Office Politics


The changing of the guard at the White House extends to the decor of the Oval Office itself. The Bush look is marked by a toned-down palette, most noticeably in the pale colors of the signature eagle-adorned carpet. Where President Clinton's office was marked by a bright royal blue, President George W. Bush has reinstated the light-colored rug once used by Ronald Reagan.

Before moving in, each president gets to personally choose from notebooks full of available decorative elements in the White House collection. The rug chosen by Bush, as described by the White House curator's office, has a presidential coat of arms of gold, brown and green on a light terra cotta ground. "There is a field of radiating gray flutes, a primary border of green olive branches and gray and gold rosettes, and a secondary border of gold guilloche."

Before the inauguration, the first-couple-to-be scoured the full White House inventory of art and antiques to make their choices. "President and Mrs. Bush did this together," according to a Bush aide. Although the decoration of the Oval Office is still in the preliminary stages, many dramatic alterations already are in place, including replacing Clinton's candy-striped sofas with two ivory-toned upholstered couches.


The artwork has changed as well. A portrait of Andrew Jackson was replaced by one of Abraham Lincoln by George Story, which was previously in the Cabinet Room. Also added is a painting called "A Charge to Keep" by William Henry David Koerner, which once hung in Bush's gubernatorial office. A bust of David D. Eisenhower that used to be outside the diplomatic reception room is now inside the Oval Office.

One new painting is "Pointe Lobos, Monterey, California" by Thomas Moran. Frederick Remington's famous "Bronco Buster," which has been in the Oval Office since 1973, stayed put. Bush also installed the paintings "Pastoral Landscape" by Alvan Fisher, which had been in storage, as well as "City of Washington From Beyond the Navy Yard" by George Cooke, which hung in the Oval Office until Clinton had it removed a year ago. Bush asked for it to be returned. He also had a bust of Lincoln brought in from just outside the Oval Office. Remaining are a bust of Benjamin Franklin and a portrait of George Washington installed by the elder President Bush that Clinton kept in place.


One key feature that hasn't moved is "The Resolute," the desk that President John F. Kennedy used. It was a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Directly behind the desk is a series of windows covered by the gold damask draperies from the Clinton administration. Their fate remains uncertain.

A few new personal touches also are in evidence. A pair of authentic cowboy spurs adorns a chest of drawers. On the credenza behind the president's desk are a series of framed pictures of the Bush family, a crystal gavel with a State of Texas seal, a mahogany box, and a message clip that looks like a large brass paper clip whose base is adorned with a Texas flag and the words "God Bless Texas."

For the Record Los Angeles Times Friday February 2, 2001 Home Edition Southern California Living Part E Page 3 View Desk 1 inches; 17 words Type of Material: Correction Oval Office--An article Thursday on the Oval Office misidentified the subject of a sculpture; it was Dwight D. Eisenhower.
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