Monday, February 16, 2009

7/16 changed everything

The reliability with which US conservative blogs feature "outrageous" items sourced to UK newspapers such as the Telegraph and Mail suggests that there is a service which e-mails the links to likely users. The blogs get a faux-authoritative rhetorical casus belli and the UK papers get links and hits.

Step forward National Review's K-Lo stirring outrage with Telegraph news the Obama White House is "sending back" a bust of Winston Churchill that had been in the Bush White House. Now leave aside that Obama would be quite right to dump a symbol of the historical preening that went on with his predecessor. How much of the story (cited uncritically by Josh Marshall) is true? --

A British Embassy spokesman said: "The bust of Sir Winston Churchill by Sir Jacob Epstein was uniquely lent to a foreign head of state, President George W Bush, from the Government Art Collection in the wake of 9/11 as a signal of the strong transatlantic relationship.

The above is a picture of George Bush accepting the bust -- on 16 July 2001, nearly 2 months before 9/11. So the part about the bust going back as the end of a loan is probably true. The part about how the loan started is false. And the truth is that the loan was a personal choice of George Bush, before 9/11, and one which suggested that he had in mind being a wartime president well before 9/11 became the excuse for it.

UPDATE: As regular as clockwork, the "outrage" pump has been cranked--

Obama Throws Churchill Out of Oval Office [Nile Gardiner] ... The bust was loaned to the White House in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks as a demonstration of solidarity with the United States. Obama’s surprise decision to send Churchill home is both wrong-headed and crassly insensitive towards America’s closest ally, coming at a time when nearly 9,000 British troops are fighting alongside their American counterparts in Afghanistan ... Nile Gardiner is the director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation.

Who knew that the Special Relationship could be derailed by a bust?

FINAL UPDATE: 10 months after the original story, Nile Gardiner is still shopping it to a receptive John Steele Gordon, including the factually incorrect claim that the bust was given to the White House after 9/11.

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