His House, His Rules

obama-without-jacket

The new president has, it would seem, brought a new sartorial informality to the White House:

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

Thus did an ironclad rule of the George W. Bush administration — coat and tie in the Oval Office at all times . . . .

In cranking up the heat and ditching his jacket, Obama is showing himself to be anything but Jimmy Carter in a malaise-colored cardigan sweater, which he wore in an intentionally cold but more energy efficient White House.

Obama has explicitly changed the rules from the prior administration:

Over the weekend, Mr. Obama’s first in office, his aides did not quite know how to dress. Some showed up in the West Wing in jeans (another no-no under Mr. Bush), some in coats and ties.

So the president issued an informal edict for “business casual” on weekends — and set his own example. He showed up Saturday for a briefing with his chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, dressed in slacks and a gray sweater over a white buttoned-down shirt. Workers from the Bush White House are shocked.

“I’ll never forget going to work on a Saturday morning, getting called down to the Oval Office because there was something he was mad about,” said Dan Bartlett, who was counselor to Mr. Bush. “I had on khakis and a buttoned-down shirt, and I had to stand by the door and get chewed out for about 15 minutes. He wouldn’t even let me cross the threshold.”

Izzy finds it amusing that the Bush was such a stickler for decorum, when he otherwise tried to represent himself as an ordinary Joe. Indeed, were his official portrait hung in the Oval Office, it would appear to violate his own office dress code.

2 Responses to “His House, His Rules”

  1. belle de ville January 31, 2009 at 12:23 am #

    I belive that the Bush dress code for the Oval Office was more about respect for the office than his personal taste for Texas casual, don’t you?

  2. C.S. February 4, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    Bush’s aides’ complaints are especially amusing given the number of photos of them in the Oval Office sans jackets. As a Texan myself, I’d personally have seen Mr. Bush preserve the dignity of the office in other ways — by, say, conducting himself in a dignified manner — rather than playing hall monitor and chewing out underlings for no good reason. But that’s just me, I suppose.