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Federal employees battle over President Trump’s portrait

Federal employees battle over President Trump’s portrait

A snapshot of the struggle between voters and the bureaucracy

In my day job, I have a variety of clients requiring assistance with complex environmental health and safety regulations.  One of these organizations is part of a federal agency that is about to feel the full force of President Trump’s pen and phone. Many of the employees in that office are quite upset about the impending change in government policies.

A standard practice in federal government offices and military sites is to have an official portrait of the President of the United States (sometimes paired with one of the Vice President). An early step in the process of transition was the removal of the Obama/Biden portraits from installations and institutions.

When Obama took office in 2009, the federal government printed more than 130,000 official photographs of Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden, many of which were hung in over 7,000 federal installations around the world. Some were made available for the public to purchase, according to the federal agency that printed them, now known as the U.S. Government Publishing Office.

The agency will print the new pictures once it receives them, along with instructions, from the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal agency that manages thousands of buildings and which, in turn, must wait for the White House to provide the photos. Spokesmen for both agencies told ABC News said they did not yet know the total number of photos that will be printed this year.

The official portrait of President Trump arrived at the local office, and there has been an epic battle between the small contingent of Trump-supporters in the facility and their more numerous anti-Trump colleagues ever since:

1) President Trump’s photo is hung.
2) Anti-Trump employees complain.
3) One of the “safe space” whiners removes the photo.
4) Trump-supporting employee either locates the photo or prepares a new one.
5) Go back to Step 1.

A very heartening aspect of this battle is that President Trump’s “honey badger” attitude is taking hold among the independent conservatives, Republicans, and disaffected Democrats throughout this nation are fighting back at the progressive protests in fun, creative ways. For those of you unfamiliar with the honey badger, it is known as the most fearless animal on the planet.

In a way, this fight underscores the point made by Washington Free Beacon‘s Matthew Continetti, who asks, “Who Rules the United States?”

Continetti sees a struggle between the nation’s voters and its bureaucrats:

…The last few weeks have confirmed that there are two systems of government in the United States. The first is the system of government outlined in the U.S. Constitution—its checks, its balances, its dispersion of power, its protection of individual rights. Donald Trump was elected to serve four years as the chief executive of this system. Whether you like it or not.

The second system is comprised of those elements not expressly addressed by the Founders. This is the permanent government, the so-called administrative state of bureaucracies, agencies, quasi-public organizations, and regulatory bodies and commissions, of rule-writers and the byzantine network of administrative law courts. This is the government of unelected judges with lifetime appointments who, far from comprising the “least dangerous branch,” now presume to think they know more about America’s national security interests than the man elected as commander in chief.

For some time, especially during Democratic presidencies, the second system of government was able to live with the first one. But that time has ended.

My suggestion is that if you have ever been in a federal office or other government location that previously showcased the official portraits of President Obama, check to determine if President Trump’s photos are now hanging there instead. If not, you know you’re probably in an office in which the employees believe they rule you rather than the other way around.


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Subotai Bahadur | February 19, 2017 at 8:37 pm

I realize that pretty much every manager and supervisor in the Federal bureaucracy deems the election of Trump illegitimate and that Obama is the “One True Messiah”, but there have to be some Federal regulations against either unauthorized appropriation of government property [theft] or vandalism. Some people being charged even if only for nuisance value would be pleasant.

If I were to walk into a Federal office, and spot an unchanged Presidential Portrait, or a blank spot where the portrait used to be, I might be inclined to send an email to, because anybody that blatantly out of line is unlikely to be doing their job properly, in the first place.

    So you actually expect the government to be highly-efficient in its ability to take, clean up, print, distribute, and display a physical photograph in a process that only takes place every 4/8 years, when they can’t do things they are supposed to be doing every day?

    In most offices outside of D.C. I really don’t expect to see the official portrait until March. In many cases, they’ll have to go buy a new frame, because it’s going to be yuuuge. (snerk)

    Until then, there’s a perfectly good picture for the office to put up in its place.

Over the last eight years, in addition to the official portrait, many government offices prominently displayed the soviet-style Obama poster – which clearly told you where you the citizen stood.

I will ask to speak to ever is running the joint and demand President Trumps picture be front and center.

Government employees don’t get to decide if the President’s portrait hangs on the wall. If they don’t like it, they can quit. The sooner, the better.

Obama picture gone, but still waiting for the Trump picture. Going to salute every time I go by!

That’s funny. Listen, if they actually help Trump cut our taxes & spending by, they can put up a picture of Harry Potter for all I care. And if they don’t, they can put up whatever picture they want at their new job.

“For those of you unfamiliar with the honey badger, it is known as the most fearless animal on the planet.”

After Chuck Norris. FIFY.

So, they’ve identified themselves.

That should simplify things.

I’ve been told that late February/early March is when the new portraits will be up. Later than that = shenanigans. I’m in a pool betting on shenanigans.

I did a little checking locally last week. The ‘official presidential portrait’ along with whatever agency heads go on the wall in a place ‘easily accessible to the public’ or in this case, the spot right in front of the first entry door. On inauguration day, the previous pictures are taken down, in this case, President, Department head, and Agency head. With Bush, it was President, VP, and Department head. With Reagan, it was President and Department head, I believe, but I’m getting off topic.

Being the government, whenever a new president takes office, it takes time to get his/her official portrait completed, sent to be printed in the 3-5 sizes available, and distributed to the offices. In this office, the Dept. head (Sonny Perdue) has not even had a confirmation hearing scheduled, after which he’s going to have to go through all that before his picture goes out (and they normally ship them together to save postage, because in some cases, the gov. can be exceedingly cheap). To top it, every new picture is *always* a different size than the ones before (God forbid we standardize anything). They took the back off the previous president portrait for me to show every president the office had been under since Nixon, all matted with paper so they would fit into the frame.

Needless to say, Trump has only been in office a *month* and I really hope they can catch him smiling instead of that habitual frown.

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | February 20, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Yay! Hooray!

RE: “A very heartening aspect of this battle is that President Trump’s “honey badger” attitude is taking hold among the independent conservatives, Republicans, and disaffected Democrats throughout this nation are fighting back at the progressive protests in fun, creative ways.”

buckeyeminuteman | February 20, 2017 at 12:57 pm

It was a long 8 years walking by Obama’s photo in every building on every base I went to during that time. But on 20 Jan 2017 I didn’t wait for any Admin types in my building to do what I’ve wanted to for so long. I ripped zero’s out and printed my own Trump photo from the web and put it in the frame myself. Apparently, nobody has a problem with that. While I didn’t like anything about Obama his photo hung on the wall and there was nothing I could do about it. The same is true now, get over yourselves.

the local VA had shithead’s photo up until i bitched about it several weeks after the inauguration…

next time i go there, ima do this:

Conservative0317 | February 21, 2017 at 11:34 am

I have a suggestion. After step 4:
“4) Trump-supporting employee either locates the photo or prepares a new one.”

Insert step 4a:

“4a) Using eight 2 inch deck screws, secure the portrait in place by driving the screws through the frame.”