W’s office. The white background is for the VP, I believe.

francesca on September 5, 2010 at 3:19 PM


I apologize if someone has already pointed this out, but worse than the quote, the new rug is the seal of the Vice President. The one it replaced was the correct seal. Talk about embarrassing!

cartooner on September 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM

HEAR HEAR!

The Seal itself is indeed wrong, both in the swap of the background color to the white of the VP Seal, but also teh reversal of the 50 surrounding stars to the dk blue of the older VP Seal. The PRESIDENT’s Seal should have white stars, as specified in our founding documents and subsequent Presidential regularoty changes.

The sad part is that the President’s staff, the rug company who has done previous Oval Office work, the White House historical staff – none of them knew enough or cared enough or dared enough to ensure that it was correct. Instead they went along with this bland mocha-velour pimp-my-crib BS.

An entire WAREHOUSE of classic historical antiques and diplomatic gifts from allies, and they put that garbage moderne sofa-table-lamp set in there.

rayra on September 5, 2010 at 3:55 PM

I’ve posted a few more links of the related seal graphics here -
http://www.grouchyconservativepundits.com/index.php?topic=20735.0

rayra on September 5, 2010 at 4:00 PM

This reminds me of that moronic fake presidential seal he used during the campaign.

bitsy on September 5, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Regardless of the quote screwup, the carpet doesn’t even look as nice as GWB’s. If I had taken over for President Bush I think I would have just kept the carpet rather than replacing it with a bland “wheat”-colored one.

michjoe86 on September 5, 2010 at 4:21 PM

wow. it looks like rayra is onto something. It does appear that the seal is the one of the VPOTUS–with the color scheme background being white and the shield top being dark blue. Certainly not the same color scheme as the presidential seal.

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 4:23 PM

I’m just shocked he didn’t quote himself.

DailyDanet on September 5, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Let’s face it. The decor is 1980s Holiday Inn. The fact that they’ve screwed up the quote and the seal just further illuminates their ignorance.

kingsjester on September 5, 2010 at 4:26 PM

They must have found those couches next to the dumpster in the parking lot of the local Holiday Inn.

bitsy on September 5, 2010 at 4:27 PM

http://www.worthpoint.com/blog-entry/seal-and-flag-vice-president-united-states

And so it was that in 1974, upon being appointed by President Gerald Ford under the same constitutional amendment that also made him vice president, Nelson Rockefeller took it upon himself to have the seal of the vice president changed to reflect a more robust eagle design and perhaps a subtle improvement on his own constitutional role. He succeeded admirably. With a few minor stylistic differences and color variations, the vice presidential eagle is more striking than its predecessor, while still being noticeably different from that of the president.

The most striking difference is that the eagle is placed on a white background instead of the dark blue of the president. It is much larger than the earlier version, but is surrounded by no stars at all unlike the 50 stars that surround the seal of the president, although the flag of the vice president has a dark blue star in each of its four corners.

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 4:27 PM

kingsjester on September 5, 2010 at 4:26 PM

OMFG. Great minds think alike.

bitsy on September 5, 2010 at 4:28 PM

bitsy on September 5, 2010 at 4:28 PM

Yep.

kingsjester on September 5, 2010 at 4:32 PM

I’ve posted a few more links of the related seal graphics here -
http://www.grouchyconservativepundits.com/index.php?topic=20735.0

rayra on September 5, 2010 at 4:00 PM

Wow…A brit once told us that we should be proud that we have a president who has a library in the WH.
Hussain calls himself a professor of Constitutional laws.
The kneepads media keeps telling me that not only is he the most intelligent president , he is surrounded by real intelligent people, not some cronies from TX.
I wonder what they’ll tell us about stamping shrimpy’s carpet with Biteme’s seal !!

macncheez on September 5, 2010 at 4:58 PM

The fact that they’ve screwed up the quote and the seal just further illuminates their ignorance.

kingsjester on September 5, 2010 at 4:26 PM

I think this is just stunning. I would readily overlook the accidental missing star, or arrow in the eagles talon as a mistake–but to have both a quote fail, and now have the VP’s seal on there….is simply stunning.

How much do you want to bet that Joe Biden walks in there to admire his own rug??? Maybe this is simply prophetic???

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 4:59 PM

How much do you want to bet that Joe Biden walks in there to admire his own rug??? Maybe this is simply prophetic???

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Doesn’t he carry his rug with him all the time ? on his head ?
Maybe they took it away from him……

macncheez on September 5, 2010 at 5:06 PM

This reminds me of that moronic fake presidential seal he used during the campaign.

bitsy on September 5, 2010 at 4:20 PM

An inauthentic presidential seal for an inauthentic president.

Seems fitting.

AZCoyote on September 5, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Considering King’s thesis was proven to be riddled with plagerism (and would have had “Dr” stripped if he was anyone else) – why am I not too surprised.

Even when the error was pointed out 2 years ago – a lying, ignorant AA President and his staff do not care about the “truth” its all about the perception and “swagger”

It is also why every AA, entitlement idiot in any position should just get a 40 year salary – and stay out of the office. Results do not matter to AA people, unless you consider their employment a result.

