Is R-E-S-P-E-C-T in Dress or Success?

1 02 2009

The importance of wearing a uniform played into this week’s “Burn Notice” but the tv show plot point was effecting intimidation, not showing respect. (And both sides were criminals trying to psych each other out in their audaciously illegal semitropical enterprises.)

That dress for success uniform was an open-collared white shirt, no tie, black slacks and black jacket. And shades. Like this:

Barack Obama May 2008 by Doug Mills, New York Times

Barack Obama May 2008 by Doug Mills, New York Times

I was thinking about conservatives and how they love dress codes, even at school which they usually DON’T love, and even in Christian homeschooling which they do, while reading this —

. . .The other thing to consider here is exactly how one “respects” the presidency. For Card and others who served with Bush, it’s about choice of clothing. For those who serve with Obama, it’s about honoring institutional limits and the rule of law.

. . . Did George W. Bush always wear a coat and tie? Sure. Good for him. But while he was wearing nice clothes and demanding that his staff do the same, he also oversaw a scandal-plagued White House that trashed constitutional norms and routinely ignored the laws that the president twice swore to faithfully execute.

One respects the office by honoring its place in a constitutional system, not by wearing a suit.

Here’s one comment:

“Military historians have a simple predictive rule of thumb on winners and losers that . . . the side with the fanciest uniforms loses.

The rational[e] is simple. The side that spends most of its time in pomp, appearance and ceremony does not spend its time on actually doing what it is supposed to.”

The Smithsonian wants this hat from the universally known mother of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, but
a) she made the hat famous, not the other way around, and
b) it’s unique, not uniform, and
c) I don’t think they want it because they respect it.

Ron Edmonds/AP

Ron Edmonds/AP

And let’s not even get started on the recent object lesson of conservatives like oh, Sarah Palin for instance, putting undue emphasis on and investment into wardrobe, instead of knowledge and ideas!

Other snooking around, including school dress codes used to control and standardize rather than respect our kids as individuals, and how young Colin Powell’s love of uniforms drew him toward the military:

School culture disasters and dress codes

Mess is robust, with resonance!

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19 responses

1 02 2009
Crimson Wife

I’m not so sure it’s a liberal/conservative thing so much as a generational one. The new President is a member of Gen X, as are many of his staffers. The Gen Xers I know tend to prefer more casual work attire regardless of their political leanings.

1 02 2009
JJ

But what do they prefer about business ethics and enlightened society — are the young all like Obama about that too? Don’t think so! — certainly not the masters of the universe spending all those billions in ill-gotten bonuses anyway. Betting most of them are conservatives politically, no matter how they dress.

1 02 2009
JJ

Here’s conservative Peggy Noonan making another bizarre style over substance claim, that Obama and other Dems (rather than the Bush Rs) are to blame for disrespecting and thereby devaluing the presidency, simply by treating it as a public office and doing its business constitutionally and in public, where cameras can and do show us their work, instead of secretly from some undisclosed subterranean location, run for and about Halliburton and Wall Street all week, for publicly pious Saddleback prosperity on the weekends. (And come to think of it, isn’t Rick Warren a pretty open-collared casual dresser and a media hog to boot? )

When the office is omnipresent, it is demystified. Constant exposure deflates the presidency, subtly robbing it of power and making it more common.

1 02 2009
JJ

So, do church lady hats spell RESPECT to Christians then? Another slam against Obama — Michelle doesn’t wear them!

1 02 2009
Nance Confer

Unlike Peggy Noonan, I recently remarked to DH that I am very happy that Obama has been on TV so much — formally and informally — and seems to actually be participating in the governance process. Not just posing for photo ops but actually rolling up his sleeves and working. I don’t need my government to be any more mysterious than it already is. And it needs to earn our respect, not expect it.

Nance

1 02 2009
boremetotears

Regarding the title of Obama’s book: I guess I should prepare to see more of that picture in chain emails from family members convinced that Obama intends to subvert our great country and run it into the ground…

1 02 2009
COD

That already happened last year. The conservatives were up in arms that Obama was actually reading a book meant for grown ups.

1 02 2009
Crimson Wife

Betting most of them are conservatives politically, no matter how they dress.

Actually, those working in financial services during the 2008 campaign donated far more to Sen Obama than to Sen. McCain (it was something like 3:1). The top employers of those who donated to Obama include Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, and the now-defunct Lehman Bros.

Most of the people I know who work in financial services vote Democratic. They may be more fiscally conservative than the typical Democrat, but they tend to be socially liberal and vote their conscience rather than their pocketbook.

1 02 2009
JJ

Party games and polar opposites aside, it seems to me the problem is whether we the people can respect the office of the presidency anymore, and whether the president respects US.

For me the non-partisan progressive intellectual, us respecting the prez and being respected in return, can’t be about the clothes, or the church, or time on tv.

And while I happen to agree Bill Clinton did disrespect the presidency and us — not to mention his own family — I’d say that had more to do with a blue dress than a black suit.

1 02 2009
writestuff444

The very cool Mr. Obama in the photo, was just that…a Senator Obama at the time..but wow..he is so rock star cool. :P..can’t resist i.

1 02 2009
JJ

I just saw this:

in a radio interview with CBS News, Gibbs . . . the press secretary said, “Just in the job itself, he has in a very short period of time filled up the seat he sits in every day.”

. . .Gibbs also discussed the somewhat relaxed style at recent official events, where piano music and not “Hail to the Chief” could be heard wafting through the White House hallways as the president entered. (Also often missing: The formal announcement “Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States.”)

Gibbs chuckled about the elevator-style music. He said he didn’t know if the president had asked that musicians not play the presidential march but noted that Mr. Obama “is not a pomp and circumstance kind of guy.” He said the president “is much more interested in the substance of the job.”

3 02 2009
Old Question Rears Its Head AGAIN: What’s in a Name? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] stupid talk about “respect” from people who clearly just don’t get […]

4 02 2009
JJ

I was reminded today of “Respect the Jeezits” as similar misapprehension of what’s important and what “respect” means. . .

5 02 2009
JJ

New blogging on this today, from the Washington Independent. 🙂

Andy Card, you need to STFU

6 02 2009
JJ

Pride before the fall, here come the embarrassing photos . . .
Bush Jacketless in Oval Office

6 02 2009
JJ

Lol to CW for saying:
“Most of the people I know who work in financial services . . .may be more fiscally conservative than the typical Democrat.”

Lavish lifestyle big bank bailout recipients and the phrase fiscally conservative? Tough times to peddle that line to the people.

6 02 2009
JJ

I heard on radio this morning that Aretha Franklin has recorded a new, improved version of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” because it was so cold at the inaugural that her vocal cords (like the strings playing Williams’ arrangement) weren’t at their best.

So — is it “respect” for the music and for us, to make the the best sound possible despite the conditions, even if it’s not therefore all-natural and live, and even if traditional form calls for some illusion and enhancement? Or is that lying and disrespect?

24 03 2009
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[…] the elegant and enlightened First Family is well-enough educated to help us all transform and overcome — but […]

22 05 2009
Palin Parenting Pregnancy Pomp (and Circumstance) « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Palin fabulously dressing up for a White House run? We remember that drill, baby. Is R-E-S-P-E-C-T in Dress of Success? for instance: And let’s not even get started on the recent object lesson of conservatives like […]

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