The old joke about how President Obama wears mom jeans is a good one, as far as jokes about the President are concerned. On Friday, he tried to defend his denim, but we're here to set things straight.
Obama's recent trip to The Gap came up during his interview on Ryan Seacrest's radio show Friday morning. An employee complimented The First Dad on his understanding of girl's sizes, but noted the President might need a new pair of jeans. Obama took it kind of personally:
“I’ve been unfairly maligned about my jeans,” Obama jokes. “The truth is, generally I look very sharp in jeans. There was one episode like four years ago in which I was wearing some loose jeans mainly because I was out on the pitcher’s mound and I didn’t want to feel confined while I was pitching and I think I’ve paid my penance for that. I got whacked pretty good. Since that time, my jeans fit very well.”
The President claims he has worn acceptable pairs of jeans since at least 2009. We, dutiful journalists that we are, decided to fact check that claim. The results of our wide-ranging investigation reveal that he is, in fact, lying. The President has continued to wear terrible jeans long past 2009. Here's the proof.
2009 — The First Pitch — MLB All-Star Game, St. Louis, Missouri
This was, allegedly, the point when everyone noticed that maybe Obama wasn't as smooth a dresser as he is a talker. (Or: pitcher.) It was his second time wearing embarrassing jeans in public. He can drop rhetoric with the best of 'em, but these jeans were hideous. "For the baseball he played last night, [Obama] wore borderline Mom jeans. We say borderline because they're not quite as Momlike as the jeans he wore bike riding during the campaign," wrote The Cut's Amy O'Dell. Obama later apologized for his uncool moment on The Today Show. But let's roll the clock back a moment to the debut of Obama's bad jeans.
2008 — The Backfired Campaign Bike Ride — Chicago, Illinois
Before he was President Obama, he was Regular Guy Obama, trying to win America's heart with his regular guy bike rides across Chicago. Except this one blew up in his face because of those awful, horrible jeans. They are too short for his legs, the wash is atrocious, and those sneakers are not doing him any favors. This was the moment the "President Obama Wears Mom Jeans" meme began. The All-Star Game confirmed it, and he's been living it down ever since.
2010 — The Worst Offense — Spy Museum, Washington, D.C.
We're a little all over the place chronologically. But this shows that over the first three years of his Presidency, Obama never really learned to dress himself well when he's not in the standard blue suit. His jeans are still baggy, sure. At least they aren't too short around the ankle like the last two pairs. But there's enough room in there for a Pacific Ocean breeze and a few seagulls to live comfortably.
Worse: he paired the long, not-quite-faded-but-not-quite-fresh denim with black open-toed sandals, which is an unforgivable offense and — in the eyes of this blogger — possible grounds for impeachment. The second term was a mistake. Send him back. Where's Romney?
Curiously, around late 2011 or early 2012, pictures of Obama dressing casually almost entirely dry up. Which, it will be noted, was right around the time the Obama re-election campaign clicked into full gear. The Democrats realized they had a problem on their hands: no one would vote for a President campaigning in mom jeans. Maybe pictures of Obama wearing jeans in 2012 exist, but at least two Wire staffers searched and searched and came up with squat. A ruling was made. Jeans were clearly off limits during the re-election campaign. It's a decision Olivia Pope would make.
Which is fine, really. Obama doesn't have to wear jeans to be a human, or lead a country, though the public would probably prefer it. Jeans are the most democratic of pants, yes, but Obama is much more comfortable, say, in slacks on the golf course. That is not something we can begrudge him. As you can see, both at the right and above, Obama prefers to have a little room to breathe.
So we say: Let the man wear his pants the way he pleases, even if he does objectively look awful. And maybe Michelle should do the clothes shopping.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.