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Jewish World Review Jan. 30, 2001 / 7 Shevat, 5761

Dave Shiflett

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Consumer Reports

A Stiff Warning:
Bushies beware -- A GREAT triumphalist shout echoes around Washington these days: The adults are back in town! The Clinton staff, characterized as ill-mannered kids in jeans who liked to kick back and eat pizza (between back-cracking bonking sessions) has been replaced by close-cropped, suit-wearing Republicans who eat with both feet on the floor, and perhaps have sex the same way, though only at home, after vespers.

Republicans may be enjoying all this self-congratulation, but they should be aware that there is great danger in presenting themselves as the party of the glutimus tightimus. Many Americans, including undecided voters and youngsters forming those crucial initial political allegiances, don't like Republicans precisely because of this Stiff Factor. If the new president wants to truly run a big-tent operation, and perhaps have a chance of actually winning the popular vote next time out, he should make it clear that there's room for the shabby, the unshaven, and especially those who recognize that G-d made suits for one purpose only: burial.

There is no doubting that the Clinton exit from the White House has done a great deal to harm the image of casual America. Reports indicate his departing staff cut phone lines, trashed computers, planted what the inimitable Drudge calls "porn bombs," and otherwise left the place looking like Squalor Hollow, Arkansas. All missing, it appears, was a big flaming bag full of dog crap for the newcomers to stamp out. One suspects this was no oversight: the chief ingredient, Buddy Biscuits, have no doubt been scooped up for later resale by McAuliffe, Inc. (It is also reported that Oval Office carpet samples are being packaged for those with an interest in cloning the former president.)

Yet the fact is, the trashing of the White House should not be blamed on down-dressing staff, but on the Chief Suit himself, Bill Clinton. Now there was one well-coifed, well-dressed porker surrounded, sustained, and shilled for by other guys in suits. Did anyone ever see John Podesta or Sidney Blumenthal in overalls? How about that mob of lawyers that followed Clinton around like a school of pilot fish? They wore only the best, though the fine threads could not conceal the fact that most all of them deserved to be rocketed into the heart of the sun.

The White House trashing, in fact, should be seen as the work of rumpled youth, but as a stellar example of the broken-window syndrome, in which an unattended bit of wrongdoing inspires an eventual cataclysm of vandalism. Once again, the fellow who threw the first rock (make that first couple dozen) was not wearing jeans. It was Bill himself, the guy with the $200 airport hairdo the prolific yet immaculate stain-hose who caused discriminating clothes horses from Hollywood to Park Avenue to swoon in admiration.

It might also be remembered that Clinton's final legal outrage was to pardon Marc Rich, another suit-wearing fellow. To finish the point, none should forget that the greatest monsters of the modern world wore suits and ties Mao and Lenin can still be seen wearing theirs, while Hitler no doubt went up in smoke while wearing a uniform, the ultimate in coordinated fashions.

If the Bush administration really wants to change the Washington scene (and swell its rolls in the bargain), it should consider distancing itself from its longstanding image as the party of coat, tie, and tassel. Rule one might be to outlaw the wearing of bow-ties by anyone under 55. There is no creature more hideous, at least to real Americans, than the young right winger in a bow tie. The first reaction is to slap the guy and say "that's from your dad."

The fact is, most American parents would rather come home and find their sons picking the lock to the liquor cabinet than gazing into the mirror while tying a bow around his pretentious little neck. It is difficult to think of a more grating affectation. If one must wear a tie, it should be worn in the way Christopher Hitchens wears his very loose, never ironed, and otherwise looking as if it might perhaps be used on off hours to bind the ankles of young female staffers down at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Similar care should be shown regarding footwear. Once again, young men in wingtips are an abomination unto the Lord. Ditto for any man in tasseled loafers. Indeed, most young and independent voters will flee a tasseled loafer the way their grandmothers would have fled a cloven hoof. The fact is, for many, many Americans tassels are to be worn in one place only, and it is not on the foot.

As for a winning sartorial strategy for Republican women that's best left to others. It can be said with assurance, however, that Laura Ingraham once wore a fake leopard-skin miniskirt with powerful effect, and there seem to be plenty of right-wing vixens who have no trouble squeezing into uniforms of similar style. If Nixon's beard once spooked voters into the opposing camp, the strategic deployment of a few blonde ambassadors might even bring Bill into the fold.

JWR contributor Dave Shiflett writes from Midlothian, Va. Comment by clicking here.


01/26/01: Babes in Boyland
01/23/01: Dubya, First Philistine? It depends on how you define the word 'artist'
01/19/01: Goodbye L.A., Hello Nashville
01/12/01: Elvis and the Rock of Death
12/07/00: Col. Sauls-ders roasts some ducks
11/23/00: Democracy may be under siege, but now comes the fun
11/21/00: The dolt vote
11/15/00: Now what will we do for fun?

© 2000, Dave Shiflett