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On Presidential Style


Our new president has already inspired his share of sartorial fawning but, as always, the British take the cake.

This column from the The Independent’s Howard Jacobson (via Balk) begins by wondering how our new president gets that dimple in his four-in-hand tie. Of course, we’ve always thought Obama was over-dimpled, but if Mr. Jacobson really wants it, all he has to do is pinch the front part of the tie before he pulls it through into the knot. But the tie quandary is just an intro to Jacobson’s musings on the nature of political style…and he ends up with one of the best quotes we’ve heard on the topic.

The question is, now that Obama’s leading the free world, isn’t focusing on his style just a distraction? Shouldn’t we put more faith in leaders too busy to care about how they dress?

Jacobson’s response goes like this:

Too much attention to exterior show and the man is trivial; too little and he is a fanatic. The person who cannot smile urbanely even when the world is falling apart is no better than the person who can do nothing else. And those who think they prove their integrity by looking shabby by the standards of their own society, or by adopting the dress of the oppressed (as though the oppressed are a model by virtue of their oppression), only demonstrate the narrowness of their sympathies.

Take notes, in case you ever feel like running for office.