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The Great Socks And Crocs Debate

Below, CBS News White House Correspondent Mark Knoller takes issue with criticism of some of President Bush's sartorial choices…

Of all the things for which you can legitimately criticize Pres. Bush, should his footwear be among them?

Sure it's fair game. And Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan took aim and fired in the "Style" section of today's paper.

In a Page One above-the-fold appraisal, the Post published a photo of Pres. Bush dressed in a manner that even he would agree was very casual. He was waving to reporters as he left the White House recently for some bike riding on the grounds of the U.S. Secret Service Training Facility in Beltsville, Maryland.

The Post enlarged the picture of Mr. Bush's left foot to give a better illustration of what Givhan found to be such a fashion faux-pas.

"Bush's decision to wear black socks with his Crocs was ill-considered," wrote Given.

Socks with Crocs? Oh, no!

By Crocs, she meant those resin slip-ons with the ventilation holes and heel strap that have become so popular of late.

It's one thing, in her view, to wear them on bare feet. But the President had on a pair of black biking socks embroidered with the presidential seal on them.

Aghast, Givhan wrote that "the combination makes one think of an old man on his way to the beach."

True, he's no youngster. He turns 61 on July 6th. And the rest of his ensemble that day was nothing you'd see in Gentleman's Quarterly: a white shortsleeve shirt over a pair of black shorts. He wore a cap with a likeness of Barney the presidential pooch on it. Casual – with a vegeance.

But so what. I've seen worse. Alot worse. Especially in the mirror.

When I asked spokeswoman Dana Perino about the criticism, she feigned exasperation that anyone would criticize the president for his footwear.

"Those are garden shoes, for crying out loud," she declared responding to my e-mail. She said the President wears them alot, though not always with socks.

Pressed for further comment, Perino said "President Bush has never won a fashion contest, he prefers to win elections."

He would certainly win the socks vote.

What's most important to remember about the critique about Mr. Bush's footwear is that in the great scheme of things, it's next to meaningless.

It's a fun read, a bit of over-the-backyard-fence gossip: "Did you see what he was wearing on his feet?"

And most important for Robin Givhan – it filled her column for the week.

And I'll bet a closet of Crocs and a drawer full of socks that Pres. Bush doesn't care one bit about what someone in the press thinks of his biking footwear.

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