The White House is a home for temporary residents, an office building and importantly, a museum.
And now, in addition to all that, there’s The Republican Club, a portrait of Republican presidents from years past laughing around a table of drinks, sprung from the imagination of Missouri artist Andy Thomas. Without veering into actual art criticism, here’s something similar, a sort of political criticism of the work.
What’s it mean that it’s in the White House?
The portrait was spotted in an image tweeted by 60 Minutes before their report featuring an interview of President Trump by reporter Lesley Stahl. It’s not entirely clear which room the painting is in, although it does feature a large pile of official-looking documents, a DirecTV remote and a large glass jar of Starburst. This could very well be a room where Trump spends some time. We can infer, therefore, that Trump doesn’t mind seeing himself in the company of other Republican luminaries. In fact, we know that he likes to size his own popularity up to other presidents, particularly Republicans. He’s claimed he’s more popular than Abraham Lincoln, which is an impossible thing to verify since modern polling didn’t exist in the 1860s.
How did it get there?
Who is the woman?
What’s Trump’s role at the table?
Trump probably likes that he’s the center of attention in the painting. He’s right of center, and the current President’s stark white shirt and Republican red tie stick out. It is a bit odd that he’s not wearing his jacket, since most of the time he’s photographed he’s wearing it. Trump appears to be looking at Abraham Lincoln, who, interestingly, is arguably the greatest Republican president. You could take from the painting that Lincoln is telling a story that’s amusing everyone, although Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush appear to be looking directly at Nixon. It’s also interesting that Nixon gets a spot at the table, despite his disgrace and resignation.
Who doesn’t get a seat at the table?
There have been 19 Republican presidents, but only seven get seats at the table in this painting. All of the presidents at the table were elected to two terms, except Roosevelt, who was elected once but served two full terms after William McKinley’s assassination.
Gerald Ford, who was never elected, is nonetheless still prominent, right behind Trump. Others, like George H.W. Bush and Calvin Coolidge seem to want a little more respect.
Faces that appear to be Ulysses Grant, Warren Harding and Herbert Hoover are like wisps of memory and William Howard Taft, if that is him, is nearly impossible to make out. Chester Arthur, Rutherford B. Hayes and James Garfield are presumably in the crowd, but impossible to identify.
H.W. Bush and Ford, while not at the table, are in on the joke, whatever it is, that Lincoln or maybe Nixon is telling. Everyone else doesn’t seem to be in much of a good mood at all.
The drinks are telling
Roosevelt, who faced accusations of alcoholism during his presidency but denied them vigorously, has a metal glass of some kind. Eisenhower has a tumbler, perhaps of scotch. Lincoln’s glass is taller like Trump’s, but it’s empty. Water? Reagan has another tall glass, but it has something red and perhaps a lemon in it. This is a mystery.
So many mysteries. Not the least of which is, what would Lincoln tell Trump about being President if they could sit down together and share a Coke (and a water)?