I suppose we should have seen this coming, right? John Fetterman continues to attract all of the wrong sort of attention and now he’s found himself at the center of a brief debate inside of the Senate leadership. He has his bad days, of course, when his cognitive issues make it nearly impossible to understand what he’s saying. But he also has a tendency to show up dressed in a hoodie and shorts while everyone else is wearing business attire. The Senate actually has an informal dress code providing guidelines for professional attire. Or at least they used to. Now Chuck Schumer has “quietly” changed the dress code to say that people can wear “whatever they like” on the floor of the Senate. So will Fetterman remain a lone wolf in this regard? Or are we going to see people showing up to vote wearing slacks with the butt cheeks cut out now? (NBC News)
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has quietly changed the Senate’s informal dress code to allow senators to wear whatever they want on the floor, a person with direct knowledge said.
A notice went out to the Senate sergeant-at-arms and relevant staff members late Friday, and the change will go into effect starting Monday, the source said.
The change would let Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., who is often seen wearing a hoodie and baseball shorts, wear his casual attire on the Senate floor whenever he wants. Fetterman, who was elected in last year’s midterm elections, wore a suit and a tie at his swearing-in in January.
Just to clear up one comment I made above, I do not fault John Fetterman for his inarticulate deliveries or diminished cognitive function. He can’t help himself any more than Feinstein, McConnell, or Joe Biden can. And honestly, any kind, caring people in their lives should really be gently nudging all of them to the door, but that’s a debate for another day.
The point is that while Fetterman can’t control his ability to speak, he can control what he wears. Or at least whoever is dressing him in the morning can. That’s a choice. He was dressing in hoodies and such long before his medical incident where he lost control of some of his functions, so that was just his sense of fashion, I suppose. But he wore a suit and tie to his swearing-in ceremony, so it’s been proven that it’s not impossible to get the man into some appropriate clothing.
I’m aware that the members of the Senate should be able to speak and vote regardless of what they are wearing, but we have traditionally had standards when it comes to such things. The Senate was supposed to be the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. Shouldn’t the members dress appropriately if only out of respect for the institution? We have long had and respected dress codes in professional settings because it sent a message. This was true in offices around the country, although that tradition has been eroded in Silicon Valley, where people flaunt t-shirts and board shorts just to show what a bunch of cool “rebels” they are. Is that the future of the Senate?
This is yet another symptom of an unpleasant trend we’ve been observing, particularly among Democrats. If you don’t like what the current standards are or some politically favored person can’t or won’t meet them, lower or eliminate the standards. That’s why we’re seeing a push to eliminate or deprioritize grading systems in public schools. It’s why the streets of our cities are littered with people openly shooting up hard drugs on the sidewalks, if not dying there. When you accept deteriorating standards, you quickly wind up with deteriorating conditions. When somebody shows up at the lectern in the Senate wearing a Bozo suit with a red clown nose, don’t say you weren’t warned.