IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

White House flip-flop flap

Keith Olbermann and comedian Mo Rocca talk footwear, etiquette and politics
/ Source:

It's a no-brainer, publicity-wise.  When you meet the president, you clean up a bit.

A fashion faux pas caused an uproar when several players members of the Northwestern University championship women's lacrosse team wore flip-flops to a ceremony at the White House.

Team member Kate Darmody bought a new Anne Taylor sundress for the occasion, donned white pearls, and seeking footwear which she said would 'go well with my outfit and at the same time, not be that uncomfortable, but at the same time, not disrespect the White House,' chose flip-flops.  Not just any flip-flops — special $16 models with rhinestones.

Nobody at the White House complained, but the front page of the Chicago Tribune did.  Citing Darmody's brother in an e-mail, “You wore flip-flops to the White House?” 

The Northwestern players were surprised at the backlash.  After all, they did not wear sneakers like the University of Michigan softball champions did recently when they met President Bush.

TV personality Mo Rocca joined Countdown host Keith Olbermann to discuss what happens when fashion and politics collide.

KEITH OLBERMANN:  So what of this flip-flop flub flap?

MO ROCCA:  Well, I think the girls are being coy here.  They clearly were making a statement.  What they were saying is, ‘Hello, Mr. President, we know that the White House has a pool.  Hello!  Where is it?  And bring us some frothy drinks and beach towels, while you‘re at it, pool boy.’

I mean, look, the fact is, footwear says a lot.  It‘s very symbolic.  And I think that‘s why all serious court watchers are going to be looking at John Roberts’ feet when he comes out (to meet the press for the first time).  What is he wearing?  It says a lot about a candidate we don‘t know a lot about.

For instance, is he wearing what Clarence Thomas wore at his presentation, which were two-toned spectator shoes that said to the public, ‘I want to bring America back to the 1920s?’  Or is he wearing what Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore?  I doubt it.  He‘s probably not going to be wearing Birkenstocks.  These were very radical.  They were saying, ‘If you think these are radical, check out my pits.’ 

He could be wearing what David Souter was wearing.  We all remember that.  David Souter was sort of a wild card.  He lives alone.  He wears red shoes.  Or is he a consensus candidate, like Sandra Day O’Connor, who wore espadrilles, comfortable shoes, kind of sexy, but the heel is made of a rope.  It’s actually made of rope, which sort of is — bespeaks a sort of Western conservatism and independence, something that conservatives value, but liberals respect, as well.  She also would wear stilettos at times, when she needed to bring both sides together.

OLBERMANN: We don‘t need to go there....Historically, have we had controversy on this level of the flip-flops in the White House regarding other visitors?

ROCCA:  Well, clothing controversies we’ve had.  In 1857, Chief Justice Roger Taney attended an event at the White House.  He wore his robes but nothing underneath.  He was, in the parlance of the time, “going commando.”  Now, President James Buchanan was very, very excited about this.  But this is why Taney is held in disrepute. That and the Dred Scott decision.

The whole point here is that I really believe that the presentation of John Roberts at this time is really to take away attention from the other scandal brewing in Washington, which is Karl Rove‘s footwear. 

I do want to make one thing very clear.  If John Roberts has had toe cleavage surgery — that's the removal of corns or bunions or even a small toe in order to squeeze into Jimmy Chews or Manolos — that's going to be a clear sign of how he'll vote on physician-assisted suicide.