Jamie Stiehm at WaPo:
A mistake has been made in the Oval Office makeover that goes beyond the beige.
President Obama’s new presidential rug seemed beyond reproach, with quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. woven along its curved edge.
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” According media reports, this quote keeping Obama company on his wheat-colored carpet is from King.
Except it’s not a King quote. The words belong to a long-gone Bostonian champion of social progress. His roots in the republic ran so deep that his grandfather commanded the Minutemen at the Battle of Lexington.
For the record, Theodore Parker is your man, President Obama. Unless you’re fascinated by antebellum American reformers, you may not know of the lyrically gifted Parker, an abolitionist, Unitarian minister and Transcendentalist thinker who foresaw the end of slavery, though he did not live to see emancipation. He died at age 49 in 1860, on the eve of the Civil War.
A century later, during the civil rights movement, King, an admirer of Parker, quoted the Bostonian’s lofty prophecy during marches and speeches. Often he’d ask in a refrain, “How long? Not long.” He would finish in a flourish: “Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Tim Daniel at The Dally Caller:
A seemingly trivial error, or rug-gaffe, you could say, says a lot about our touted-genius president. Educated foolishness? The Manchurian Candidate? It’s another piece in the Obama puzzle that doesn’t fit.
This time last year I blogged about the “Nine Simple Truths,” a list of prescriptions that is often attributed to Abraham Lincoln. Recall, the “Lincoln” axiom goes like this:
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves
Back then I did a little research (when you could say that I was quite a bit less savvy, and perhaps even less “smart”) and found out that the above “Lincoln” adage is actually from William J.H. Boetcker.
Funny, isn’t it, that a blogger with some research/net skills can track down the actual source of a dictum or, in this case, a sort of urban-Americana poem credited to Honest Abe?
Obama’s rug burn moment isn’t a trillion-dollar deficit issue, but it is telling, nonetheless.
Warner Todd Huston at Gateway Pundit:
Parker was a staunch anti-slavery man who died just on the eve of the American civil war, a man involved in every reform effort of his day, quite a radical for his time. He even supported domestic terrorist John Brown and supplied money for guns to be used in the “Bloody Kansas” fights over slavery.
King admired this white man who fought to end slavery and used his phrase many times — with full attribution, of course.
Sadly, Obama and his rug makers did not do their due diligence and research these quotes properly because they’ve attributed Parker’s inspiring words to King.
This is just one more incident that lends credence to the feeling that Barack Obama has no real feel for America, no connection to her history, and no grasp of what it is to be American.
Like his mis-attributed quote, Barack Obama is only an inch deep American. Sure he and his slipshod researchers knew that there was some famous quote or another, but they just weren’t informed enough about America to get the source of that quote right.
Worse, it is a misappropriation of words connected to Martin Luther King, Jr., the one historical figure that this president aboce all should have taken care to get right.
Is this misquote the end of the world? No, of course not. But it is just another small piece of evidence that points to the fact that this president is essentially disconnected from the country he is supposed to be leading. Barack Obama really isn’t much of an American.
The error perfectly encapsulates the shallowness of Barack Obama’s intellect, and his lack of rigor. Obama is a man who accumulated academic credentials while giving no evidence whatsoever of achieving any depth. He was the only president of the Harvard Law Review to graduate without penning a signed article in that esteemed journal. His academic transcripts remain under lock and key, as do his academic papers.
For the sort of people like David Brooks of the New York Times, who are impressed by fancy degrees and a sharp crease in the trousers, Obama may appear to be the smartest ever occupant of the Oval Office. But, as the old joke goes, deep down, he is shallow. Underfoot, literally, there is woven into his background a prominent vein of phoniness.
For some reason or other, Obama has been able to skate through academia and politics without ever being seriously challenged to prove his depth. A simple veneer of glibness has been enough to win the accolades of the liberal intelligentsia. But now that he has actual responsibilities — including relatively trivial ones like custodianship of the inner sanctum of the presidency — his lack of substance keeps showing up in visible, embarrassing and troubling ways.
For the record, King never claimed the phrase as his own. He quoted Parker, one of his inspirations, in using this phrase, a point never noticed by Barack Obama during his campaign. He repeated the phrase often enough that it caught the attention of Reverend Matt Tittle, who attempted to inform the campaign in April 2008 that Obama was misattributing the quote. The campaign never replied to Tittle, but for a while Obama dropped the reference, and Tittle thought the message had been received.
When did this come out? Well, Tittle blogged about it in December 2008 at the Houston Chronicle. In July 2009, I wrote about it as an Obamateurism of the Day — and that was more than a year before the White House decided to commit their poor research into the press release for the Oval Office rug. When that happened, it became one of this week’s OOTDs, and will be one of the selections in tomorrow’s OOTW poll.
It’s nice of the Post to notice this, even if it ran on a Saturday, but perhaps they might credit Tittle, who first reported it.
Well, as Bob Hope said, “It’s not what we know, but what we know that ain’t so that gets us into trouble.” Or was that Will Rogers?
FWIW: Based on this picture of the carpet itself, none of the quotations are attributed, so the carpet won’t be sent back to rewrite.
And Dodd, with a nod to our video