Opinion Columns & Blogs

Socks with Crocs

It's time to stop all this Bush bashing.

True, he's the worst president since U.S. Grant. And, yes, he got us into a disastrous war under false pretenses, gave war profiteers and energy companies unfettered access to our pocketbooks and filled the nation's highest offices with the most incompetent, ideologically wired and untrustworthy knaves in history. But must we second-guess the man's taste in footwear, too?

The president's choice of shoes recently was ridiculed in the pages of The Washington Post and The Rocky Mountain News. It seems our chief executive offended the fashionati by appearing in public wearing a pair of Crocs and dark socks emblazoned with the presidential seal.

"By Executive Order, Crocs Aren't Chic," screamed The Post's headline over a story by Robin Givhan.

"Bush's decision to wear black socks with his Crocs was ill-considered," Givhan wrote. "The combination makes one think of an old man on his way to the beach."

"And never mind stem cells or Iraq," wrote the News' Jane Hoback and Gil Rudawsky. "The real debate is socks with Crocs or not. In this, there are no winners."

For the fashion illiterate, Crocs look like a cross between sandals and mouse-nibbled orthopedic shoes. Although the company makes several styles, the most popular -- and the style our leader was chastised for wearing -- have back straps and ventilation holes. They come in several colors, including bright orange, which reminds me of the oversized shoes favored by circus clowns. They are fun, even funky; stylish they are not.

Intended as boat shoes

Crocs, introduced by a Colorado-based company about five years ago, originally were intended as boat shoes. They are made of a resin, which feels like soft rubber and clings to the feet. They also have ridged soles, which grip even slippery surfaces. They soon caught on with landlubbers, however, especially gardeners who love them because they can be hosed off, shaken dry and put right back on.

My Crocs Conversion came a few months ago. From time to time, when we were shopping, my bride would point them out and ask whether I would like a pair for puttering in the yard.

"Absolutely not!," I said. "I wouldn't be caught dead wearing anything that ugly."

Why, then, wasn't I surprised to find a pair of blue Crocs in my stocking Christmas morning? "Hmmph," I thought, "I'll stick them in the back of my closet, and, in a few months, when she's not looking, I'll slip them in the Goodwill bag." One day, my Birkenstocks wandered off somewhere, so in desperation, I slipped on the homely Crocs. "Whoa!," I said to myself. "Those are some comfortable shoes."

At first, I would wear them around the house or in the yard, but it wasn't long before I neglected to change footwear before running to the post office or the gas station. Eventually, I threw decorum to the wind and began wearing them everywhere but church -- and I haven't ruled that out ...

Which brings me back to the slanderous attacks against our president.

"Why, oh why, must people assimilate perfectly reasonable, functional and cheeky sports attire into street clothes? Why couldn't they keep their Crocs on the boat or in the garden?," wailed Givhan, The Washington Post fashion guru. She did concede that since the Crocs-clad president was headed for a day of biking, Mr. Bush probably found them better suited than the hard-soled shoes cyclists wear.

Socks with Crocs are a different issue, of course, but the president may have figured it was the best way to flaunt the First Socks, or would Ms. Givhan prefer he sported presidential-seal tattoos on his ankles?

Critics' deepest fear is that, having seen their president wearing Crocs, Americans will jettison any sense of style and taste, plunging lemming-like off the cliffs of fashion sense, ultimately depriving snobs like them a livelihood.

Here's my take: Mr. President, we know you work hard and if you want to slip off those uncomfortable wing tips and stroll around the Rose Garden in your Crocs, the media shouldn't make a federal case out of it.

P.S. Where can I get some of those neat socks?