Odie1941 on September 5, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Somewhere, in a dusty box inside the British embassy, the bust of Winston Churchill is chuckling….

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 5:32 PM

His speech-writers aren’t generally all that scrupulous about getting their facts right. Why should his carpet people be any different?

morganfrost on September 5, 2010 at 5:46 PM

Maybe they will move a coffee table over it. Out sight means it never happened!

fbcmusicman on September 5, 2010 at 6:24 PM

From the comment section of an article in National Review

More precisely: King’s often repeated expression that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice” was his own succinct summation of sentiments echoing those of Theodore Parker, who, in “Of Justice and the Conscience” (1853) asserted: “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.”

If this is true, then the quote does belong to King.
Obama is responsible for exacerbating the political tensions in this country to an enormous degree, and by turn, of prolonging the economic tension, and for these he deserves judgement.

tartan on September 5, 2010 at 7:44 PM

Okay, folks, is the name of each author on the rug or not? If it is not, then the rug is not “in error,” is it? Honestly, Obama does plenty wrong — why harp on this when it was just the press release that was wrong?

tanarg on September 5, 2010 at 8:08 PM

Okay, folks, is the name of each author on the rug or not? If it is not, then the rug is not “in error,” is it? Honestly, Obama does plenty wrong — why harp on this when it was just the press release that was wrong?

tanarg on September 5, 2010 at 8:08 PM

You may be right and, if so, let’s set it aside. However, if you notice the large seal in the center of the rug, it’s the on of the VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES whereas it should be the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES…..a minor error, I know, but an error nonetheless..

ted c on September 5, 2010 at 8:16 PM

Sorry, something quite Freudian about a kerfluffle over a rug…Bo is housebroken, right?

Chewy the Lab on September 5, 2010 at 9:07 PM

Like that leftist lady the wrote a book about Chief Seattle mourning the loss of buffalo from the train he rode 0nly to be proven that Chief Seattle was dead before the trains crossed the plains. She remarked that “He would have said it if he were alive then.”

And so the left will in good conscience (that means anything they say) assume MLK to would have thought those very words if he were alive back then.

U.S.History by B.H.Obama

Don L on September 5, 2010 at 9:13 PM

Facts are immaterial to a leftist. All that matters is narrative. ‘Theatre of the mind’, with each of them on their own center stage.
And that’s what the material of this rug is, a stage for a preening marxist to strut upon. That it has a quote his campaign repeatedly misused on it, that it has significant errors in what is supposed to be the Seal of the President of the United States (and NOT some brand logo alterable on a whim for color coordination or campaign use), that it is part of a remodel that is more befitting a pimp’s business office than the central office of the leader of mightiest nation on the planet, is immaterial.

And anyone who thinks or pretends this is ‘just about a rug’ is a damned idiot. It is at a minimum a symbol of the Obamunists’ sloppy hubris and historical ignorance of the forms and traditions of this nation, and their repeated abrogations of same.

rayra on September 5, 2010 at 10:33 PM

Two more years and the White House will resemble the White House in the movie “Idiocracy”. The level of governing(ruling over)is already there…

adamsmith on September 6, 2010 at 9:50 AM

It’s Bush’s fault – if they had redecorated according to my wishes, this never would have happened. They are so arrogant.

Fuquay Steve on September 6, 2010 at 9:56 AM

Hey, that Oval Office rug quote got botched!

The obvious refrain: Blame Bush.

/9:56:…

maverick muse on September 6, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Is this really a story? There are no attributions on the carpet, only the quotations. In addition, MLK paraphrased and revised the original Parker quote and made it his own. He used this “new” quote frequently, and many, many folks (including conservatives) attribute it to MLK. The WaPo piece was poorly researched. Don’t believe everything you read.

dakine on September 6, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Hey, now the rug is a collectors item. It will be worth millions because of the flaw. Maybe Obama is not as stupid as he acts.

percysunshine on September 6, 2010 at 6:40 PM

These comments are hilarious!

Nonfactor on September 6, 2010 at 11:54 PM

The WaPo piece was poorly researched. Don’t believe everything you read.

dakine on September 6, 2010 at 2:18 PM

That darned WaPo is clearly a tool of the neocons!

hawksruleva on September 7, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Obama just started working on the rug, and the rug is getting better, but it’s going to take time to reverse 10 years of poor rug quotes.

Bush and the Republicans drove the rug into a ditch, and now they want the keys back!

hawksruleva on September 7, 2010 at 10:01 AM

“the White House doesn’t bother to do much research”

You mean the people in charge of getting the rug made.

Wait, according to Hotair, the Obama administration is to be held accountable for not spending time proofreading a fu*king rug.

What a bunch of pis*y pantsed bullsh*t this story is.

Someone got the rug wrong. Fix it. Move on with your sad whiny lives.

Dave Rywall on September 7, 2010 at 12:37 PM

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