Andy Card’s fashion preoccupation

ANDY CARD’S FASHION PREOCCUPATION…. Last week, former Bush White House chief of staff Andrew Card began complaining publicly about President Obama failing to always wear a jacket in the Oval Office. It wasn’t just a passing remark; Card can’t seem to stop talking about this.

At least one prominent former Bush official has the following message for President Obama: I don’t care if it’s warm enough to grow orchids in the Oval Office. Put your suit jacket on.

In an interview scheduled to run Wednesday night, Andrew H. Card Jr. told the syndicated news show Inside Edition that “there should be a dress code of respect” in the White House and that he wished Mr. Obama “would wear a suit coat and tie.” […]

“The Oval Office symbolizes…the Constitution, the hopes and dreams, and I’m going to say democracy. And when you have a dress code in the Supreme Court and a dress code on the floor of the Senate, floor of the House, I think it’s appropriate to have an expectation that there will be a dress code that respects the office of the President.”

Mr. Card went on to add that, while he would not criticize Mr. Obama for his appearance, “I do expect him to send the message that people who are going to be in the Oval Office should treat the office with the respect that it has earned over history.”

Let’s unpack this a bit. The truth is, this president is not overly concerned about the formality of one’s clothing. Obama was photographed at his desk wearing a shirt and tie, and some of the political establishment gasped because he was seen sans jacket. In the Oval Office, suits are common on weekdays, but the president issued an informal edict for “business casual” on weekends. That, apparently, means slacks and a buttoned-down shirt. This, Card believes, is insufficiently “respectful.”

It’s interesting to note, of course, that there are pictures of both Reagan and George W. Bush in the Oval Office without their jackets on. If Obama is violating some kind of “dress code that respects the office of the President,” he’s hardly the first.

But more importantly, to reiterate a point from Saturday, I still find it a little difficult to accept lectures from George W. Bush’s staff about “respecting” the Constitution, the office of the presidency, and democracy itself.

Andy Card helped run a scandal-plagued White House that treated constitutional norms and the rule of law like a punch-line. Bush wore a suit jacket most of the time? How nice for him. While he was dressed appropriately, Bush also flouted the very laws he twice swore to faithfully execute.

Perhaps Card can spare us the moral righteousness that comes with his preoccupation with the president’s fashion choices, and consider his own role in trashing “the Constitution, the hopes and dreams, and I’m going to say democracy.”

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