FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The DNC’s Denver Obama Facade — a poor attempt at a Greek temple, or a hackish version of the White House?
Take a quick look at that West Wing.
Let’s take a look at a few images to see if we can figure out just what it is the DNC is going for with their pseudo-Classical facade on Obama’s stage tonight.
Now, anybody who paid attention for more than five minutes in ancient history class can spot several defects in the facade if the intent was to make an architecturally correct Greek temple. The Oβαμειον pictured above (click to view larger image) features four Doric columns — two on each end — with a series of triglyphs (though the metopes, which span the gaps between the triglyphs, are undecorated here) above the architrave.
The image below is a sketch of the facade of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. As you can see, the Doric columns and triglyphs of the Denver Oβαμειον contain great similarities to this design.
Likewise, the Propylaia (the facade that spanned the top of the staircase and ramp Athenians ascended when visiting the Akropolis), pictured below (click to view larger images), possessed a similar Doric column/triglyph facade (though the metopes were not blank as they are in the DNC’s construction).
Another ancient structure whose appearance Obama’s stage hearkens is the best-known of all Greek buildings: the Athenian temple to Athena Parthenos, or the Parthenon. Seen below, the Parthenon features the same Doric columns and triglyphs, though, as with the Propylaia, the metopes are not blank (and there is a relief on the pediment above).
So, Obama’s stage is a Greek temple, right? Not so fast.
The problem with the Greek temple diagnosis becomes obvious when the viewer looks below the architrave between the four Doric columns. The columns there are a very non-Greek square shape, and the windows are paned. That’s right — paned.
That last item should answer any question about whether or not the stage behind Obama tonight is intended to be a Greek temple. If that is not what it is, though, what is it?
Could the answer be, as a few folks have suggested, a hackish version of the White House? Such presumptuousness would certainly be nothing new from the Obama campaign; after all, it wasn’t so long ago that they debuted their terrible “Vero Possumus” version of the Presidential Seal, though the resulting outcry quickly forced them to discontinue its use (though they attempted to explain away the pulling of the Seal by claiming it was a one-time-use-only design).
The problem with this theory is that the Denver Oβαμειον doesn’t appear to be an exact match of the main colonnaded areas of the White House. For example, take a look at the photo below of the famous North Portico (click the image for a larger view).
The paned windows are familiar; however, not much else matches up with the Obama stage facade. The White House columns are a modified Ionic (the Capitals are voluted, but with roses placed between them), and the architrave is entirely blank; the triglyphs that make up the distinguishing feature of the Oβαμειον facade are entirely absent. So, no dice on the North Portico.
How about the South (again, click the picture below for a larger view)?
As with the north, we have serious comparison problems. The columns are Ionic, the top of the Colonnade has a very poor version of metopes, and the shape itself is all wrong. Once again, the paned windows are about all we have to go on.
So, the Obama stage facade, whatever it may be, is not a presumptuous attempt to be seen — actively or subliminally — as being a President addressing the nation (and the audience) from the porch of the White House….right?
Not so fast. There is one more well-known venue at the White House which we have yet to compare with the Oβαμειον: the West Wing, just behind the Rose Garden.
Look at that architectural design (another view here). Now, look again at the Oβαμειον:
There are still, of course, problems with the comparison. As any Obama supporter (or astute observer) will be quick to point out, the West Wing has Doric columns all the way across, while the Denver facade has only two on each side, flanking the stage. Above the architrave, something faintly resembling triglyphs is present on the West Wing, but they are nowhere near as developed, nor as correct, as those on the Obama facade. Also, the windows are narrower in the White House, and the panes are white, not brown (though, despite the spacing, the width of those windows in terms of number of panels and panes is the same).
The background is blue, not white; the seal over the Eagle’s chest is replaced with the messianic “O” in Obama’s version; the clouds, stars, and E Pluribus Unum (“out of many, one” — a slogan which Obama would have co-opted, rather than imprinting this with “Vero Possumus,” had he been possessed of any smarts) removed; and, of course, the text along the outside has been changed.
Given that level of revisionism, is it so improbable that the minor discrepancies between the West Wing and the Oβαμειον mentioned above are a combination of revisionism and lack of attention to detail? Part of this can, of course, be chalked up to the perspective forced on the stage by the purpose of its use. It is not a building; it is a concave backdrop for a stadium address. With that borne in mind, setting the windows into the facing, with squared columns between them seems to be the easiest and most practical way to get the desired effect.
Another part of this can be chalked up to a desire to do the minimum amount necessary to avoid the same accusations of presumptuousness that the fake Presidential Seal garnered. The pane coloring, the backdrop changes — all are there to create plausible deniability. However, when placed side by side and compared architecturally — and when the Obama campaign’s presumptuous history is taken into account — it becomes quite clear what this is: an attempt to craft an image of Barack Obama addressing the masses (and the nation) from the West Wing of the White House.
In short, Obama wants to photoshop his image in the White House tonight in the minds of the voting public.
The plausible deniability is present in the details, but it is tenuous at best, especially when paired with Obama’s presidential seal-embroidered airplane seat and Vero Possumus past are included in consideration.
Barack Obama truly is The Man Who Would Be President — and he is either a man who is so confident of his chances, or a child who gets far too caught up in the a fun game of make-believe, that he will stop at nothing to pretend that he is currently the President of the United States, complete with personal seal and West Wing pulpit.
Either way, that’s a dangerous mindset to have.