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Obama’s tan suit controversy hits 5-year anniversary

On this day five years ago, then-President Obama shocked the press and political pundits alike over a decision he made that is now jokingly referred to as one of his administration’s “biggest scandals.”

Obama decided to wear a tan suit.

{mosads}The controversy went viral on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. That day, Obama had prepared to hold a press conference to address the nation on ISIS and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. However, it was his outfit that ended up sending commentators and social media users into a frenzy at the time. 

The fashion choice from the president came with great surprise then given his, and other politicians’, propensity toward darker suits. 

“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” Obama said in 2012. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

Analytics pulled at the time showed that there were more than 4,000 tweets posted during the 2014 press conference about Obama’s suit. A number of popular viral puns also sprung from the moment, including “The Audacity of Taupe,” and a large number of memes.

However, amid some of the jokes that came from the rare fashion moment, there were a number of critics of the president who said the suit was inappropriate for the occasion.

Longtime Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) said at the time that the suit showed a “lack of seriousness” taken by the president, saying: “There’s no way I don’t think any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday.”

“ISIS is watching,” he continued. “If you were the head of ISIS, if you were Baghdadi, if you were anyone in the ISIS, would you come away from yesterday afraid of the United States? Would you be afraid that the United States was going to use all its power to crush ISIS? Or would you think here’s a person who’s going to go out and do a few fundraisers over the Labor Day weekend?”

Other critics asked what message the president was trying to send with the suit. 

Fox Business commentator Lou Dobbs said then that he thought the suit was “shocking to a lot of people” and asked on Twitter, “What message is the President trying to send?” 

Now, five years later, droves of people are taking to social media to recognize what some have referred to as a “simpler time” when juxtaposed with some of the latest scandals of the current administration.

Others have pointed to the viral moment as an example of where the media fell short on its coverage of the former president’s other not-so-lighthearted controversies.

The critics at the time were not limited to political opponents and pundits.

The president also took heat from fashion experts, including GQ’s Jake Woolf, who called the suit “sad” and “terrible” and provided “tweaks” to help Obama look more “presidential.” 

Despite the whirlwind brought on by Obama’s suit choice, the White House released a statement the day after saying he “stands squarely behind the decision that he made yesterday to wear his summer suit at yesterday’s news conference.”

“It’s the Thursday before Labor Day. He feels pretty good about it,” the office added.

Tags Barack Obama David Cicilline Lou Dobbs Obama presidency Pete King Tan suit Vladimir Putin
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