Birkenstocks are out of the question.

"'Boots on the ground.' It's what the Obama administration told us that we needn't worry about. It's what lawmakers and pundits said that voters could never abide.
Ben Wiseman for the NYT. Originally published with this op-ed.
No 'boots on the ground.' Definitely not 'boots on the ground.' It was if we were talking about footwear: rest assured folks, wingtips and Birkenstocks are out of the question. But we were talking about lives, about American servicemen and servicewomen, the kind who were dispatched for dubious reasons to Iraq and the less dubious ones to Afghanistan, some of whom didn't come back, some of whom will never be the same." (3, Sunday Review)

Bruni, Frank. The New York Times, Sunday September 15, 2013.

When clothing-based euphemisms become abstractions. Regardless of how you feel about war/Syria/Iraq/Afghanistan, this is an interesting case of how overuse can eliminate or obfuscate meaning. As Bruni mentions at the end of his op-ed, there are human beings in each of those boots (as well as in each pair of Syrian boots, although this is not mentioned).

Is it especially easy to obscure when the turn of phrase includes clothing/fashion-based terminology? Does this have something to do with the anonymity of uniforms? The physical and emotional distance from the war most of us enjoy, and boots here just happen to be universal to the servicemen and servicewomen far from home?