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Opening Arguments

Naked politics


Obama, his family, and friends went snorkeling yesterday at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Hawaii, but White House aides kept the press far, far away.

"We are under explicit instructions that there will be no long lenses or other sneaky attempts to take pictures," said a media pool report from the site.

[. . .]

Obama's team -- and presumably Obama himself -- have been sensitive about swim photos since a now-famous shirtless photo taken before Obama moved into the White House. Neither the president (nor wife Michelle Obama) were said to be pleased when a picture of him emerging from the surf went viral.

I'm not quite sure what the big deal is. Is it that Mrs. Obama gets jealous thinking about other women swooning over the presidential chest? Or is it thought to be too unpresidential to be seen shirtless? Most of the presidents in my lifetime have been seen in less-than-formal attire from time to time, and it helped make them seem a little more like normal people (Richard Nixon is the obvious exception that occurs to me). Maybe they should even institutionalize it with a Casual Friday for presidents.

Let's draw the line at knees, though. Seeing that the leader of the free world has knees as ugly as everybody else's might not be good for the national psyche.