At some point while he was on vacation in the balmy clime of Hawaii, President Obama, undisputed leader of the free world, wore a pair of cheap-looking black flip flops. And while we’re sure there are some news media commentators raring to dust off the undying Kerry ’04 flip-flopper barb, other people are acting like his choice of footwear is the end of formal government decorum as we know it.
The president was photographed wearing the shoes while buying ice-cream cones for Malia and Sasha on the beach. While some historians told The New York Post they’d never seen a president’s toes before, we don’t think this is a really big deal other than being a presidential first. Because the man was off duty. In an ice cream shop. In effing Hawaii. How this story made the front page of the Post (especially when New Yorkers are still climbing over piles of garbage in order to get out of their homes) we’ll never understand.
Still, there are some who won’t admit that neither the occasion nor the location called for the man’s toes to stay incognito. One DC observer asked “You don’t think you’re going to see [Russian Prime Minister] Vladimir Putin wearing flip-flops, do you?” No, we don’t. But that doesn’t matter because we’ve already seen Putin fly fishing and riding a horse without a shirt.
Trying to claim the president has somehow damaged the grand tradition of presidential footwear might fly — if there was a grand tradition of presidential footwear. Presidents Bush and Reagan‘s cowboy boots and JFK‘s topsiders are prime examples of our nation’s leading men stepping away from wingtips when the occasion called for it. And the occasion, after all, is the most important issue of this non-issue.
I don’t think this is a big deal,” said presidential historian Jane Hampton Cook, author of an upcoming children’s book What Does the President Look Like? “Your footwear belongs to the occasion. If you’re on the beach buying your daughter snow cones, I don’t think you can beat him up for this. Now if he’s wearing flip-flops to the State of the Union, that’d be different.”
And we agree. Not only would flip flops at a formal address be different, they’d also be newsworthy.
That’s quite a feet! Bam first flip-flop president [The New York Post]