Peter Orszag's Cowboy Boots
I have much to say about Monday's lifting of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. Column coming. But in the meantime, I noticed that the folks at the Huffington Post are declaring their love for budget director Peter Orszag.
It started last week when HuffPo posed the question, "Who's the hottest person in the White House?" Apparently, they left Orszag off the list, and some readers were dismayed -- to the point that the Web site granted him an honorable mention. Many may be familiar with his resume -- Exeter, Princeton, London School of Economics, Marshall Scholar, 40, divorced, two kids. But do they know that beneath that close-cropped haircut and that pin-striped suit, Orszag wears...cowboy boots?
Men may scoff. Women may be offended at such trite observations. But footwear may be the only statement some people can make at a certain level. Red high heels, anyone? I noticed Orszag's boots while sharing a green room this past Sunday before Face The Nation, and I asked him the obvious: "Are you from Texas?"
No. He's not. The boots are a small gesture of rebellion, he said. Well, hell yeah.
His reply was offered rather bashfully, but also practiced. I suspect he's been asked about those boots a time or two. They're black and scrolled, for the record. And not new, thank goodness. A boyish budget baron who wears the satisfied look of someone who actually knows what to do with a sliderule couldn't get away with brand spanking new boots.
In the Washington whirl of high-octane politics and performance -- not to mention a trillion-plus budget deficit that has people organizing tea parties (not the polite kind) -- Orszag can't have much room for frivolity. Wearing cowboy boots may be the government man's tattoo -- a way to buffer expectations of perfection, as well as to cut a swath through corridors doubtless crowded with clods. Hi-yo, Silver, away!
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