Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 10, 2008

A MEETING OF THE MINDS.... Barack and Michelle Obama will be the honored guests at the White House this afternoon for "a meeting that could be as awkward as it is historic," the New York Times reported.

It will almost certainly be a pleasant get-together. The President and the First Lady will give the Obamas a tour of the White House, and the men will eventually "split off to begin the formal transfer of power." Obama told reporters on Friday that he expects a "substantive conversation between myself and the president." It's unlikely, for example, that either will bring up the often sharp criticism each directed at the other during the campaign. (Remember when Bush traveled to Israel's Knesset to condemn Obama's foreign policy as "appeasement" along the lines of Chamberlain? Good times, good times.)

And while everyone would no doubt love to be a fly on the wall for the Oval Office chat, I'm going to guess that Bush is going to spend quite a bit of time talking about the floor, or more accurately, what's covering the floor.

Nothing says power like the Oval Office. The paintings of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The bust of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The desk used by both Roosevelts.

And then there's the rug. Don't forget the rug. President Bush never does.

For whatever reason, Bush seems fixated on his rug. Virtually all visitors to the Oval Office find him regaling them about how it was chosen and what it represents. Turns out, he always says, the first decision any president makes is what carpet he wants in his office. As a take-charge leader, he then explains, he of course made a command decision -- he delegated the decision to Laura Bush, who chose a yellow sunbeam design.

Bush has told this story hundreds of times, on the stump, to foreign dignitaries, and in media interviews in the White House. He insists the rug says "optimistic person." Former White House communications director Nicolle Wallace noted the president's carpet fixation, telling the Washington Post a while back, "He loves his rug."

I'd bet just about anything that it's the first thing Bush talks about when Obama enters the room.

In fact, I have a request of some of the reporters who travel with Obama: ask him after today's tour if Bush brought up the rug. I just want to see his facial expression.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (38)

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Not to put too sharp a point on it, but it President* Bush engages Hon. Sen. Obama with "substantive conversation," it will be the first time he has been reported to have done so. Frankly, I don't think the man has it in him.

Posted by: jhm on November 10, 2008 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

The optimistic rug! It's like running into an old friend you've nearly forgotten about.

Posted by: rege on November 10, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Rug schmrug. Obama is about to pull the rug out from underneath Bushit's sleazy policies which include torture, renditions, spying, upper class welfare, head-in-the-sand environmental dictates, and preemptive lunacy. Good riddance to the rug and the knuckle-heads who walked on it on a daily basis...

Posted by: Stevio on November 10, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

Obama should mess with Bush and say he's going to get a rug with a huge black power fist on it.

Posted by: mroberts on November 10, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

To be fair, I hear the rug really ties the room together.

Posted by: Dan on November 10, 2008 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Shut the f*** up, Danny!

Posted by: Jim on November 10, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe he'll show Obama the painting of the horse thief skedaddling out of town just ahead of the posse. An image capturing the essence of the Bush II administration.

Posted by: jimBOB on November 10, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

The best decision of his entire presidency was made by his wife?

Posted by: jen f on November 10, 2008 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

While I realize that any defense of Bush is tantamount to treason around here, isn't it a LITTLE unfair to point out one of the few occasions that Bush spoke out publicly against Obama during the campaign, considering how DRASTICALLY much less frequently that happened relative to the opposite? There's no question but that Obama's points were more fact-based, more honest, but this sounds a bit hypocritical coming from someone who was outraged over false implications of equivilancy when comparing Obama's and McCain's negative ads three weeks ago.

Just a friendly reminder to try to be fair even to our enemies. Bush is an a-hole, but while he's ruined the country, he hasn't said a tenth as many negative things about Obama as he's said about Bush.

Posted by: Jesse on November 10, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

I hope Bush brings up the rug and Obama responds, "Whatever. We can't be throwing around a lot of money to replace it. Let's talk about those executive orders you're thinking about issuing."

Posted by: Danp on November 10, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Scenarios are fun to imagine, but this is probably less a substantial policy occasion, and more a social/ceremonial visit.

I'm sure both the Obamas will exhibit the good manners that were evident in the campaign. And I'm sure Laura Bush is a gracious hostess. As for junior - I'm sure he'll mug and caper in the narcissistic, center-of-attention way he always does, and they'll humor him.

I, too, bet he talks about "Ruggie." Hope we get to hear about it!

Posted by: g on November 10, 2008 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

I thought the rug had been consigned to a "Going out of business" sale.

Ah, for the days of Calvin Coolidge's picture gracing the wall - It helped Ronny to nod off.

