There has been a lot of back and forth “he said, she said” between the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer and the White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer about a lingering rumor swirling around about the whereabouts of the bust of Winston Churchill. Krauthammer claimed that President Obama removed the bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and sent it back to the British Embassy. Dan Pfeiffer responded on an official White House blog that, “This is 100% false.”
The bust in question is one of Sir Winston Churchill, by Sir Jacob Epstein, which was lent to the George W. Bush administration from the UK’s Government Art Collection, for the duration of the Presidency. This gift represented solidarity from one ally to another and a signal of the strong transatlantic relationship after the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Dan Pfeiffer wrote in his blog, “The bust [is] still in the White House. In the Residence. Outside the Treaty Room.” Pfeiffer claimed that the Churchill bust was not removed from the White House, but was moved from the Oval Office to the residence as President Barack Obama made room for an Abraham Lincoln bust. Pfeiffer concluded, “Hopefully this clears things up a bit and prevents folks from making this ridiculous claim again.”
Well, it does clear one thing up. Barack Obama was accurate when he said that his administration would be the most transparent in history. The problem is, it is one of lies. The bust Dan Pfeiffer was attempting to use to cover up the Presidents actions was given as a gift to President Lyndon B Johnson in 1965 by a group of Atlanticist diplomats and military officers, NOT the same bust of Churchill that once graced a prominent spot in the Oval Office.
The British Embassy in Washington has now confirmed that the bust now resides at the palatial residence of ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Britain’s ambassador to the US. The one displayed by Mr Bush was indeed returned, along with all other art lent to him, as his presidency came to an end, but when British officials offered to let Mr. Obama hang onto the bust for a further four years, the White House said: “Thanks, but no thanks.”
So, what is the big deal? American politicians have made quoting Churchill, whose mother was American, something of an art form. Americans have long revered Churchill, with some end-of-the-century surveys citing him as the Man of the Century. Churchill has less happy connotations for Mr. Obama than those American politicians who celebrate his wartime leadership. It was during Churchill’s second premiership, in 1952, that Britain ordered a crackdown on the Mau Mau rebellion against British colonial rule in Kenya, Obama’s ancestral homeland. Among Kenyans allegedly tortured by the colonial regime was the President’s grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, who was labeled a subversive during the uprising and spent several months in detention.
So, maybe it’s no surprise that Obama wouldn’t want Churchill watching over his shoulder thus he returned the bust because of antipathy towards the British and more specifically his view of colonialism. His feelings for Churchill and colonialism seem to stem from his relationship with his teenage mentor Frank Marshall Davis, a literal card-carrying member of Communist Party USA, introduced to young Barack through his grandfather, Stanley Dunham.
Barack Obama’s mentor disliked Churchill because the British prime minister was the ultimate anti-communist. Davis, to the contrary, was so pro-communist that he was an actual card-carrying member of Communist Party USA. Writing for the Associated Negro Press, he excoriated Churchill as an imperialist, a warmonger seeking domination and “supremacy.” “The only people Churchill gives a rap about,” charged Davis, “are the white people of the British Empire.” Churchill hoped to “bludgeon all other countries into submission,” and was seeking American support in that cruel endeavor.
Frank Marshall Davis is another of those radical associations in Obama’s past. There are so many, and so unusually bad, that Obama, if he were a typical citizen, probably wouldn’t get a security clearance for an entry-level government job. It is a good thing for America that we have an election coming up in November. Mitt Romney is “…looking forward to the bust of Winston Churchill being in the Oval Office again.”