President Joe Biden has made a number of changes in Oval Office decor including notable additions and subtractions after former President Donald Trump left on Wednesday.
“All incoming presidents change the decor of the largely-symbolic room to offer a sense of their personality and the type of presidency they hope to have. Biden’s is notable for the sheer number of portraits and busts of well-known American historical figures,” the Washington Post reported.
“This Oval is an Oval for Day One,” Ashley Williams, the deputy director of Oval Office operations, said as she exclusively gave the paper a 20-minute tour before Biden came in.
“It was important for President Biden to walk into an Oval that looked like America and started to show the landscape of who he is going to be as president,” she added, the Post reported.
The office is adorned with busts of Martin Luther King Jr. as well as Robert F. Kennedy, flanking the fireplace. Biden has referred to both men and the impact they had on the 1960s civil rights movement.
Biden is also acknowledging the base of his Democratic Party. Behind the Resolute Desk now sits a bust of Cesar Chavez, an American socialist who became a leader for organized agricultural labor.
“Placing a bust of my father in the Oval Office symbolizes the hopeful new day that is dawning for our nation,” said Paul Chavez, the late labor leader’s middle son and president of a foundation named after his father, Newsweek reported.
Biden also placed busts of Eleanor Roosevelt, first lady to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and another civil rights icon, Rosa Parks.
There is also a sculpture of a horse and a rider of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, which once belonged to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), as well as a painting of Benjamin Franklin, which the Post reports is “intended to represent Biden’s interest in following science.”
Paired paintings of presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln also hang in the Oval along with a bust of former Sen. Daniel Webster, who once vigorously defended the Union.
The light-gold drapes present during President Trump’s term have been replaced with a darker shade of gold, which hung during President Bill Clinton’s terms. A dark-blue rug during Clinton’s tenure was also put back in the Oval Office because Biden reportedly liked the color.
“Gone are the flags of the branches of the military that Trump displayed behind the Resolute Desk,” the Post reported. “Biden has installed an American flag and another with a presidential seal.”
Biden also had a portrait of President Andrew Jackson removed that Trump had hung; both he and Jackson ran as populists. Also, Jackson was the first president to be directly elected; he once proposed eliminating the electoral college.
Some criticized the addition of Jackson over claims that he was racist, as was Trump, by association.
Trump also had a bust of Winston Churchill reinstalled which had first been lent to President George W. Bush by Great Britain, It was returned after President Barack Obama took office; Biden does not have it on display, the Post reported.
Trump also kept a bust of MLK in the Oval Office, though Time magazine reporter Zeke Miller falsely claimed that Trump had removed it just days after taking office in January 2017.
“They’re not saying the bust is taken out, what they’re saying is I’m a racist,” Trump said at the time. “That’s a very serious charge. The bust was never moved. I have great respect for Dr. Martin Luther King.”
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