Cheney’s Auschwitz Outfit

Cheney’s Attire Draws Ire (CBS-AP)

Photo: Vice President Dick Cheney at Auschwitz Vice President Dick Cheney’s utilitarian hooded parka and boots stood out amid the solemn formality of a ceremony commemorating the liberation of Nazi death camps, raising eyebrows among the fashion-conscious.

Cheney replaced the zipped-to-the-neck green parka he sported in Thursday’s blowing snow and freezing wind with a more traditional black coat — red tie and gray scarf showing underneath — for his tour of Auschwitz on Friday.

Washington Post fashion writer Robin Givhan described Cheney’s look at the deeply moving 60th anniversary service as “the kind of attire one typically wears to operate a snow blower.”

“Cheney stood out in a sea of black-coated world leaders because he was wearing an olive drab parka with a fur-trimmed hood,” Givhan wrote in Friday’s Post, also mocking Cheney’s knit ski cap embroidered with the words “Staff 2001” and his brown, lace-up hiking boots. “The vice president looked like an awkward child amid the well-dressed adults,” she said.

I must admit, it’s a most odd sartorial selection, albeit one that looks imminently more practical for the weather. Apparently, the fellow sitting behind him in the Russian-style bear hat agreed. One presumes there’s an explanation.

For that matter, I was somewhat surprised that President Bush didn’t attend this himself, since it appears that was the norm.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Kappiy says:

    I was surprised as well that Bush didn’t go to the ceremony. Of course, if he were to be in Europe, he would have been expected to go to Davos for the World Economic Forum.

    A well-timed speech at Davos, could have been a useful attempt at breaking the dollar’s slide. This, however, would have required some persuasive diplomatic skills–something Bush has not demonstrated with regard to many European leaders.

    It is also weird that Cheney wouldn’t attend Davos–the administration sending Cabinet powerhouse Elaine Chao instead.

    The administration needs to start taking European diplomacy more seriously–since the devaluation of the dollar overseen by Bush could continue to plummet. Yu Yongding’s statements yesterday were not reassuring. A selloff of the dollar in favor of the Euro by China would severely hamper our economy, sending the dollar into an Argentian-like spiral.

    Symbolic things–like dressing appropriately for a memorial ceremony–can be useful in building confidence between allies.

  2. McGehee says:

    I’m sorry, Kappiy, but I find it extremely difficult to take seriously anyone who can read major diplomatic significance into this. If that includes European diplomats, so be it. If they want to be taken seriously they need to make noise about real issues, not a damn coat.

  3. JasonC says:

    I can see how conservatives don’t understand why this is an actual news item. It does seem rather silly. But look at the man. He looks utterly ridiculous in a place where such an appearance is, er, not so appropriate.

  4. Brian J. says:

    Yeah, you ill-tailored conservatives, looks and feelings are the important thing!!!!

  5. Of course, Russian Bear Caps ™ ARE seen as a sofisticated thing to wear in the cold.

    Who makes up these rules, anyway?

  6. Kappiy says:

    McGehee – I agree with your sentiment that what Cheney wears shouldn’t be an issue; but diplomacy is all about perceptions. Something like this gets blown up in a European press that is already critical of the Bush administration.

    The stupidity of Europeans getting worked up over Cheney’s attire is a less important discussion than recognizing that they do, in fact, care about these perceptual matters. Most of Bush’s deficit spending is made possible by central banks reserves in Europe and Asia. If these central banks start systematically dumping the dollar for alternative currencies, our economy will suffer significantly.

    There are many reasons why it is in Europe’s interest not to see that happen, but, nonetheless, markets are fickle and subject to caprice. A wise diplomatic strategy for Bush would be to look seriously at European public & governmental sentiment and attempt to build up trust. The politics of symbolism matters in these endeavors.

  7. Ian says:

    Actually he is wearing this because of his heart condition. Cold is not good for anyone with heart problems .

  8. OJ says:

    The reason neither Bush nor Cheney attended the economic summit in Davos is because they have extended an olive-branch to the Europeans. The next move is theirs. Had Condi been confirmed by the Senate, I am positive she would have attended both events. She is the Bush administration’s showcase for tolerance and acceptence – above and beyond her obvious skill for the position.
    I do think it would have been appropriate for Bush to go to Poland though. Nice chance to make an appearance and have a few meetings with one of our stronger allies in Europe right now.

  9. Kappiy says:


    Just curious, what’s the “olive branch” you’re referring to?

    Rice could have gone to Davos (and could still go, for that matter) as Secretary of State since the forum started on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. Switzerland is only about a 6 1/2 hour flight from the US.

    She was sworn in on Wednesday.

  10. dw says:

    This will be a caption contest photo, correct? Because I have three written for it already.

  11. Sam says:

    Hey, if DICK is so sensitive to the cold, why didn’t he wear his parka to the inauguration?

    And Kappiy is right about the importance of appearances to the Euros. It’s not so much that George Bush is an idiot, it’s that he looks, sounds, and acts like an idiot.

  12. Anderson says:

    Maybe Cheney needed extra gear for his heart condition, but this *is* Dick Cheney we’re talking about—he could afford something warm that didn’t look like it came off the rack at Wal-Mart.

    Considering how assiduous Cheney et al. are in attending to appearances in their politics, they can’t very well pretend to be insensitive to them on the other side of the Atlantic.