When the White House last week released this image of Obama, taken on his first day at work, the NY Times Sheryl Gay Stolberg says, "The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy."
That's sort of true. Some people — like Pat Buchanan on Morning Joe — went into fits of near-apoplectic rage. You would have thought, honestly, that it was a picture of Obama getting a beej under the infamous Oval Office desk rather than sitting there like he was, you know, working. According to Buchanan and many others, such things just aren't done in Washington. I mean, when George W. Bush was in office, everyone on his staff had to be fully be-suited to enter the Oval Office, because Dubya likes it to be all formal-like when he's plotting to overthrow dictators, deceive the American public, give up the hunt for Osama bin Laden, restrict women's reproductive freedoms, roll back years of personal freedoms and demand that no one use embryonic stems cells for the good of their souls.
Well, great, as Esquire's Richard Dorment says:
The new president is also wrapping his arms around some pretty big problems here, and if ditching the jacket and even rolling up his sleeves gets the blood flowing, "the capital" should calm the hell down and let the man work.
A-fucking-men. Does Pat Buchanan and all the other tizzy-havers really expect the American public to believe that, even when the cameras weren't shooting, George W. Bush, the brush-clearer and mountain-biker, never removed his coat in the office? I mean, I certainly buy that he called Dan Bartlett to the carpet for khakis on a weekend, but that's more because I think he's an annoying boss stuck on his own power than anything else.
Does anyone have a boss that wears his suit coat all the time? No? Okay. It's not like he wore just his shirt sleeves to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy or something (though, Sarkozy himself has been know to be caught informally on camera, too, so he could hardly complain). Wearing a jacket doesn't make you smarter, it doesn't make your underlings more capable and it doesn't say anything about what kind of Presidency you might be about to have. It does show, however, that Obama would rather have smart people say smart things without a suit jacket on than bar them at the office door for their insolence, and I'm pretty fine with that.
But if the first picture pissed everyone off, they had to be tearing their hair out at this one.
That's right. The only guy in a suit jacket is the one most likely to go tell you to go fuck yourself. That's Washington for you.
White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code [New York Times]
Why We Like Obama's Less Formal White House Dress Code [Esquire]