• US President Donald Trump was lambasted on social media after releasing a White House handout purportedly showing him working during the government shutdown.
• Online commenters pointed out Trump’s stiff posture and empty desk.
• Trump’s desk has been busier in the past, but his workspace lacks the family photos that previous presidents often showcased.
Your desk can shine a light on some of your work habits and personality traits.
So it’s not surprising that a recent photo of US President Donald Trump spawned a number of reactions on social media. The White House handout depicts Trump sitting at the Oval Office’s Resolute desk. The surface of the desk is mostly clear, aside from a phone. Trump appears to be leaning forward in his chair listening to a phone call, while wearing a white “Make America Great Again” hat.
Some Twitter users speculated whether or not the POTUS was getting much done at all, pointing out his stiff posture and empty desk.
“Home Rule: Households, Manhood, and National Expansion on the Eighteenth-Century Kentucky Frontier” author and Western Carolina University history professor Honour Sachs even took to Twitter to compare Trump’s workspace with that of previous presidents.
— honor sachs (@drhonor) January 21, 2018
Her tweet thread spannedBarack Obama’s tidy work zone to Teddy Roosevelt’s paper-strewn desk.
Business Insider also found some photos of past president’s desks. Of course, these photos aren’t necessarily definitive portrayals of their typical workspaces. It’s relatively easy to move objects around and clear things away when it comes time to sign a bill or pose for a photo op.
But it’s clear that Trump’s White House workplace set up lacks one element adopted by many past presidents: prominently featured family photographs.
Here’s a look at some of the desks of previous US presidents:
In fairness, Trump’s desk hasn’t always appeared so clutter-free. Getty’s Drew Angerer captured these stacks of files during his contentious August 2017 phone call with Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
In Barack Obama’s White House, pictures of the president’s family were prominently featured behind his desk.
George W. Bush also displayed family photos, along with a bouquet of flowers, in this 2004 photo.
Bill Clinton’s desk boasted a jumble of photos, busts, and picture frames in 2000.
George H.W. Bush’s workspace looked a bit neater, as he kept his personal photos on a table behind his desk in 1989.
This strategy also worked for Ronald Reagan, seen here in a 1981 shot.
Despite the fact this photo was taken just as Gerald Ford prepared to vacate the White House, his desk still featured a number of stacks of papers and a cup and saucer.
When it came to John F. Kennedy’s workspace, one desk phone wasn’t enough in 1962.
In this similar shot, Kennedy’s predecessor Dwight Eisenhower works on a desk featuring a phone, ink, and lots of documents.
Harry Truman’s desk also featured the familiar set-up of heaps of paper, with a table of personal mementos and family photos in the background.
Microphones from various news outlets lined Franklin D. Roosevelt’s desk, as he prepared to make an announcement.
Herbert Hoover’s desk was aflutter with papers in this 1932 shot.
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