interior devastation

Gay Designer Michael Smith Taints Obama’s Oval Office With Stolen MLK Quote

While fancypants interior decorator Michael Smith won’t say how much he spent redesigning (or anything else about) Barack Obama‘s Oval Office makeover, maybe he should reveal where he looked for historical facts. Because that quote he’s got laid in the carpet? The one attributed to Martin Luther King Jr.? It’s kinda doesn’t belong to MLK.

Jame Stiehm corrects the record:

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.” King made no secret of the author of this idea. As a Baptist preacher on the front lines of racial justice, he regarded Parker, a religious leader, as a kindred spirit.

Which means Obama is now walking around a carpet that has the historical accuracy of Glenn Beck.

Historical accuracy aside, guess who doesn’t like Barack’s new digs? Mr. Mo Rocca.


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  • SteamPunk

    Funny enough, that famous line on the rug that people throw around is actually a misquote – a big ol’ paraphrase. Neither men said exactly that.

    Until now, I’ve been able to put that out of my head, the same way I did with everyone misquoting Mae West. Because, you know, they’re of equal importance :)

  • Sceth

    I concur that it “tries too hard to say nothing.” Also, I hate neutrals.


    Pleeezzzeee…..If Dr. King used the quote multiple times giving proper credit to its origin and it was revelant there is no harm in linking it to him ………

    What I find a true fraud is the supposed homosexuality of the designer……. Beige on beige?? Lordy, if that doesn’t scream out “GW BUSH”, what does…..

    What proper homosexual designer would create such an explosion of bland????? :p

  • ron

    The wallpaper is OK, but everything else has got to go. If you want a beige and blue scheme there should be more blue. Any maybe some pattern. The rug, no matter who the quotes are from, is awful. The whole room is restrained to the point of blah. No personality. They’d have been better off going to Restoration Hardware….

  • Patrick

    It is hideous, especially the cheap looking couch. But no worry, it along with its owner will be gone soon – along with our hopes and dreams.

  • Justin O.

    Holy fact checking Queerty!

    Theodore Parker never said “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” King did. Parker came up with the idea, but King figured out how to express it in an eloquent way. It’s like saying you can’t attribute “I am not a crook” to Richard Nixon just because other people in the past have also claimed that they weren’t crooks.

    Not to mention, the rug doesn’t attribute the quote to anyone. It just says the quote, no attribution. So how can it mis-attribute the quote when there is NO attribution?

    I really expect better, Queerty. With so many great things to criticize Obama for, why are we wasting our time making stuff up?

  • pete

    Michael Smith usually does better work than this. You have to wonder who made the decisions and how much input the Obamas even had in this unfortunate redo.

  • Dan in Paris

    I prefer President Jed Bartlett’s Oval Office decor! It was much more PRESIDENTIAL. Impressive and awe-inspiring. Where is our Jed Bartlett today??

  • L.

    If the story holds, it would be a misattributed quote, not a stolen one.

    How’s that for glennbesque accuracy, eh.

  • Ben

    Is this to divert attention from the new La-Z-Boy showroom at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

  • Ben

    Stolen quotes? I’m boycotting all future invitations to the Oval Office.

  • Pip

    Its appropriate for our President. Remember Hillary’s “change you can Xerox” line at the California debate? Barack quoted my governor (fellow black political pioneer Deval Patrick) without attribution as well.

  • Al

    Not exactly breaking news.

    I don’t believe the quotes woven into the rug give attribution to the authors.

    This is certainly a disappointing makeover for such an historic office, especially since it’s the Oval Office of our Country’s first black president.

    One wonders whether the disappointment is due to the influence of the designer or the client. Perhaps a little of both.

    Where was Nate Berkus when he was needed?

  • Tessie Tura

    Given that MLK was so fond of plagiarism (yes, I said it!) – the “I have a Dream” speech was cribbed from the book of Isaiah, and therefore parts of it appear in the tenor aria “Every valley shall be exalted” in Handel’s Messiah, perhaps MLK did “make this up” at some point.

  • StyleBoy

    This is really an unfair post – Michael Smith was obviously doing the president’s bidding here – a look at his other work confirms his talent. And for all the comment on the president’s office (and I don’t like it much either), in the end I have to agree with those who have said if this is how he wants his office to look and how he feels comfortable then it’s really none of our business. But where I think the story really gets it wrong is when it implies that it is Mr. Smith’s job to research and vet the quotes – a smart person would assume the president’s staff in the West Wing would be the authority. Mr. Smith is a decorator not a copy editor.

  • L.

    @Tessie Tura: Given that every one of the words you used appears in Merriam-Webster’s, maybe you shouldn’t throw stones from your glass house.

  • REBELComx

    Well the carpet itself doesn’t make a point of actually claiming who said what. So it doesn’t really matter who the hell said it.

  • S

    The phrase “Much Ado About Nothing” comes to mind.

  • whatever

    Racist gays having a field day with this one. They get to bash MLK as a plagiarist and the President. PUMA-tards of course get in on the action.

    Good job, queertard editors!

  • randy

    The designer doesn’t have to be a copy editor, but for such a high profile job, any mistakes will be attributed to him, and that can hurt future business. If it were me, I would be hovering in the factory triple checking the spelling as it’s woven.

    I don’t care if this is Obama’s taste — if the designer really felt it was too blad, he should have resigned and let someone else do the job. Again, too high profile to just say, gosh, I just did the client’s bidding. Any regular viewer of Project Runway knows that you must carefully balance your identity with the wishes of the client.

    I appreciate the nod to modernism with the coffee table, but the bowl of fruit? A splash of seasonal color from flowers would have been much more appropriate. No one is going to help themselves to an apple while talking to the President, so it’s a pointless gesture.

    I agree with Mo – we don’t want bland, we want something that quietly affirms American’s confidence. It doesn’t matter what Obama wants — he can decorate the private suites of the WH any way his wishes, but the Oval Office belongs to the People, and is shown too often in public.

  • randy

    As a practical matter, that the designer should have warned Obama, is that when you have a rug with a bold seal in the middle and words on the edge, is that people will look down on it and avoid stepping on those parts so as to avoid soiling the decorative elements. (It also seems a little disrespectful to step on those things). That creates awkward movements as people jostle and try to avoid stepping here and there, all the while trying to shake hands or move around. People are already nervous entering the oval office, and now you make them even more self-conscious by putting this on the floor.

    Bad move!

  • ossurworld

    He’s a decorator, not a research analyst. LOL.

  • Tofer David

    Not for nothing but mLk’s doctoral dissertation is a proven plagiarism not that he wasn’t a great transformational leader

  • Michael

    What’s the message printed on the welcome mat at the front door? Any ideas?

  • [email protected]


    at least this error cannot disgrace mlk more than hobama starving poor people to fatten banksters does!

  • BlogShag

    Who cares? And Taylor on more than one occasion showing up as Doogie Howser’s date to the Academy Awards… Things that make you go, “Hmmm.”

  • Jack

    No. 25: could you repost your comment using standard written English and grammar, thanks.

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