Typical of the new White House, it took three weeks for Donald Trump’s staff to learn how the light switches in the cabinet room work.
Seven months later, Trump’s White House has still not delivered official portraits of the president and vice president to the agency that distributes copies to federal buildings for display.
Typical of this administration, the only step taken so far in the usual process of replacing the portraits is erasure of the first black presidency.
According to the Washington Post, the Government Publishing Office is still waiting for images to replace photos of Barack Obama and Joe Biden that went up three months after their swearing in and were taken down on Inauguration Day 2017.
The unusually-long delay is all the more ironic given how this president craves celebrity. “You would think Trump would want his portrait spattered all over federal buildings,” presidential historian David Brinkley observes to the Post.
Desperate for something to display, local offices have been downloading a White House image of Trump wearing the severe expression he projected on “The Apprentice.”
Michael Beschloss, another presidential historian, said the administration may just keep the makeshift image in place as a reflection of Trump’s view of the bureaucracy. “This act is intended to convey, deliberately or not, a president who wants to stand at one remove from his own federal government,” Beschloss said.
“If you look at official presidential portraits of the past half-century, the expression in virtually all of them is smiling or at least pleasant,” he said. “This one has a very fierce look, as if he wants to make sure that the world knows that he is a very tough guy.”
Also typical of this president, some cabinet secretaries reportedly fear to have their own official portraits posted “because they don’t want to upstage the president” — one of the few crimes that can actually get someone fired from Trump’s White House.
Only the Department of Veterans Affairs has moved forward in a comprehensive fashion. The temporary photos “demonstrate a clear chain of command and respect for our Veterans,” said VA Secretary David Shulkin in a statement.
He is the rare career civil servant in Trump’s cabinet of culture warriors, retired generals, and celebrity conservatives.
Does Jared Kushner know how to turn on the lights in the Cabinet room yet? Can Donald Trump and Mike Pence get their portrait act together before Robert Mueller charges them with obstruction of justice? Stay tuned for the exciting new season of ‘Presidential Apprentice!’
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