News & Politics

Trump's Official Smithsonian Portrait Unveiled and It's Everything You Wanted It to Be

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

I’m not at all surprised that the official commissioned portrait of Donald Trump that will hang in the Smithsonian is dignified and full of American symbolism, but I am flabbergasted that the Washington Post said nice things about it. Maybe they just remember how hard it was to say something positive about Barack Obama’s portrait, where he has a sixth finger and is sitting in some shrubbery. Remember that?

The Washington Post positively gushed over Trump’s pick for the official portrait.

His portrait of Trump has both artistic and historic merit, Ureña said. “I like the composition of the photograph,” she said of Dukovic’s image. “It is an angle we don’t often see. You get a little bit of the other side and what’s behind the desk.”

The photograph’s historical details include flags along the wall representing the five branches of the armed forces, a portrait of Andrew Jackson and one of Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Duplessis that the museum loaned to the White House. These reflect Trump’s interests and influences, Ureña said. The photograph was taken the day before Trump officially announced he would seek reelection, adding to its historical value, Ureña said.

“We want to not only depict the individual,” she said, “but also bring as much history as much context as possible.”

Someone should check on the staff writers to see if they’re okay and not under duress of any kind. We are just not used to this. Further down, in the “context” area, we get to the insult—but it’s not until the very end and I think it still reads rather well, listing off Trump’s major achievements without referencing any fake news hoaxes like drinking bleach or “fine people” lies.

That context is found in the wall text, the brief biography that sums up each president’s tenure. Trump’s achievements include record low unemployment, restrictions on immigration and the appointment of “a record number of federal judges, including three Supreme Court Justices,” the summation says. It also notes that he was twice impeached and twice acquitted, and ends with this: “The beginning of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), which resulted in a devastating loss of human lives and an economic crisis, became a key issue during his reelection campaign. More Americans voted in the 2020 presidential election than ever before, and the majority elected Joseph R. Biden Jr. Nevertheless, Trump did not concede, and a mob of his supporters, who refused to accept the results, attacked the U.S. Capitol complex on January 6, 2021, when Congress was working to certify Biden’s win.”

They managed to insult his supporters there at the end with the “mob” talk but other than that, it’s quite positive. The museum values even-handedness and it shows. I can’t be the only one who appreciates their tone of fairness.

“We’re looking at the American presidency in its entirety. We do include critical comments, but we’re even in our assessments,” Moss said, adding that these reflections are written by the museum’s curators and historians. “It’s a process of collaboration. A lot of people review it. There’s a lot of discussion.”

I half expected that the Smithsonian would pretend like President Trump didn’t exist and refuse to hang his portrait, but I’m thrilled to see that sane people still seem to be in charge there. I wonder how long until whoever created this exhibit is targeted for cancelation.