On Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered an impassioned speech to the United States Congress, during which he urged for the implementation of a no-fly zone, asked for additional aircraft and air defense systems, and called for the creation of a new security alliance – even as he vowed Ukraine will never join NATO.
Zelenskyy spoke virtualy from Kyiv and thanked President Joe Biden also for his “personal involvement” in the defence of Ukraine.
Respect has been shown for the leader of Ukraine’s social media accounts, where he is often plain-spoken but even plainer dressed. Peter Schiff, an investor adviser and financial pundit, challenged Zelenskyy’s decision to wear a certain outfit after Wednesday’s address.
I understand that times can be difficult, but does the president of #Ukraine not own a suit?” While I have little respect for the current U.S. Congress members, I wouldn’t speak to them in a tee-shirt. On Twitter, Schiff (@PeterSchiff wrote that I would not want to disrespect either the institution nor the United States.
Criticism quickly focused on Schiff and pointed out a typo in his tweet.
This is your worst ever take. Peter, this guy is not going anywhere with his clothing rack. @QTRResearch also corrected the spelling of ‘United States.’
Schiff replied, adding that despite all the responses, he had never noticed that typo. He wasn’t in combat on the battlefield. His face was powdered by someone. His hair looked great and was neatly trimmed. That t-shirt was his choice. He could’ve chosen something more informal.”
However, social media replies indicate that it appears the damage has been done.
Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets), Democratic strategist and former majority leader of the Suffolk County legislative, tweeted, “Good god, Peter, you’re a complete A**HOLE. It’s amazing that you didn’t delete this tweet already.
He is trying to save lives, and he puts his life on the line to do it – that speaks volumes about the man he really is.
John Law (@JohnLawMedia), a writer, said even blunter, “It’s March, but it’s the dumbest thing that I’ll ever see on Twitter this year.
Is it a joke? Kyiv is being brutally attacked with masses of civilians dying and Zelenskyy should think about a suit?”, tweeted Olga Lautman @OlgaNYC1211, senior fellow at Center for European Policy Analysis.
Schiff, on the other hand, was unaffected and said, “It’s just not about impressing anyone.” It is just about common respect. It’s just common respect. He doesn’t have to wear a suit because he isn’t on the battlefield with his nation. His t-shirts can be found in the same closet that he uses to reach for his suit.
For the record, Zelenskyy does own a suit – and he was even seen clean shaven in his speech at the Munich Security Conference on February 19, just five days before Russia launched its unprovoked attack on Ukraine.
Zelenskyy has been shown in the same green military t-shirt throughout multiple media appearances, despite his vow to stay in Ukraine’s capital. Reports suggest that he has little sleep and lives in a city under constant attack.
Schiff may also want to be reminded of José Sanjurjo y Sacanell, the Spanish general who led the July 1936 coup d’etat that started the Spanish Civil War. When he attempted to return to Spain, Sanjurjo was involved in an airplane crash that resulted in his death. Sanjurjo’s insistent on carrying heavy luggage was a major reason for Sanjurjo’s death. Sanjurjo stated that “I must wear proper clothing as the new caudillo” in Spain.
Similar to Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator and Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany were well known for wearing uniforms and well-tailored suits. Zelenskyy who fights for his country’s survival and chooses to wear a T-shirt instead of a suit should probably be regarded as more noble than others who simply want to look great.