Kinda nice for Shrub to show President-Elect Obama his new duties watching the back door. "And, the pots and pans, are over there".

Posted by: berttheclock on November 10, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

Bush is an a-hole, but while he's ruined the country, he hasn't said a tenth as many negative things about Obama as he's said about Bush. -Jesse

If by negative, you mean criticizing the careless way we went into the Iraq war, or policies that ignor the needs of Main Street, I would argue that Obama has been the tamest critic in public life. I don't recall him using any words like "appeaser" either.

Posted by: Danp on November 10, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

The rug is lumpy and strange, unsettling smells are coming from underneath it. 8 years of Bushwa have been swept under that rug and Shrubwit will probably urge POTUS Nouveau to keep the rug right where it is lest the dirt beging to spill out.

The nasty smell can be covered by hanging a box of pine tree air fresheners around the O.O. That's Shruby's version of a Green solution.

The Rug Knows.

Posted by: burro on November 10, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

I hope Bush brings up the rug and Obama responds, "Whatever. We can't be throwing around a lot of money to replace it. Let's talk about those executive orders you're thinking about issuing."

Meh. Whatever. Bush is going to issue those orders regardless of what Obama thinks about it. Bush is going to veto the stimulus package regardless of what Obama thinks about it. Bush is going to do what Bush does and he doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone, anywhere thinks about it.

As a fly on the wall I imagine the meeting would be pretty damn boring. Bush may go on about inane trivialities, Obama may ask about this piece of the transition or the other, but everyone knows that it's going to be his "people" working with Bush's "people" to do most of the transfer of power, and that this meeting is mostly symbolic rather than business.

I mean, it would be nice to think that Obama could go in there and make a strong case that Bush should just not worry about mucking things up any further and maybe start his last vacation as President this week. But the chances of that being successful are probably smaller than the chances of me coming home tonight and finding a unicorn in my garage.

Posted by: NonyNony on November 10, 2008 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

When I think presidential rugs, I think of the throw rug that has the eagle's head turned towards the olive branch in times of peace and it gets replaced by an identical rug where the eagle's head faces the talon grasping a clutch of arrows when the US is in a state of war (which Dubya never let us forget, naturally).

I can just envision Bush deciding on a sunbeam rug to replace that stale old motif.

If he doesn't respect the Constitution, that little tradition can't be worth much.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on November 10, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

The best decision of his entire presidency was made by his wife?

Can you name one decision by Bush that was better than Laura's decision about the rug?

Posted by: tomeck on November 10, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

I always thought the rug went great with his dangling cat "Hang in there, Baby. Friday's coming!" poster and his Budweiser beach towel on the wall.

Posted by: chrenson on November 10, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

What are the odds that Bush will ask to take that carpet with him into exile ... I mean retirement.

Posted by: Rick B on November 10, 2008 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

What are the odds that Bush will ask to take that carpet with him into exile ... I mean retirement.

Ah, I see the Republicans managed to successfully mislead you with their screaming in 2000 about how Clinton "stole" the rug from the Oval Office. In fact, every president takes his Oval Office rug with him when he leaves the White House -- I think Reagan's is at the Reagan Library.

I look forward to all of the talking heads who complained about Clinton taking his rug complaining again when Bush does the exact same thing. I think I may have a long wait.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on November 10, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

There is a strong need for more big lebowski references in this thread.

Posted by: Aaron on November 10, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

President Elect Obama (I love saying that btw) has "already measured the drapes" so apparently he's already seen the damned rug. I'm hoping the rug design is the same presidential-like "seal" he used at some event which was damned by just about everyone.

:P~

Posted by: MissMudd on November 10, 2008 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

God damn you [Aaron]! You fuckin' asshole! Everything's a fuckin' travesty with you, man!

Posted by: Everett on November 10, 2008 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

The Bush-Obama meeting in the Oval Office as envisioned by the Cohen Brothers:

Barack: What do you do for recreation?
George: Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback.

Posted by: Everett on November 10, 2008 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

I think it'll be refreshing (well, everything about this change is refreshing) to have an Oval Office that might include some Hawaiin or Kenyan/African design and art. I'm sure Lincoln and Kennedy will be featured somewhere as well.

It's also nice to have a president with a Northern/Midwestern/Chicago/urban perspective, as opposed to yet another southerner or Texan. Being a northerner, it's nice to be part of "real" America again, lol.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on November 10, 2008 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

SCREW the rug. Let's see if Obama heard about the "Charge to Keep" painting.

