Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer took a victory lap Sunday evening after White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer’s claim that the White House did not return a Winston Churchill bust to the British Embassy was discredited.
“I suggest Mr. Pfeiffer bring this to a short, painless and honorable conclusion: a simple admission that he got it wrong and that my assertion was correct,” Krauthammer wrote in a Sunday evening blog post. “An apology would be nice, but given this White House’s arm’s-length relationship with truth — and given Ryan Zimmerman’s hot hitting — I reckon the Nationals will win the World Series before I receive Pfeiffer’s mea culpa.”
In his Friday column, Krauthammer used President Barack Obama’s decision to return a Churchill likeness to the British Embassy as an anecdote for ways that Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney could say that he is better for Britain than Obama.
Pfeiffer responded by posting a photo to the White House blog of British Prime Minister David Cameron and Obama examining a bust of Churchill in the White House in July 2010 and saying that Krauthammer’s claim was “ridiculous.”
But the British Embassy confirmed Sunday in a statement that the Churchill look-alike Krauthammer was referring to is in the British ambassador’s residence in Washington, not in the White House.
It turns out there are two Churchill busts, one that had been in the White House since the 1960s and another that Prime Minister Tony Blair loaned President George W. Bush at the outset of the Bush administration. Pfeiffer admitted as much in an update to his blog post. Obama returned the loaned bust to the Brits when he moved into the White House, and the original bust was moved to the White House residence, where it is today.
Pfeiffer said it is customary for loaned art from the previous administration to be removed when a new president takes office.
“The idea put forward by Charles Krauthammer and others that President Obama returned the Churchill bust or refused to display the bust because of antipathy towards the British is completely false and an urban legend that continues to circulate to this day,” Pfeiffer wrote.