The Bust Lies Busted

Recall President Obama, through his Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer, vehemently denying that he had returned the bust of Winston Churchill that had been in his (nee President Bush the Younger’s) Oval Office setup.  ObamaPfeiffer responded to a Charles Krauthammer column last week that mentioned the return in passing by accusing Krauthammer of lying and doing so with a lie of his own.

[N]ormally we wouldn’t address a rumor that’s so patently false, but just this morning the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer repeated this ridiculous claim in his column.  He said President Obama “started his Presidency by returning to the British Embassy the bust of Winston Churchill that had graced the Oval Office.”

This is 100% false.  The bust still in the White House.  In the Residence.  Outside the Treaty Room.

When the facts came out, and…Pfeiffer’s…lie was exposed, he attempted to backtrack and emailed Krauthammer this:


I take your criticism seriously and you are correct that you are owed an apology.  There was clearly an internal confusion about the two busts and there was no intention to deceive.  I clearly overshot the runway in my post.  The point I was trying to make – under the belief that the Bust in the residence was the one previously in the Oval Office– was that this oft repeated talking point about the bust being a symbol of President Obama’s failure to appreciate the special relationship is false.   The bust that was returned was returned as a matter of course with all the other artwork that had been loaned to President Bush for display in his Oval Office and not something that President Obama or his Administration chose to do.  I still think this is an important point and one I wish I had communicated better.

A better understanding of the facts on my part and a couple of deep breaths at the outset would have prevented this situation.  Having said all that, barring a miracle comeback from the Phillies I would like to see the Nats win a world series even if it comes after my apology


Dan Pfeiffer

He got one thing right: Krauthammer is “owed an apology.”  My question is this: when will one be made?  This email plainly isn’t it.  The White House called Krauthammer a liar and backed up that scurrility with a lie of its own.

This email acknowledges an apology being due.  It makes an unsubstantiated claim of intent.  But the rest of this is just a string of “clarifications” and changes of subject.  There’s not a single word of apology.  Not even an expression of regret for his error.

Separately, I do sympathize with the Nationals, who apparently are destined never to win a World Series.

Finally, I should point out that Krauthammer has accepted the apology.

Well, I must say it was a gracious apology.  I was stunned.  I didn’t expect it to happen.  I actually wrote in my column that I thought the Nationals would win the World Series before I’d see an apology.  So, now I suppose the Nationals are going to win the World Series.  But it was a gracious apology.  They are still clinging to a tiny point on this but the argument is over.  I appreciate that the correction and retraction.

If the victim is happy, then the argument is concluded.  Except for the Nationals’ future.

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