As a general rule, if something is red, white and blue and you are supposed to wave it around or set it off or wear it to show how proud you are of your country, chances are that it was manufactured in China.
The uniforms for Olympic Team USA are no exception.
Of course they were made in China. This is a distinction they share with most fireworks, those tiny flags that you wave on the Fourth of July, and pretty much every kitschy snow globe with the Washington Monument inside it.
Designed by Ralph Lauren, they have been plagued with troubles from the get-go. First off, they include berets. (“What is this, France?” everyone asked in unison.) Second off, the Lauren logo is so large you can scarcely tell that these are Olympians at all. At the rate the logo is increasing in size, soon instead of Ralph Lauren shirts you will be required to strap a live polo player to your chest and stroll around with him. On the bright side, this does exactly what all Ralph Lauren clothes do best: demonstrate how wealthy you are.
Look, the point of high fashion is not to make the wearer look good or feel comfortable. As a general rule, if you are able to eat meatloaf in your outfit and all the seams hold and none of the buttons pop off, you are not wearing haute couture. Fashion makes a statement. (The statement most of my outfits make is “I lost a bet.”) The statement the Team USA’s uniforms make is “Hey, the United States remains heavily beholden to China!”
But this is the Olympics, and Congress has run out of things to do (this week, the House repealed Obamacare for the 33rd time!) and so Harry Reid is getting upset about it.
Deeply, deeply upset. He wants us to put the uniforms on a pile and burn them! Actually! “I think the Olympic Committee should be ashamed of themselves,” he said. “I think they should be embarrassed. I think they should take all the uniforms and put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again.”
You can’t do that! Some friends of mine did that once to a school uniform and they suffered from Scotchgard inhalation for weeks afterwards.
It should go without saying that the U.S. Olympic committee should have insisted the uniforms be made in the United States. But like most things that should go without saying, it won’t.
Better, Reid says, that the U.S. athletes wear “nothing but a singlet that says ‘USA’ on it, painted by hand.”
Give him credit for coming up with the most patriotic, indignant possible way of saying, “Man, I wish those attractive, well-muscled U.S. athletes were wearing fewer clothes!”
First off, I am in favor of this, because, hey, did you see the recent issue of Sports Illustrated? Those athletes should not be swathed in heavy layers of foreign-manufactured cloth. Their lithe forms should be allowed to breathe as freely as possible.
Frankly, Reid did not go far enough.
I think the best outfit would be what we make in the U.S.: nothing. Or rather, Hollywood movies, Internet controversies and manufactured indignation, possibly in some sort of bandolier. But manufactured indignation is hard to wear well.
Reid and everyone else weighing in on this controversy would know.