Guess What? The Churchill Bust Is Still In The White House (Or At Least One Of Them Is)
The story behind President Obama’s decision to replace the bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the Oval Office since shortly after September 11, 2001 with a bust of Abraham Lincoln has, for some bizarre reason been a bugaboo on the right for the past three years. It’s cited quite frequently as evidence of the Obama Administration’s disdain for the “special relationship” with the United Kingdom, and has even been used by some as “proof” of the President’s Kenyan sympathies. What nobody seems to have realized, though, is that the bust is still in the White House:
Lately, there’s been a rumor swirling around about the current location of the bust of Winston Churchill. Some have claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy.
Now, normally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column. He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”
This is 100% false. The bust still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.
News outlets have debunked this claim time and again. First, back in 2010 the National Journal reported [Note – the National Journal link is archived and only available to subscribers — Ed.] that “the Churchill bust was relocated to a prominent spot in the residence to make room for Abraham Lincoln, a figure from whom the first African-American occupant of the Oval Office might well draw inspiration in difficult times.” And just in case anyone forgot, just last year the AP reported that President Obama “replaced the Oval Office fixture with a bust of one of his American heroes, President Abraham Lincoln, and moved the Churchill bust to the White House residence.”
I’ll admit that this is news to me since I’d always assumed that the bust had been returned, and I never really bothered to look into the details of the story because I considered the entire meme to be completely ridiculous. But the fact that there are two news reports out there substantiating the fact the bust wasn’t returned but simply moved to another location suggests that the people who latched onto this meme aren’t just exaggerating a ridiculous story, they are lying.
Yea, I know you’re as shocked about that as I am.
In any event, you need not worry Anglophiles Sir Winston remains safe and sound at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Now, can we talk about something that matters?
Update It’s worth noting that there have been conflicting media reports about this over the last three years. In 2009, The Telegraph had reported that it had been returned and was at the British Embassy in Washington. In 2010, CBS News repeated that the bust had been returned as previously scheduled before Obama had taken office. However, that photograph seems to be pretty clear evidence of where the bust is, at least on the day that Prime Minister Cameron visited the White House.
Update # 2: So, it turns out there are two Churchill busts. Also, the one that was in the Oval Office was only intended to be there for the duration of the Bush Presidency.
Photo: President Barack Obama shows Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom a bust of Sir Winston Churchill in the private residence of the White House, July 20, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)