Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Roberts Memos

Reporters are now poring over the thousands of John Roberts memos that were recently released by the National Archives.

These caught my eye:

TO: The President
FROM: John Roberts
RE: Socks

The question presented is whether the President must wear evening socks of silk to the upcoming birthday party for Betsy Bloomingdale, which the President and First Lady plan to attend, or may the President wear black socks of sea island cotton?

Although the wearing of silk evening socks may be perceived as elitist by some so-called "working class" critics on the left, it is equally plausible that the wearing of cotton socks would be perceived as a shallow attempt by the President to express solidarity with some purported underclass. On the other hand, the fact that the cotton socks are woven of the finest cotton from the Sea Islands of Georgia, cotton reputed to be favored by wealthy white men of means, could be perceived as an affront to those who used to pick it.

Nonetheless, in some circles, cotton, while certainly more exalted than nylon and rayon and similar synthetics, is viewed to be the "common man's fabric" by those who pay attention to these sorts of things.

Because etiquette calls for silk evening socks, and because to wear cotton socks could be perceived as pandering by the President to the so-called working class, it is advisable that the President don the silk evening socks. In so doing, it is likely that he will be viewed as a man who is confident in his own skin, not to mention his own evening wear, as opposed to a man who needs to seek the counsel of lawyers prior to taking the most trivial decision.

TO: The President
FROM: John Roberts
RE: Saddle, riding attire

The question presented is whether the President should wear English or Western riding attire, and use English or Western tack in his photo session with Life magazine.

The President will be photographed riding one of his horses. He has available to him both English and Western style tack, and English and Western style riding attire. English style riding attire consists of jodphurs and, usually, high boots of smooth black leather. Occasionally, particularly when the rider means to have his horse jump fences, a velvet cap over a hard hat is worn.

Western riding attire consists of jeans, tooled cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat. Sometimes chaps and ornate spurs complete the ensemble. Other decorative items, such as bolo ties, may also be worn.

Obviously, if the President wears English attire, and uses an English saddle, he may be perceived as "elitist," "upper-class," "effete," or "gay." And of course, although many Americans are not attuned to the differences between English and Western riding styles, those who do know the difference may well resent the implication that the President has chosen East Coast modes and styles over the rugged American individualism that the Western style signifies.

On the other hand, if the President elects to pose in full Western riding regalia, there exists the perception that he will be mistaken for one of the Village People. Whereas for him to proudly don jodphurs and mount an English saddle would symbolize his manliness and defiant refusal to be defined by cultural stereotypes. Moreover - at the risk of pandering to the affirmative action crowd - any doubts engendered by the President's appearance in riding breeches would be alleviated if the First Lady were to balance things out by wearing cowboy boots and riding a Western saddle.

For the aforementioned reasons, I would recommend that the President wear his English riding attire and use an English saddle in the photo shoot, and that the First Lady wear Western riding attire and use a Western saddle.

TO: The President
FROM: John Roberts
RE: Rumsfeld meeting with Saddam Hussein

The question presented is whether Donald Rumsfeld should meet with Iraq's president Saddam Hussein, convey to him the President's warm regards and approval, and be photographed with Mr. Hussein.

Sure, why not?

TO: The President
FROM: John Roberts
RE: The First Lady's astrologer

The question presented is whether the President and First Lady should seek the counsel of an astrologer to guide their daily personal and political decisions.

While it is my opinion that the President should continue to rely upon legal counsel in all matters great and small, I see no harm in the President's and First Lady's entertaining themselves by consulting an astrologer.

As long as they don't get caught doing it.


publius at Legal Fiction has an excellent round-up of some of the Roberts memos.

See also Dahlia Lithwick at Slate.


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