http://frontpagemag.com. (April 16) reported that President ‘Obama snubbed Margaret Thatcher’s funeral’ by saying “Obama is not fit to lick Ronald Reagan's boot heels after walking behind his horse,” and went on sarcastically;

"The man who had no room for Churchill in the White House would certainly have no time to take a break from his umpteenth golf game to pay tribute to a woman who represents everything that he is working to destroy."

Is “have / had no room for X” in the White House a set phrase or an ad hock turn of words to mean “have no special attachment / reverence to a big name or specific person, or even country?

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    @Andrew Lazarus. As I added the word, ‘sarcastically’ to the above question, I sensed the frontpagemag’s statement has politically biased tone. You may be upset with it. But I have no interest of the political stands of U.S media at all, which is irrelevant to me as a Japanese resident. I posted 572 questions up to date, all of which were, I would like to emphasize, originated purely and solely from my linguistic interest or interest in English rhetoric. Politics is not my taste. Moreover, at the age of 80-year I’m too old to have any interest in politics, regardless it’s domestic or foreign. – Yoichi Oishi Jun 9 '13 at 7:05
  • Presumably Reagan is the one riding the horse? That is a very poorly phrased slam. – Wayfaring Stranger Jun 9 '13 at 14:30

No, it is not a set phrase. In 2009 the Obama white house apparently returned a bust of Winston Churchill that had been on loan since the September 11 attacks. The British government offered to let Obama keep it for another 4 years to which he seems to have replied "thanks but no thanks".

So, saying that Obama had no room for Churchill in the White House is simply a reference to this story, not applicable to other presidents or deceased historical figures.

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    Thanks a lot. I first associated with ‘room for Churchil’ with the ‘Churchil’s Room’ in Hotel la Mamounia in Marrakech, Morocco I stayed on business trip long time ago. They preserve ‘Churchill’s Room’ as it was in commemoration of Winston Churchill’s stay during or after W.W.II. I was totally ignorant of Churchill’s bust episode, and without the knowledge of the episode, I think, few people would have a clue to interpret the phrase in question correctly. – Yoichi Oishi Jun 9 '13 at 3:39
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    Cont. Even though it’s a well-known factoid among British and Americans, it doesn’t necessarily mean to be the commonsense to people in other parts of the world like me, or Chinese, Indonesians, Malaysians, Russian, Brazilian, and you can name it. I think it was still worth for me to have asked the question for sharing the knowledge related to this news with many of non-native English learning users, even though I got 2 close-votes. – Yoichi Oishi Jun 9 '13 at 3:40
  • @YoichiOishi don't look at me, I don't even have the rep to close. I'd never heard of the bust incident either, I just googled "obama churchil" and found it but that's because as a native speaker I knew that it was not a common expression. – terdon Jun 9 '13 at 3:45
  • @tardon. I’m not blaming you for ‘close’ voting at all. I frankly thanked you for your giving me a valuable answer with an explicit support, which I’m sure will benefit everyone who didnt know the episode like me. – Yoichi Oishi Jun 9 '13 at 3:55
  • Precicely speaking, it should be “The man who had no room for Churchill’s bust in the White House would certainly have - - -.” – Yoichi Oishi Jun 10 '13 at 11:36

'Have / find / make (no) room (in one's life / heart) for _' is a productive idiomatic construction (a set phrase).

Though terdon shows that the meaning for the completed expression is almost literal in this case (almost, because 'Churchill' rather than 'a bust of Churchill' is appended), there is surely a reference to the idiomatic usage. The metaphorical usage is most often used in a (Christian) religious setting, though a humanistic context is not uncommon. It is used even when referring to scientific beliefs / behaviours:

Doctors no longer learn or understand or explain the meaning of illness or ... beliefs of modern medicine, which have no room for such soft speculations.


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    I think this is the more accurate answer, although this is a tricky one. Had the O.P. asked, "Is “have/had no room for Churchill in the White House” a set phrase?" I might be inclined to say "No," but the question was [noticed the moved close quote], "Is “have/had no room for Churchill” in the White House a set phrase?" Move the close-quote even further in, and this answer is right on the mark: "Is “have/had no room for ..” a set phrase?" The words ‘room for’ in this context don't necessarily mean physical space for, but time for, or inclination to do. I'd call that idiomatic. – J.R. Jun 9 '13 at 8:57

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