Partisan America’s fetish with the feet of our presidents
By Nate Thayer
March 1, 2017
Partisan Washington’s fetish with presidential feet dominated news headlines yesterday, trumping the global consensus the leaders of the Free World have lost their minds.
Trump presidential advisor KellyAnne Conway was spanked throughout official Washington for kneeling and putting her feet on the presidential couch to snap photos at an official event in the oval office.
Partisan outrage in official Washington over the incident portrayed as a political crisis dominated the news cycle yesterday.
The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and every major television news program featured the story yesterday.
“Kellyanne Conway: ‘I didn’t mean to have my feet on the couch’,” USA Today announced.
“Kellyanne Conway Casually Sits, and Etiquette Arbiters Take a Stand” was the headline in the New York Times.
“Kellyanne Conway Defends Controversial Couch Photo,” Fox Business News declared..
But the White House oval office presidential couch has routinely hosted all kinds of antics in recent years, including routinely involving feet.
It is far from the first time some people have argued that a president has misused the presidential couch, showing insufficient respect for the institution of the office of the president.
None of those people include most everyone residing in the long ignored swath of America between Wall Street and their corrupt cohorts in Washington on the east coast and the California moneyed elite in the west who elected Donald Trump as president and the de facto leader of the free world.
These people don’t care about what people do with their feet on the couch in the president’s oval office in the White House.
These are the same people who are sufficiently fed up with the Washington power elite–who are those who did deem the politics of the presidential feet one of the important political issues of Tuesday–that they concluded it was worth risking destroying the village in order to save it by electing a president who may be willing to do just that.
This is latest, meaningless kerfuffle important only to partisan politicians, political pundits, and other government apparatchiks who deemed the politics of presidential feet a policy priority.
The allegedly unacceptable behavior of KellyAnne Conway who was chastised for disrespecting the institution of the presidency of the United States on every news platform from mainstream throughout social media is not important. Is it really necessary to even debate that question?
Many people did.
“Get your fucking feet off the furniture, @KellyannePolls,” said outraged liberal pundit Keith Olberman yesterday in a message to presidential advisor KellyAnne Conway. “This isn’t your home.”
“If Rice or Jarrett had sat like this in Oval Office conservatives would have screamed themselves hoarse for weeks,” Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens wrote. “Now we own trashy.”
Trashy? Maybe to the Wall Street Journal. Certainly not compared to other recent uses of the oval office, one example being that pictured below, which requires no explanatory comment.
“‘I certainly meant no disrespect,’ Kellyanne Conway says of her pose in Oval Office couch photo,” was the Washington Post headline yesterday. “Amid a debate over a photo showing White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s casual posture while sitting on an Oval Office couch, she stressed to The Washington Post that the focus should instead be on the reason she was there in the first place,” was the Post’s lead sentence.
Photographs have documented presidents behaving casually with others in the oval office which has a long bipartisan history: Republican and democratic presidents have used the oval office to play football, golf, frolic with children, and engage in non official business with friends and others, including people other than their wives.
Here are some snippets and photographs from the recent historical use of the oval office and it couches and rugs and desk by presidents:
President Obama hosted comedian Jerry Seinfeld in the president’s private inner sanctum in 2016, where they both chit-chatted on the couch in an arguably less than decorous manner.
Obama used the couch to play hide and seek with one of daughters, Sasha, in 2009.
Lots of other fun stuff has gone on in that office. Here the child of a departing secret service agent and his wife shows particular disregard for etiquette and protocol on the presidential couch.
President’s and their aides have a bipartisan history of playing golf on the oval office rug featuring the official seal of the president of the United States.
President Ronald Reagan used the office to toss footballs with his aides.
President Lyndon Johnson often brought his Beagles to play on the presidential rug which features the official seal of the president of the United States.
Several presidents have been photographed smooching with their dogs on the presidential couch.
Elsewhere in the president’s office, all kinds of fun and games and shenanigans have been routine for at least more than half a century. President Kennedy allowed his children to be informal with abandon under the presidential desk as documented in several iconic photographs
PARTISAN AMERICAN FETISH WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL FEET
And then there is the issue of the outrage directed at a photograph of President Obama’s feet which were accused of disrespecting the nation, and even threatening to spark World War Three.
While partisan republican’s had few objections to Conway’s knees on the couch yesterday, many took great exception to former president Obama’s feet on the presidential desk in recent years.
