Did Obama WH use the wrong seal for Oval Office rug?

posted at 9:00 am on September 6, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Last week, we noted that the White House didn’t do very good research on one of the quotes woven into the new Oval Office rug, attributing it to Martin Luther King, Jr, instead of Theodore Parker. Even the Washington Post noticed that one. However, some Hot Air readers have asserted that the Presidential seal on the new carpet looks a lot more like the Vice-Presidential seal.  But is that really true?  Take a look at the new Oval Office rug:

Next, check out the VP seal:

And the actual seal of the President:

At first blush, the new Oval Office rug seems to be a marriage of the two, at least in terms of the emblem.  The VP seal doesn’t have the stars circling the eagle, so it’s not really the VP seal in the Oval Office.  However, it has the wrong color for the stars, which are supposed to be white, according to the Executive Order issued by President Dwight Eisenhower (#10860) that governs the Presidential Seal:

Executive Order 10860
Coat of arms, seal, and flag of the President of the United States

By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. The Coat of Arms of the President of the United States shall be of the following design:
SHIELD: Paleways of thirteen pieces argent and gules, a chief azure; upon the breast of an American eagle displayed holding in his dexter talon an olive branch and in his sinister a bundle of thirteen arrows all proper, and in his beak a white scroll inscribed “E PLURIBUS UNUM” sable.
CREST: Behind and above the eagle a radiating glory or, on which appears an arc of thirteen cloud puffs proper, and a constellation of thirteen mullets argent.
The whole surrounded by white stars arranged in the form of an annulet with one point of each star outward on the imaginary radiating center lines, the number of stars conforming to the number of stars in the union of the Flag of the United States as established by chapter 1 of title 4 of the United States Code.

Sec. 2. The Seal of the President of the United States shall consist of the Coat of Arms encircled by the words “Seal of the President of the United States.”

Sec. 3. The Color and Flag of the President of the United States shall consist of a dark line blue rectangular background of sizes and proportions to conform to military and naval custom, on which shall appear the Coat of Arms of the President in proper colors. The proportions of the elements of the Coat of Arms shall be in direct relation to the hoist, and the fly shall vary according to the customs of the military and naval services.

Sec. 4. The Coat of Arms, Seal, and Color and Flag shall be as described herein and as set forth in the illustrations and specifications which accompany this order and which are hereby made a part thereof. These designs shall be used to represent the President of the United States exclusively.

Sec. 5. This order shall become effective on July 4, 1960, and Executive Order No. 10823 of May 26, 1959, shall be superseded as of that date.

Note that EO 10860 does not specify a navy blue background for the center image, but the stars are supposed to be white, not silver, argent, or gray, either. White stars would get lost on a white background.  Traditionally, the field has been navy blue, not white, while the white field has been traditionally reserved for the Vice Presidential seal.  The clouds are also the wrong color, although that’s somewhat less explicit in EO 10860.  It’s also missing the text, “Seal of the President of the United States.”

Now, with that being said, let’s look at a few previous editions of the Oval Office rug.  First, the George W. Bush era:

The field is blue, but not the navy usually associated with the seal, although the stars are white.  However, this seal is also missing its text.  Bush replaced this version of it from the Clinton era:

This is much more traditional but again doesn’t have the text.  And then we have this version from George H. W. Bush:

And for good measure, Ronald Reagan is pictured here with the carpet he chose for the Oval Office:

Any complaints with Barack Obama’s Oval Office rug could also be applied to versions used by Reagan and Bush 41. They both used a creme field, gold stars instead of white, and no text, either (although that’s hard to make out in the Reagan picture).  And that’s just fine, because the carpet isn’t supposed to be an exact replica of the seal.  Basically, the Oval Office reflects the artistic taste of its occupant, which is one of the perks of becoming President.  That applies to the carpet and the depiction of the Presidential Seal within it; some Presidents didn’t bother weaving the seal into the carpet at all, either.

So no, Obama and his team didn’t use the wrong seal for the carpet, or get the seal wrong at all in any official sense.  Some may not like the non-traditional representation of the seal in the new carpet, but it’s at least slightly more traditional than Bush 41 — and if tradition is what people like, then Bill Clinton’s Oval Office rug would be the hands-down winner.

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