Mr. Cheney meets Mr. Blackwell and more

Normally my reaction so a government official not dressing in the manner expected of him would be: Why in the world is this in the news? I like to talk about policy, not personal gaffes. I'm doing it now, and I still think it's sort of hackish. I'm bringing it up because of an article in the Washington Post Style section talking about Dick Cheney's dress at Auschwitz.

The relevant quote from the article is:
The ceremony at the Nazi death camp was outdoors, so those in attendance, such as French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin, were wearing dark, formal overcoats and dress shoes or boots. Because it was cold and snowing, they were also wearing gentlemen's hats. In short, they were dressed for the inclement weather as well as the sobriety and dignity of the event.

The vice president, however, was dressed in 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. It is embroidered with his name....

Like other attendees, the vice president was wearing a hat. But it was not a fedora or a Stetson or a fur hat or any kind of hat that one might wear to a memorial service as the representative of one's country. Instead, it was a knit ski cap, embroidered with the words "Staff 2001." ...

It is also worth mentioning that Cheney was wearing hiking boots -- thick, brown, lace-up ones. Did he think he was going to have to hike the 44 miles from Krakow -- where he had made remarks earlier in the day -- to Auschwitz?
When I did a little more looking into it, I decided this is worthy of a news story In particular, the important aspect is that other countries will view it as a snub. A couple of anecdotes I found about this. A commenter named Mr. Jauk at Political Animal says:
All those of you decrying the non-newsworthiness of this post, should stop living in a cocoon. This stuff really does matter to people around the world. During the time that I was living in Croatia, Bill Clinton made a short visit to Zagreb (to meet with the President and other leading politicos) after having visited US troops in neighboring Bosnia.
Bubba showed up in his brown leather bomber jacket, and some oh-so-tight khakis (too many Big Macs at the Tuzla base, I guess), and for weeks all most Croatians would talk about was how utterly devoid of respect the gesture was. "He should have been wearing a suit", "couldn't he have changed on plane?", etc., were the comments. And this, during a time when the Croats universally respected him and the US govt for having helped during the war in the early 1990s. So don't think that this isn't a big deal.
Another blogger says that the Polish have been discussing this story for the last day and see it as an insult. I'm still not totally comfortable with this being a news story, but I don't really have anything else to talk about today.

Except that I've been working for a while on a rambling, semi-coherent response to the lead editorial (I'm not sure if it's behind their's pay wall or not) from last week's Economist which makes that contrarian claim that corporate social responsibility is bad, and that corporations do all the good they should do by being rationally profit-maximizing. I'm not sure when (or if) I'll get my response done, so to give some flavor of it, here is a link to a June NYTimes Magazine article which illustrates what I see as some of the Economist articles flaws. The article is by Michael Lewis, who is worth reading no matter what he's talking about and is especially good here. It's part of NYTimes archive, so normally you'd have to pay for it. Fortunately, someone took the trouble to copy and paste it onto their site, and I was able to find it there, rather than copy and paste it from Lexis myself. Ignore there annoying bright blue background, and read the article.