President (damn right) Joe Biden arrived at the White House Wednesday after what we hope was an extensive fumigation process. Between all the coronavirus outbreaks and the festering evil, they needed an exorcist in a hazmat suit, spraying everything down with a mix of bleach and holy water.

Biden got to work quickly, signing 15 executive orders that rolled back some of the previous administration's bigoted, anti-science policies. We'll go over those in more happy detail in another post. It was just wonderful to see an actual president behind the Resolute desk who's working for the American people and not undermining democracy.

Biden brought his own chair from his basement, right? If he sat in that other guy's chair, it might swallow him whole like Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors.


On the table behind Biden are photos of his family, and I don't mean in the organized crime sense. This is a welcome change. The photo of Biden with his late son, Beau, is especially touching. Among the photos is a bust of American labor leader César Chávez. Sean Hannity will probably tell your Republican relatives that the bust is of Hugo Chávez, who apparently faked his death in 2013 so he could secretly help Biden rig the presidential election. When Biden presses a hidden button on the Chávez bust, a panel in the Oval Office bookshelf opens, revealing the secret entrance to the Commie Cave.

The Washington Post had briefly identified the bust as one of Eleanor Roosevelt — no, seriously. The joke options here are like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

Washington Post

The correction is adorable. The Post probably wishes we thought the earlier photo caption misidentified the bust as Hugo Chávez. Cesar Romero would be less embarrassing.

The Oval Office decor was revamped on Wednesday. The household staff moved quickly, like your recently divorced friend when they delete all their ex's photos from Instagram. Biden wanted his office to reflect an America beyond what's depicted in an old John Wayne movie. There are busts of Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, and the actual, for real, Eleanor Roosevelt. A painting of Benjamin Franklin, scientist and philosopher, has replaced the once prominently displayed image of genocidal crackpot Andrew Jackson. Gone also is the bust of Confederate General Negro Slave Catcher, who didn't exist but was a featured player in bedtime stories Stephen Miller used to tell the thing that once squatted in the White House.

Biden has often spoken of how Dr. King and Kennedy inspired him, not because of the victories won on a battlefield but the compassion shown for their fellow Americans. Both men were assassinated within a few months of each other in 1968. This is a sacrifice we hope no leader must make again.

The president's commitment to unity is also evident in his aesthetic choices. Paintings of Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton hang next to each other, so Jefferson can easily rib Hamilton about how he was never president.

The two men frequently disagreed and were placed together to illustrate the benefits that come from differing views.

Biden's office said the paintings were twinned as "hallmarks of how differences of opinion, expressed within the guardrails of the Republic, are essential to democracy."

The "guardrails of the Republic" comment is telling. Democratic Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abigail Spanberger have differing views but they ultimately still believe in democracy. There's a reason Hamilton's painting isn't chilling next to Aaron Burr's, who Hamilton called "a dangerous man, and one who ought not to be trusted with the reins of government." This aptly describes the last occupant of the Oval Office, and no “benefits" were illustrated from his presence.

[Washington Post]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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