On Thursday, President Obama held a press conference in which he discussed the economy as well as two of the most critical foreign policy issues in the world: the ISIS threat and the situation in Ukraine. On the economy, the president reported:
This morning we found out that our economy actually grew at a stronger clip in the second quarter than we originally thought. Companies are investing, consumers are spending. Over the past 4 ½ years, our businesses have now created nearly 10 million new jobs. So there are reasons to feel good about the direction we’re headed.
On ISIS and Iraq, he said:
Because of our strikes, the terrorists of ISIL are losing arms and equipment. In some areas, Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have begun to push them back. And we continue to be proud and grateful to our extraordinary personnel serving in this mission. [...]
As I've said, rooting out a cancer like ISIL will not be quick or easy, but I'm confident that we can and we will, working closely with our allies and our partners. For our part, I've directed Secretary Hagel and our Joint Chiefs of Staff to prepare a range of options. I'll be meeting with my National Security Council again this evening as we continue to develop that strategy. And I've been consulting with members of Congress, and I'll continue to do so in the days ahead.
On Ukraine, he said:
As a result of the actions Russia has already taken and the major sanctions we've imposed with our European and international partners, Russia is already more isolated than at any time since the end of the Cold War.
Much more ground was covered in the Q&A section of the event, but what is social media talking about?
Obama's goddamn tan suit.
Jesus H. Christ, you fucking children. You'd think Obama walked into the press room with his fly wide open and a streamer of toilet paper stuck to his shoe. It's just a goddamn tan suit, people!
And Ezra Klein's Vox.com posted an article that was either intended to be a serious (yet ludicrous) analysis of the suit, or a satire of something Salon.com might publish. Sadly, it's probably the former. Headline: "The Obama suit backlash is a promising sign of gender equality."
No. No it's not. It's a sign that American social media and the political discourse is totally off its fucking rocker. I mean beyond insane. As I followed the tweets relentlessly popping into my feed, I couldn't help but to repeat a refrain from my colleague and friend Chez Pazienza: bring back the gatekeepers. Seriously, we've been given this miraculous technology -- this stupendous means of communicating and this is what we've chosen to do with it. Grade-school-recess comment-section nitpickery has evolved into legitimate political criticism over the most mundane, nearsighted and inconsequential details.
Congratulations, America. This is why we can't have nice things. And when historians of the future look for someone to blame, I hope they include a brief mention of the outrage over Obama's ordinary suit.
Sorry to shit on your too-excellent zingers, but -- once again -- every president wears tan suits! Do we really need to dig into Google images and find the evidence? A cursory search reveals Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, etc, etc, etc, wearing tan suits.
While it's not a tan suit, can you imagine if Obama appeared in public wearing this?
Here are many, many more.
As for the Republicans, this joins a ludicrously long list of criticisms hurled at this president despite the fact that it's exactly in line with all previous president and therefore totally normal. None of it is unique to Obama, and none of it matters.
No wonder half the nation is clueless about what the president is or isn't doing. No wonder the actual facts and reality of the administration's actions have been replaced by conspiratorial gibberish. It's because half the nation thinks it's both hilarious and newsworthy that the president wore a tan suit, or that he didn't wear a tie one day, or that his jeans aren't slim-cut low-riders. What'll it be next week? The president is wearing shoes! The president sneezed without saying "excuse me." The president had to go to the bathroom! IEEEEE!
If you want the news media to do a better and more thorough job at reporting important topics, show the news media you actually care about serious topics. If you want politicians to be more substantive and less focused on superficial claptrap, then cut the crap about suits or jeans or feet-on-desks. Instead, we're telling elected officials that their suits are more important than the content of their policies, and, worse, we're giving the press a big fat excuse to report on this horseshit.
This tan suit business might be the dumbest thing I've seen in my career as a political writer. And that's saying a lot.