Instead of his rapid reversal of Donald Trump’s most contentious policies and an ambitious, trillion-dollar COVID-19 plan, a number of Americans are distracted by Joe Biden’s watch.
The expensive timepiece worn by the newly minted US President has sparked fury, and not just in conservative ranks.
Mr Biden’s US$7000 (AU$9000) Rolex first stole attention at his inauguration in Washington DC last week.
The hefty price tag was a source of criticism, but so too was the fancy watch was made in Switzerland, as it marked one of the new president’s first breaks with his predecessors, who chose watches a bit more modest and manufactured domestically – the type of industry Mr Biden says he wants to promote.
Biden’s stainless steel Rolex Datejust “is a far cry from the Everyman timepieces that every president not named Trump has worn conspicuously in recent decades,” The New York Times wrote, referring to just-departed head of state Donald Trump.
The new president is of course not the first to wear a Rolex, sharing the fashion preference with Dwight Eisenhower, Lyndon B Johnson and Ronald Reagan.
But since the presidency of Bill Clinton, American leaders have tended towards more low-profile or patriotic timepieces.
Clinton’s chose a Timex Ironman, but that won him no kudos from The Washington Post, which after his 1993 inauguration described it as “a plastic digital watch thick as a brick and handsome as a hernia.”
His successor George W Bush was even more the penny pincher, wearing a Timex model costing less than $50.
Barack Obama, whom Biden served under as vice president for his two terms in office, went with American watchmakers like Detroit-based Shinola or California’s Jorg Gray.
Known for his love of all things gold, Trump’s wrist bore a Patek Philippe Golden Ellipse, a Rolex or a Vacheron Constantin.
Biden’s fans on Twitter collectively rolled their eyes at the wristwatch ruckus.
Trump foe and former Star Trek actor George Takei tweeting “No (New York Times) we don’t care what watch Joe Biden wore, like we never cared about Obama’s tan suit.”
The ticker is one of a collection of high-end Swiss watches owned by the commander in chief, the report noted.
Mr Biden has also been seen wearing an Omega Speedmaster and an Omega Seamaster, each of which retails for up to US$6000 (AU$8500).
The implicit criticism of the new president set off reams of angry tweets.
“Headlines complaining about Biden’s Peloton and Rolex after 4 years of a dude with a literal gold toilet are beyond parody,” Laura Bassett, a writer for GQ, wrote.
“They must be real bored at the Times. There’s nothing else to focus on?” complained Crooked Media host Akilah Hughes. “Shut up.”
“What’s the worst presidential scandal,” pondered Vox correspondent Ian Millhiser, “the time when Biden wore a Rolex, the time when Obama ordered Dijon mustard, or the time when Trump encouraged a insurrectionist mob to violently seize the Capitol in a vain attempt to overturn an election that he lost?”
The report came days after news that Biden’s Peloton exercise bike might be banned from the White House because its networking features pose a security risk.
Parts of this story originally appeared in the New York Post and are reproduced here with permission
– with AFP