Who says bipartisanship is dead? Republicans and Democrats alike erupted in competitive outrage this week upon learning that Ralph Lauren's beret-and-blazer outfits for the U.S. Olympic team were made in China. Republican House Speaker John Boehner said Lauren and the Olympic Committee should "know better," especially when so many Americans have lost their jobs. Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, took the gold medal for patriotic fury, however, saying we should pile up the outfits, which cost roughly $2,000 a pop, and burn them. The controversy isn't new — the team's outfits for the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening ceremony were also made in China. Should Ralph Lauren have learned a lesson?
Yes. This is a disgrace: These uniforms could easily have been manufactured in the U.S., fashion designer Nanette Lepore tells ABC News, and maybe even for less. Farming out the job sends a terrible message. If "we have pride not only in the American athletes, but in the American manufacturers and laborers who are the backbone of our country," we should show it.
"Team USA to be decked out in uniforms made in China"
Ralph Lauren did nothing wrong: Give the "outrageous outrage" a rest, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. Americans make hardly any "clothing anymore, we just design it." Bullying people to buy American out of patriotism, instead of letting the market dictate decisions, can actually hurt the economy. Besides, this is a privately funded endeavor. As long as the look doesn't feature bare midriffs or Che Guevara emblems, the Olympic Committee should "dress up the athletes how they like."
"Harry Reid: We should seriously 'burn' those Olympic uniforms"
Bad politics, good business: Maybe "Lauren should've thought twice about outsourcing the production of the clothes," says Jada Wong at Styleite, "for patriotic reasons." However, to make money, Lauren has to spend as little as possible to stitch together these outfits, and the simple truth is that Chinese laborers "will work for less money than Americans." So stop pretending you're shocked. This is business, not politics.
"Cue outrage: Ralph Lauren's Olympics uniforms made in China"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- How Scotland's independence movement lost the vote and still won everything
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
Subscribe to the Week