— Jon McNaughton (@McNaughtonArt) November 9, 2016
Whether Donald Trump — who is somehow now America’s president-elect — likes it or not, come January, he will have to move out of his glitzy, gold-washed penthouse in Trump Tower to live in the White House. Aside from the most pressing question of how Trump, whose most successful role as a leader may be as the former host of The Apprentice, will run this nation, we can’t help but wonder what interior decorating tragedies he will inflict on the presidential residence, which we should maybe just refer to as the White Nationalist House from now on.
An early clue arrives from the Utah-based artist Jon McNaughton, who earlier this month, in brighter days so pregnant with hope, shared that Fox News host Sean Hannity purchased a painting of his “to give to President Trump to hang in the White House.” The 2010 work, “The Forgotten Man,” shows a dejected man on a bench in front of the White House, surrounded by every one of America’s past presidents. Standing near him in the foreground is Obama — then nearly halfway into his first term — staring proudly beyond the frame, his arms crossed and foot planted firmly on a wrinkled Constitution. Littering the ground, too, are crumpled dollar bills.
In McNaughton’s words, from his online description of the work: “I wanted to paint a picture that portrays the plight of the common man. Perhaps the [Forgotten Man] is already experiencing this now or will in the future. My hope is that he will ‘wake up!’ now before it is too late.” Well, it looks like the joke’s on us in 2016, as America woke up last week in a nightmare we now have to fight hard to end.
Hannity confirmed that he had purchased the painting, adding that he was “honored” to have acquired a work that “captures what this election was all about.” He added that the “alt left radical media is dying to know” if he is indeed gifting the painting to Trump, but refused to comment further, simply tweeting an image of the work. Will the painting eventually hang on a newly gilded wall beneath — as recently published photos of his penthouse suggest — a freshly painted ceiling fresco of Greek gods? Perhaps it will hang alongside some of Renoir’s least celebrated works, or whatever paintings or sculptures that, together, immediately scream “I AM YOUR 21ST-CENTURY SUN KING.”
As Slate‘s Juliet Lapidos explained, Congress allocates money every four years for the building’s redecoration, and the presidential couple has the power to purchase new furniture and repaint rooms. Changes to historic suites, though, do have to receive the green light from the Committee for the Preservation of the White House, which was established in 1964 by Executive Order.
Trump — who is more concerned with what the New York Times is saying about him than with the spike in hate crimes across the country in this past week alone (“Stop it,” he said to his racist supporters, like a mother attempting to quell kids fighting over the final slice of pie) — may eventually transform the White House into a literal presidential palace. But what would be much more devastating than bad art inside the Neoclassical residence may be what Trump orders to occur on its grounds outside. Earlier this month, Obama expressed worry that the bigoted Cheeto will “dig up Michelle’s [vegetable] garden,” upon which she has built a worthy campaign to advocate for a healthier nation. If Trump, as Ann Coulter so “respectfully” suggested, does raze the garden to hold a backyard putting green — an act we really can’t put past a man who loves a good, wind turbine-free golf course — the gesture would be incredibly representative of the presidential handover: a huge leap from class to utter crassness.
Update, 11/18: In a subsequent tweet, Hannity revealed that he will not actually give McNaughton’s painting to Trump.
Correction: A previous version of this article featured the headline “Fox News Host Buys an Anti-Obama Painting for Donald Trump,” but this has been changed to reflect Sean Hannity’s revelation that he will not gift the painting to Trump.