Bush always shows this off to visitors. It's an old illustration for a story about a horse thief but he somehow got it in his head that the horseman being chased off into the foreground is a Methodist circuit rider fleeing people who didn't want to hear the gospel. Furthermore he points at the horse thief and speaks of how he identifies with him, as someone who would be willing to be persecuted for spreading good throughout the world. He completely misidentifies the guy but still manages to make an observation about himself with implications he's too dumb to even recognize. It's a great story on so many levels.

Posted by: MillionthMonkey on November 10, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

The denouement of the rug incident, outside the White House on January 21, 2009:

George: Also, my rug was stolen.
Younger Cop: The rug was in the car?
George: No. It was here.
Younger Cop: [eager] Oh, separate incidents.
Barack: [on answering machine] George, this is Barack. I need to see you. I'm the one who took your rug.
Younger Cop: Well. I guess we can close the file on that one.

Posted by: Everett on November 10, 2008 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

With all these opportunities for Big Lebowski references (easily the funniest movie of all time), its amazing that everyone except Everett had an error.

Its Donny, not Danny.

Its the Coen Brothers, not Cohen.

And its Walter, not Aaron played by John Goodman.

Yeesh.

But that rug really did tie the room together.

Posted by: Piper on November 10, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Everett,
Dude, I deeply admire your devotion to all things Lebowski but this aggression will not stand, man.

To cast Bush as The Dude is to defile the whole perfection, (the "zen" in the preferred nomenclature of our day) of The Dude. Please stop.

Dick Cheney, OTOH, most definitely resembles Walter Sobchak, gun-waving, lunatic, neocon (minus the actual Viet Nam service and courage to do his own dirty work). Please feel free to draw analogies.

As for Obama (versus, say the current neocons and nihilists encamped at 1600): "Say what you will about ...'socialism', at least its an ethos, my friend."

Posted by: Donny, the one who will not be silenced on November 10, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "I have a request of some of the reporters who travel with Obama: ask him after today's tour if Bush brought up the rug."

If reporters ask Obama about Bush's rug, Obama should reply "I was quite impressed. Like most Americans I had thought his hair was real."

Posted by: SecularAnimist on November 10, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Bush: Federal official called and demanded $2 trillion be handed to them, or they would kill the Ameriacn economy.

Barack: The carpet pissers did this?

Bush: The economy’s life is in your hands.
Barack: No, no, don’t say that, man....
Bush: It’s life is in your hands. Cheney made it very clear that I should repeat that....

Posted by: Joe Vegas on November 10, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Donny, I totally agree. It's just unfortunate that so many of the Dude's lines can fit so easily (though without the Dude's stoner insouciance) in Bush's bitter, hateful and utterly lame-duck lips...

Posted by: Everett on November 10, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Not to change the subject from one of my favoritest movies evah, but check out this photo. Ike and Mamie welcome Jack and Jackie.

Barack and Michelle Obama, uniting genders and sexual orientations with eye candy for everyone!

Posted by: shortstop on November 10, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

He completely misidentifies the guy but still manages to make an observation about himself with implications he's too dumb to even recognize. It's a great story on so many levels.

I'd never heard that one. It is great, and fascinatingly parallels the Joe the Plumber business in its misappropriated symbolism.

If reporters ask Obama about Bush's rug, Obama should reply "I was quite impressed. Like most Americans I had thought his hair was real."

Nothing more glorious than when our dignified buddy SecularAnimist lets fly with something like this.

Posted by: shortstop on November 10, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

In case you were wondering what the rug looks like, it is featured in a Yahoo article about the visit:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081110/ap_on_el_pr/bush_obama;_ylt=Ai2tG8b0Pd2hS8jmk5500_as0NUE

I saw the picture before I read this blog entry. It's like Bush wanted to make sure that everyone got to see his rug before he leaves. Either that or he anticipated blog talk about his obsession with it and didn't want to make us wonder what it looked like.

Posted by: Kathie on November 10, 2008 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK
Obama should mess with Bush and say he's going to get a rug with a huge black power fist on it. Posted by: mroberts on November 10, 2008 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK
To be fair, I hear the rug really ties the room together. Posted by: Dan on November 10, 2008

You guys are hilarious! LOL

Posted by: MarkH on November 10, 2008 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

I heard recently that, despite all the perks that come with living in the white house, the first family still has to pay for any food that their private guests consume

Posted by: movie fan on November 10, 2008 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

SO TELL ME ABOUT THE RUG ALREADY!

Posted by: SteveB on November 11, 2008 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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