Obama now criticized for not dressing up enough for phone calls

President Obama talked to Vladimir Putin for an hour and a half on Saturday as Putin waved off U.S. admonitions to stay out of Ukraine with the warning that there would be “costs” for doing so. But far more troubling than the U.S. and Russia hitting its tensest impasse since the Cold War was what Obama chose to wear. To the phone call.

After White House Photographer Pete Souza released the above photo, Obama’s perpetual detractors pounced on his “normcore” style as an example of his “lead from behind” politics.

It started with Ron Christie, former George W. Bush adviser, who lashed into the phone call attire: “Talking with the President of Russia about an invasion in a button-down shirt and jeans is not up to the task,” he said. “I would never presume to be that informal or casual in the office of the beacon of freedom in the world.”

I’d like to think that Christie was tech savvy enough to mistakenly think that Obama and Putin were on a FaceTime chat or Google Hangout. But no, we’re actually just talking about a dress code for phone calls.

Sarah Palin, who is still being hired to talk about stuff for some reason, apparently heard the talking point and took it a step further on Fox News:

“People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil,” she told Sean Hannity Monday night. “They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.”

First off, before we start glorifying bear-wrestling, let’s remember that in the States that kind of thing is relegated to mobile home parks in Florida.

Second, Obama has committed some serious style faux pas in his two terms—he’s no JFK, that’s for sure—but wearing a button-down shirt in the Oval Office is hardly a new invention:

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Finally, to Palin’s point that “the perception of Obama, of him and his potency across the world is one of such weakness”: Has she forgotten that Obama is the face of black-market Viagra in Pakistan? Doesn’t get much more potent than that…


Image: Pete Souza/ The White House