Wardrobe malfunction


Wardrobe malfunction
Former U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: Allison Joyce/AFP via Getty Images.

Kathleen Parker Praises Donald Trump's Sartorial Style

IT WAS HARD, in 2023, to imagine that political discourse could get measurably stupider than it was. But then Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared that he was ending the chamber's unwritten dress code. Functionally and practically, it was an incredibly small-bore decision: Schumer was simply granting Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, who had taken to lurking in the cloakroom, permission to walk out on the floor in his preferred outfit of a hoodie and basketball shorts.

The very smallness of it, though, gave people a chance to let their opinions run wild, unconstrained by any reference to policy or substance. Probably Fetterman's clothing habits are related to his ongoing recovery from a stroke and his hospitalization for clinical depression, but he and Schumer weren't claiming so, which meant everyone could posture about pure symbolism. Sen. Rand Paul, who appears to have spent his career refusing even to touch a hair comb, did some social media posting about going to work in a bathrobe. The multimillionaire financier turned senator J.D. Vance, who wrote a whole memoir about how he was better than the poor people he grew up around, declared dressing down to be an insult to the working class. Sen. Joe Manchin announced he was going to introduce a resolution to restore the dress code, even though the dress code had never formally codified in the first place.

And then it was pundit time! "Dressing formally conveys respect for the sanctity of the institution and for the real-world impact of the policies it advances," the Washington Post editorial board intoned. Speaking of real-world impact and the sanctity of the Senate, Joe Manchin more or less singlehandedly doubled the nation's child poverty rate, and when those dreaded gym shorts wear out, he can burn them with the other dirty hydrocarbons in his personal toxic garbage-coal plant. But he won't abide slovenliness.

The New York Times style desk found a professor to argue that "this new 'code-free code' poses special challenges for women," even as she noted that the whole idea of business wear had always been "a standard created for men." Before the Fetterman change, the Times news coverage had noted, the last challenge to the Senate dress code was in 2019, when Sen. Amy Klobuchar "successfully pushed leaders to allow women to wear sleeveless dresses."

But that was nothing next to Kathleen Parker of the Post:

As little as I have loved Republicans the past few years, coinciding with the rise of our own little autocrat, at least Donald Trump knows how to dress. I can’t imagine that even he would demean his office or his country by dressing down, as is now the “code” for senators.

"At least," the Pulitzer-winning columnist wrote, "Donald Trump knows how to dress."

It's hard to imagine a better demonstration of the respectable reactionary mind. Seeing a chance to speak out against the "manners" of a liberal populist figure—"who proudly outfits himself as the biggest schlump ever to enter the Russell Senate Office Building"...."Frankenstein’s monster would be offended"—Parker somehow came up with as dumb and false a claim as any major-newspaper columnist has ever delivered. Donald Trump is a flagrantly, legendarily bad dresser, by far the worst-dressed president as far back as the photographic record goes, unable to translate either his vanity or his fortune into getting a suit that comes close to fitting him.

This is not about ideology; Ronald Reagan looked unquestionably great in clothes. He was a terrible president, but he knew how to wear a suit. Reagan looked terrific in casualwear, too, which—contrary to an army of Parker-esque myth-makers—he sometimes wore in the Oval Office.

Donald Trump has one sartorial idea: blue suit, white shirt, and red tie. And he can't even do that right. His suits gape and sag; his shirt collars are smeared with stray spray-tan or bronzer; his ties dangle four inches longer than they should—almost certainly because he's obsessed with making sure they can never ride up and expose his shirtfront over his belly. When he dresses down, it's in embarrassingly clingy golf shirts and badly fitting khakis. Fetterman may be dressed for the Home Depot parking lot, but at least he looks the way a big guy wants to look on the Home Depot parking lot.

Somehow, following the imperatives of her job and her social position, Parker endorsed the Trump look as good and respectable—worthy of her father, who "wore the Army Air Corps uniform with pride and later went to his office wearing a suit or at least a blazer, trousers and always a tie, depending on his calendar." Do tell, ma'am. What ever would your daddy have said about a man who wears a baseball cap indoors?


New York City, September 24, 2023

★ The driving rain carried through the night right into dawn before pausing in late morning. Radar made it seem as if more pauses were coming, but the breaks were nearly as dark and dripping as the showers proper. The tropical weather was cold and raw to stand outside in; the younger boy regretfully traded in his shorts and t-shirt for long pants and long sleeves to go to his music lesson. Everywhere was blue gloom, long before nightfall. The humidity made it so stuffy that the bedroom window had to come up, to let in the still-soggy, but cooler, night air.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 152: Wackos.

Tom Scocca • Sep 25, 2023

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WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of select sandwiches from Trinity Cook Book: Our Choice Recipes, by Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, published in 1925. This book is in the Public Domain and available at archive.org for the delectation of all.

"Things which in hungry mortals' eyes find favor."

Grind equal parts of boiled country ham, cheese, sweet pickles, and pimentoes and put together with cooked dressing. If too sour add little sugar.

Use bread one day old; brown bread or baker's bread make the best sandwiches. Some kinds of box biscuit are good to use with cheese or olive fillings. Various sandwich fillings are as follows: (1) Chopped dates and peanuts, moistened with lemon juice. (2) Chopped figs and dates or raisins, with English walnuts, hickory nuts, almonds, pecans, or peanuts, mixed with meringue or Gelfand's mayonnaise. (3) Olives, chopped fine, with lettuce and Gelfand's mayonnaise. (4) Pimentoes, lettuce, and Gelfand's mayonnaise. (5) Pimento cheese, lettuce or olives, and Gelfand's mayonnaise. (6) Cream cheese grated, with pimentoes or olives, lettuce, and Gelfand's mayonnaise. (7) Lettuce with Gelfand's mayonnaise. (8) Grated cheese and chopped nuts. Butter the bread. (9) Chopped nuts rolled and mixed with Gelfand's mayonnaise or cream. (10) Hard-boiled eggs chopped and mixed with Gelfand's mayonnaise, lettuce, pepper, and celery salt. (11) Minced chicken and nuts chopped fine, mix with cream. Use white or brown bread. (12) Minced tongue, Gelfand's mayonnaise, lettuce if desired.

To keep sandwiches from drying out, put them into a vessel with a wet cloth over the top, then cover tight.

Whites of two eggs, beaten to a stiff froth. Add slowly two tablespoonsful sugar. Flavor with lemon juice, nutmeg or vanilla. Nice to mix with chopped nuts and raisins, dates or figs.

Make sandwiches of either white or brown bread twenty-four hours old. Cut in very thin even slices, then cut in squares, triangles, or stamp with round or fanciful shaped cutters. Do not spread butter or filling too near the edge as it is liable to soil the fingers or gloves. Cream the butter with a wooden spoon to make it spread easier.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, kindly send a picture to us at indignity@indignity.net.


19 FOLKTALES collects a series of timeless tales of canny animals, foolish people, monsters, magic, ambition, adventure, glory, failure, inexorable death, and ripe fruits and vegetables. Written by Tom Scocca and richly illustrated by Jim Cooke, these fables stand at the crossroads of wisdom and absurdity.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm Daily. The special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Your $20 plus shipping and tax helps fund The Brick House collective, a Publishing Concern featuring a globally diverse set of publishers doing their own thing, with interesting items and publications available for purchase at SHOPULA.

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