De Feet of Inquiry
So, who noticed that the Vice President met Hosni Mubarak this week in casual oxfords?
Social psychology tells us that most people try not to attend too closely to infirmities in others. To focus on a physical deficit (such as a deformed limb), or a psychological affliction (such as a nervous tic), is considered indiscreet or an act of disrespect. And this attitude applies doubly when the situation involves an "elder." This might be one reason why images involving Dick Cheney's recent public appearances haven't circulated widely, or why certain details might be missed or minimized when they do.
As a physical disaster zone, Mr. Cheney seems happy to take advantage of the social discretion. If one were to look more freely (at the press reports as well as the pictures), it would be hard to miss that Cheney is hobbling. He has made a number of trips to the hospital in recent days and months, which the Administration has either downplayed or tried to keep silent. The last visit (based on shortness of breath) was quickly waved off as a medication issue, although the L.A. Times did have the courage (the White House would say, the "audacity") to raise an eyebrow over the incident, even quoting a specialist who questioned whether the administered treatment fit the purported diagnosis.
"Lower shot" of Veep at Fort Leavenworth while awarding medals to troops -- January 6th
Concomitant with (and possibly even related to) Cheney's heart condition is a persistent foot ailment which has no clear explanation, or else multiple explanations (a toe? a heel? gout? a bone spur?) (... Assuredly though, it has nothing to do with the surgery last September to remove aneurysms from behind both knees). Whether it's just his feet, or a more dire set of problems, however, it would be a lot easier to tell if Cheney can still fill the V.P.'s shoes if the press and the people stopped giving him the free pass.
On the other hand (or foot), however, one might also consider that Cheney met Mubarak "out of uniform" based as much on pure arrogance. (Remember when Dick caused something of a stir last year when he showed up at the Auschwitz liberation ceremony in a parka and a ski hat?) More likely, it seems that health considerations and arrogant disrespect are both factors, especially (if Cheney's health gives him the excuse to flaunt rules of dress).
The best evidence for this is the condition of these shoes.
Personally, I wouldn't let my young son attend an official function with his shoes looking near as shitty as Cheney's do. I mean, don't they have valets for that? Also, you can't tell me that Cheney -- when he was trolling for international business at Halliburton -- would dare sit down with a client with footwear in this condition, especially the way he's known to attend to his shoes.
And then, aren't the Arabs particularly sensitive to this type of discourtesy?
(image 1 and 3: Khaled Desouki/AFP. January 17, 2006. Cairo, Egypt. Via YahooNews. image 2: Ed Zurga/AP. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. January 6, 2006. Via YahooNews.)