A spokesman for the White House said that there was no intent behind the request to cover the symbols other than to provide a standard presidential background.
"Decisions made about the backdrop for the speech were made to have a consistent background of American flags, which is standard for many presidential events. Any suggestions to the contrary are simply false."A spokesperson for Georgetown echoed the White House line, but did not respond when asked if similar requests had been made for other presidential addresses at the school.
The Administration may have wanted to control the visuals from the speech, but the request to cover up Christian symbols at a Catholic school is bound to detract from the message. If the White House wanted to give a speech in a religiously neutral environment, there were plenty of venues to choose from in Washington. It is doubtful that anyone would have questioned the presence of the symbols had the Administration not asked for them to be hidden. Ironically, in their absence, the symbols may never have been more visible.