[even when the country isn't]
Having foregone, at the time of his inauguration/coronation/immaculation, any major re-do of his new office digs
[other than a couple of painting-swaps, and the chucking out of surplus metalwork like that gritty old bust of Churchill that went back to the British faster than Jerry Seinfeld could regift a label-maker],Il Duce, El Presidentissimi, POTUS POTENTATUS, The One, Mr. Barack Hoover Obama chose this particular moment in the economic indicator trough to redecorate the Oval Office. Another brilliant kamikaze move in the dogfight of American politics.
Successful? I guess that depends on what you want in a presidential office.
The rug went from a bright and perky Laura Bush design (which remains a universal favourite) to a bland and rather timid crème with no brulée, encircled by famous fine words seemingly rendered into Great American Sound Bytes from (or maybe not?) four presidents and Dr. MLK.
The central furniture cluster went from upbeat but formal reception seating, to a woman's idea of a man's den furniture for watching his 80-inch plasma screen TV with the guys.
Whatever. I don't really care that much myself. I can't say the new look is any worse than Bush 41's blue boudoir look, and it's certainly less crass the Clinton's eye-splitting navy blue rug with red and gold striped couches, which bore an uncomfortable resemblance to Richard Nixon's imperial style.
It's not necessary to redecorate for every new president -- it has not been done consistently enough to call it a tradition. But let him have his Swinging Bachelor Pad. I'm kind of grateful to see what he (well, his wife) chose, and how it reflects something about him/them.
But what's really fun about this episode, really RICH, is the basket of responses on the New York Times (!) Home and Garden page, in an article that takes its title from Arianna Huffington's (!) assessment of the new look:
The Audacity of Taupe.
Heh. I admit it -- I'm enjoying this.
...But I really hate that coffee table.
And the lamps.
And none of the stuff goes with that hotel-chain lobby wallpaper, which is only there to be a sop to the inescapable neo-classicism of the room and the formality of the grandfather clock. Gross. Let's hope somebody else goes back to the storerooms (which are jampacked) and recycles some of the better furniture in January 2013.
Most fun tidbit of all: reading about this whole Oval Office decor thing permitted me to discover that LBJ had covered the floor with wood-pattern linoleum. Didn't you just know he, of all people, would do that?