I think the New York Times overstates the state of titilation Washington,DC (and the world!) was in at seeing Barack Obama in the Oval Office without his jacket on, but it does serve as a good reminder that he led a pretty buttoned down campaign, and wants to bring that into his administration.
Axelrod’s comment about Obama’s preference for cranking up the thermostat is priceless: “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”
If only my gas bill wasn’t prohibitively expensive, I too would be able to grow orchids in my house. And if Dave didn’t have a much thicker skin than I.
On a side note, compared to Obama, the Bush White House sounds like a real bore:
In the West Wing, Mr. Obama is a bit of a wanderer. When Mr. Bush wanted to see a member of his staff, the aide was summoned to the Oval Office. But Mr. Obama tends to roam the halls; one day last week, he turned up in the office of his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, who was in the unfortunate position of having his feet up on the desk when the boss walked in.
“Wow, Gibbs,” the press secretary recalls the president saying. “Just got here and you already have your feet up.” Mr. Gibbs scrambled to stand up, surprising Mr. Obama, who is not yet accustomed to having people rise when he enters a room.
Under Mr. Bush, punctuality was a virtue. Meetings started early — the former president once locked Secretary of State Colin L. Powell out of the Cabinet Room when Mr. Powell showed up a few minutes late — and ended on time. In the Obama White House, meetings start on time and often finish late.
When the president invited Congressional leaders to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue last week to talk about his economic stimulus package, the session ran so long that Mr. Obama wound up apologizing to the lawmakers — even as he kept them talking, engaging them in the details of the legislation far more than was customary for Mr. Bush.
“He was concerned that he was keeping us,” said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the Republican whip. “He said, ‘I know we need to get you all out of here at a certain time.’ But we continued the discussion. What are you going to say? It’s the president.”
If Mr. Obama’s clock is looser than Mr. Bush’s, so too are his sartorial standards. 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’m sure there are old school folks who won’t think this is a good development, who feel like being stiff and strict is the way to go. I say they should go ahead and let progress make it’s way. George W. Bush locked Colin Powell out of a Cabinet meeting because he was five minutes late? Really? A former drug addict and wannabe Commissioner of Baseball kept the former General, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State from a Cabinet meeting?
No reason that kind of stuff shouldn’t go the way of the buffalo.