“I’ll take shoes on the couch over this any day,” Amy Lutz of the conservative Young America’s Foundation which is also charged with preserving the Reagan Ranch, said yesterday, in a defense of KellyAnne Conway and swipe at former president Obama.
President Obama did indeed enjoy propping his feet up while conducting the business of the people, as documented by numerous photographs. But, other than Washington insiders and professional partisan political apparatchiks from the other team, no one seemed to mind much.
Partisan politicians, pundits, and media who disagreed with what was in president Obama’s head often misdirected their angst at his feet when he occupied the oval office.
“Barack Obama: Guilty Of Conduct Unbecoming Of A U.S. President” was the title of a 2013 article in the “alternative news” magazine “State of the Nation,” adding the subtitle “Obama Exhibits Profound Disrespect for Office of the President” for emphasis.
State of the Nation was denouncing a widely circulated photo of president Obama’s feet on the presidential desk.
State of the Nation even went so far as suggested that global war, pestilence, disease, and the general calamity they envisioned was looming could be traced back to Obama’s feet on the presidential desk.
“Perhaps someone can inform the President that his quite unseemly habit of placing his shoes on the desk in the Oval Office is a reflection of bad manners… as in VERY bad karma,” the Magazine warned after a 2013 presidential feet on desk incident. “Such a practice is considered highly inauspicious for…those who are under the protection of such a careless leader” and advised Obama to “give it up for the good of the country.”
But a cursory glance at recent history shows it is the presidential feet on the presidential desk that have the longest uninterrupted bipartisan history that have been captured in photographs.
It was State of the Nation magazine which devoted the most comprehensive investigative reportage on the threat the presidential feet pose to the future of the republic.
The magazine, not recognized for its previous scholarship on Asian culture and history, lectured that “It is a well-known rule of official conduct in the East, especially throughout India and China, that the leaders should never put their shoes up on their desk. According to Feng Shui, violating such a ‘law’ could prove to be catastrophic,” they wrote. “Of all the things you can do right or wrong in your office, putting your shoes on your desk is strictly forbidden. Ancient wisdom is quite clear on this matter, and for very good reasons.”
“Because the modern intellect is so divorced from the ancient wisdom, it is very easy to ridicule the seriousness of this particular transgression. When the presidents and prime ministers of India and Russia, China and Japan wouldn’t even think of performing such a fundamentally irreverent action, there are obviously extremely good reasons why that is the case. Especially in view of the far-reaching ramifications that such disrespectful conduct can have for a whole nation, those leaders are quite careful to avoid them. Unless one understands the subtle art of Feng Shui and esoteric science of Vastu, it is admittedly difficult to apprehend the power, and calamitous repercussions, of wrong action performed in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nevertheless, ignorance of sacred laws and time-honored traditions (a prohibition in this instance) is not a valid excuse for violating them. Unfortunately for the world community of nations gross errors in judgment, just like the one illustrated below, have contributed greatly to the prevailing state of international affairs. The current condition of the American Republic likewise reflects the resulting misfortune.”
“What are the consequences of habitually placing your feet on your desk?” concluded State of the Nation in 2015. “Perhaps it would be good to look at the plight of the USA over the past seven plus years to get an idea.”
The magazine was not alone trumpeting their fetish with Obama’s presidential feet.
The New York Times yesterday took similar, although more muted, exception to the misuse of President Trump’s political advisor KellyAnne Conway’s feet. The Times stressed the matter was of significant importance to millions of the American citizenry.
“For those watching closely — and millions are — this seemed like the latest flouting of protocol by an administration that has shown a penchant for spontaneity and a willingness to ignore unwritten rules of White House life. When Mr. Trump invited Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, into the Oval Office in early February, his daughter Ivanka, normally considered the most polished member of the family, was criticized for taking an impromptu seat at her father’s desk,” the New York Times wrote.
Would America rather have this:
What should capture the attention of both leaders in government and the 5th Estate is that yesterdays “Feetgate” faux news scandal was published by virtually every major media organization who, by doing so, succumbed to the lure of maximizing their webpage hits with a transparently clickbait marketing trick to deliver readers to advertisers–news that once would have been rightly relegated to People magazine and supermarket tabloids–not news of import to a free people.
Today’s actually important news story should be how this represents the collapse of a once credible Free Press that threatens the future of the Republic.
But that story won’t be published anywhere.
And that, too, is an important news story itself.