Evicted from President Biden’s sight is the bust of arch imperialist and India-hater Winston Churchill, a hero to Donald Trump, who had brought him back to the Oval Office after President Obama had ousted him. Also ejected is another Trump idol, Andrew Jackson, the 7th US President, whose forced march and relocation of 100,000 Native Americans resulted in a “trail of tears” that killed thousands.
Coming in to the Oval Office are Martin Luther King Jr, firebrand Latino Union leader Cesar Chavez, and civil rights icon Rosa Parks, all admirers of Churchill’s arch enemy Mahatma Gandhi, all seen as “socialist radicals,” and all heroes to Biden’s vice-president Kamala Harris.
Chavez, dubbed a Californian Gandhi for his methods (fasting, non-violent protests etc) is particularly close to Kamala Harris’ heart. He was co-founder of the United Farm Workers (UFW) labor union which has had long-standing ties to Harris and backed her Presidential campaign (Chavez died in 1993, but Dolores Huertas, another storied co-founder, endorsed Harris).
Chavez’s granddaughter Julie Chávez Rodriguez was a Kamala Harris staffer going back to 2016 and later served on Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign before she was hired by the Biden campaign as senior advisor for Latino outreach after Harris dropped out. Biden has now appointed her to be the director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
The makeover has agitated Trumpublicans and conservatives — who have long chafed about a “socialist” takeover of the White House — including some from across the pond. “If true, this (the removal of the Churchill bust) is a slap in the face to the British and any prospects of good relations,” Trump flunkey and Brexit hero Nigel Farage tweeted.
The bust of Churchill, — who some historians view as a racist imperialist whose actions or inaction resulted in the 1943 Bengal famine that killed 2+ million — has had a simple political history with the White House: Republicans love it and Democrats despise it. It was gifted by Tony Blair to George Bush, who placed it in the Oval Office. Moved out by Barack Obama (who incidentally brought in a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi), it was brought back by Trump, only to be put out again by Biden.
On Thursday, Downing Street, whose Conservative Prime Ministers have lathered up Republican US Presidents, none more than Boris Johnson, said through a spokesman that “The Oval Office is the President’s private office, and it’s up to the President to decorate it as he wishes.”