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The Battle for Churchill’s Bust

NEW YORK – The election of the United States’ next president is surely the most important contest in the democratic world. Yet the issues being contested can seem awfully trivial. Consider, for instance, the question of Winston Churchill’s bust.

A bronze sculpture of the British prime minister had been in the Oval Office of the White House since the 1960’s. On becoming President, Barack Obama replaced it with a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Mitt Romney, his Republican opponent in November’s election, has vowed to restore it if he wins. Then a White House spokesman said that the bust was still on the premises, just in a different room, whereupon the story changed once more: there were apparently two busts of Churchill; one still in the White House, and one that Obama returned to the British embassy.