WASHINGTON — When President Obama speaks tonight on the end of combat operations in Iraq, he'll be doing so from a newly renovated Oval Office.
His formal work space got a redecorating while the Obamas were on vacation. That's sure to trigger some debate: Is it an ostentatious move when so many Americans are struggling economically? A good way to support U.S. furniture and rug makers? Ultimately does it symbolize anything or are White House room makeovers just something presidents do?
In a statement relayed through today's in-town print pool reporter, Chuck Lewis of Hearst, the White House did not release the tab for the work but called it "a comparable level of redesign" to what Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton had done and said it was paid through the White House Historical Association with funds from the Presidential Inaugural Committee. In other words, not by taxpayers.
The changes include:
New and reupholstered furniture (the new desk chair, coffee table, couches and table lamps are American-made), new paint and wallpaper.
A new rug, wheat, cream and blue colored and oval-shaped, of 25 percent recycled wool, with the presidential seal in the center and historical quotes of Obama's choice. The rug is by the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Scott Group, which made the Oval Office rug designed for Clinton and rugs for the White House State Dining Room.
The quotes Obama chose for the rug come from FDR, Martin Luther King Jr., Lincoln, Kennedy and Teddy Roosevelt: "The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself;" "The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice;" "Government of the People, By the People, For the People;" "No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings"; "The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us."