The Republican Party: A critique by Jack Almond

December 15, 2018


Every president since our country’s beginnings has held a place in the National Portrait Gallery for their official painting. Following his predecessors, President Donald Trump will as well… but this is not it.


On Oct. 14, 60 Minutes broadcasted an interview with the president. The interview took place at the White House, and many viewers were drawn to a painting hanging on the wall in the background.


The painting, titled “The Republican Club” by Andy Thomas, depicts Trump sitting at a table with former presidents of the Republican Party, including Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. They all have drinks of their choice; Trump’s is a Diet Coke, according to Thomas. 


In an interview with The New York Times, Thomas said, “One thing (Trump) specifically mentioned was he didn’t usually like portraits of himself, but he said he really liked that one.” I guess when one is sitting with the greats, there is not much to complain about.


Pictured in the background is an image of a woman without a clear face. This is meant to represent the first female president of the United States. She is not at the table yet, but she is approaching it and will be there soon. 


Although many art critics have found this painting to be tasteless, I quite enjoy it. With all the media that surrounded this past election, Trump is sure to be one of the most well-known Republican presidents in history, so why not put him up there with Lincoln and the rest regardless of how one feels about him?


This painting made a big splash on social media, as does everything associated with Trump, and many people simply used their political opinions to decide their attitude towards the painting. In reality, a person’s political stance should not determine how they feel about this painting, or about Thomas.


Thomas has also painted “The Democratic Club,” which pictures Former President Barack Obama in the company of past Democratic presidents like Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. He also painted a series that showed Obama playing pool with past Democratic presidents.


Many people are saying that the painting is tacky and relates to the famous “dogs playing poker” series by Cassius Marcellus Coolidge. I can understand this perspective. The painting is very cut and dry, but I think that is how it is supposed to be. It is a simple representation of the honor and class that comes with becoming president and nothing more.


Another part of the painting that received attention on social media is Trump’s smile. While he appears to be looking at Lincoln, he is giving a very proud smile. Honestly, I do not blame him. I too would be proud to be at the same table as Abraham Lincoln, and hats off to Thomas for portraying it so well.


Overall, I like what the painting is doing. With all of the wild politics that go on nowadays, it is nice to have a painting like this to ease the stress in a way. Rather than criticize Thomas, I respect his ability to paint a picture that is now hanging up in the White House. A painting does not always have to have some double meaning. Sometimes a painting is just a painting.


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