In what critics are calling a clear act of political theater, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s 4-year-old son appeared at the White House Halloween party dressed as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a move that has raised eyebrows amidst the ongoing debate over U.S. financial involvement in Ukraine. President Joe Biden, perhaps unwittingly contributing to the spectacle, handed the child a box of White House M&Ms.
Blinken's kids dressed like Zelensky and the Ukrainian flag for the White House Halloween bash
— Libby Emmons (@libbyemmons) October 31, 2023
Donning Zelensky’s now-signature olive green sweatshirt—a garment that’s become as much a political statement as a piece of clothing since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—the youngster’s costume has sparked discussions of whether it’s appropriate to involve children in such complex geopolitical matters.
Joining the political dress-up, Blinken’s wife, Evan Ryan, and their daughter, who sported the Ukrainian flag’s colors, accompanied the young “Zelensky” in a show of family solidarity that some are criticizing as overt political pandering.
The White House Halloween event, which took place on Monday night, featured First Lady Jill Biden in a cat costume and the President distributing candy to children for about 90 minutes—seemingly a light-hearted affair. Yet, in the backdrop of these festivities, Blinken’s family costumes have stirred controversy.
Blinken, whose grandfather hailed from Kyiv in the days of the Russian Empire, may have personal connections to Ukraine, but as America’s financial aid to the war-torn nation climbs past $113 billion, discontent is brewing. In a Republican-controlled House where many conservatives are already wary of the U.S. footing the bill for international conflicts, Blinken’s choice to dress his son as Zelensky has been perceived by some as a tone-deaf act of political posturing.
Echoing the sentiments of fiscal conservatives, House Speaker Mike Johnson has made it clear that any further aid to Ukraine would need to be balanced by cuts in other areas of the federal budget—a stance that starkly contrasts the seemingly celebratory gestures of the Blinken family.