Now that a new American president has joined the White House, it’s time to take a look at a detail of the prestigious presidential residence: the world’s most famous room decoration, the oval desk. Because Joe Biden has put his touch, and inevitably there are political symbols and messages. With each tenant change, the new tenant makes some changes. Of an aesthetic nature, but not only. For example, the carpet has been changed.
The Trump era rug was pretty light. Joe Biden opted for a deep blue rug. This is the rug that Bill Clinton chose at the time. On the other hand, he kept the gold curtains, just behind the desk. Very visible behind him, when he signed his first decrees, we can see photos of their children Hunter, Beau and Ashley… As well as his many grandchildren.
In the middle of his family photos, we find the photo of Pope Francis. Remember that Joe Biden is the second Catholic president of the United States after John Fitzgerald Kennedy. And then the bust of César Chávez, an American of Mexican origin. He was a union leader, militant for the rights of agricultural workers. We met his battle cry: “Si se posible”, in English “yes we can”. Slogan that inspired Barack Obama during his first election campaign.
From the “Founding Fathers” and the father of the New Deal
What is very interesting to observe are the paintings of former American presidents. Andrew Jackson, Donald Trump’s model, comes out. He was not the most consensual president, recognized for having favored popular democracy but also for his very harsh policies towards Amerindians. The largest portrait is that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It is symbolic. He’s the president of the New Deal, important works after the crisis of 1929. Biden will also have to manage serious crises.
In fact, he speaks in particular of a “Green New Deal” to develop renewable energy and fight against global warming. He also wants to pump a lot of money into the economy to drive demand and growth. Three other illustrious presidents complete this picture. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, the third, and Abraham Lincoln, who abolished slavery on the 16th.
Since we are in the symbols, the paintings of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton have been hung side by side. The two men were rivals. He did not have the same conception of federalism. According to the new president’s team, it is a matter of underlining to what extent “the differences of opinion, expressed within the framework of the Republic, are fundamental for democracy.” Another painting, another founding father, Benjamin Franklin, who would represent the new president’s interest in science.
Same office since Clinton
So there is something that does not change and perhaps the most important piece of furniture in this room is the office, the “resolved desk”. This office has not left the premises since the inauguration of Bill Clinton in 1993. You know there is a famous photo where you see JFK’s son John junior under the desk playing at his father’s feet. The “resolute desk” is so called because it comes from the wood of the ship that was used to make the Resolute, a British exploration ship. It sank on the ice pack in northern Canada. It was offered by Queen Victoria in 1880 to President Benjamin Hayes, to thank the United States for returning the ship.
Most presidents have used it, except for Lindon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and George Bush. One last word to tell you that behind this desk, Donald Trump had chosen to place the flags of the different branches of the army. Now there are two flags: an American flag and another with a presidential seal.