Fetterman has no respect for the Senate and he has no respect for you
I’ve always needed someone else to dress me.
From my early days, I was pretty much taken care of in the costume department. First, my mother made most of my clothes, including holiday dresses, First Communion outfits, and all the costumes I wore to Halloween and school pageants. Her skills were legendary, including the year she made me, my three brothers, and my little sister a living canvas of the American Revolution. It was 1976, the year of the bicentennial, and I had turned my three brothers into a ragtag band of colonial guerrillas, me into a Betsy Ross and my five-year-old sister into a Liberty Bell. Unfortunately, in a move that would herald another costume failure, the papier-mache bell was so wide that it prevented my sister from passing through doors, defeating the entire purpose of seeking candy from strangers. If you can’t get within five feet of your neighbor, you’ll go home with an empty suitcase.
When I was old enough to go to school, I was immediately enrolled in a series of Catholic institutions for girls, where, suffice it to say, there was no room for creativity in clothing. You put on what the nuns decided you needed to wear, and went to the Whalen and Whalen uniform distributors on North 12th Street to order the dresses. They were all always navy, tweed and itchy.
My senior year of high school, we were able to vote on our own uniforms, one of the few perks of being seniors. My class picked out a beautiful burgundy and pink set, which I still have hanging in a closet somewhere. To my mother’s delight and the horror of some of my old classmates, I wore that plaid skirt even decades after I graduated. I wasn’t trying to be a Brittany Spears-Lolita in my schoolgirl kilt. Neither my weight nor my dancing skills would have been a threat to the “Hit Me Baby One More Time” audience.
The reason I reused the kilt was because I had no fashion sense and no ability to figure out what suited my shape and personality. To this day, I suffer from the “Catholic Girls School” syndrome, where I find something I like, usually black, and buy ten copies of it. This is because I never developed the ability to express my creativity through my clothes. I may be a 61-year-old professional, but deep down I’m still the girl who got yelled at for her low-hanging knee socks.
I write this to show that I sympathize with those who are not elegant gems. I write this to show that I don’t judge someone based on the value of their clothing, or the amount of “name” brand name tags they carry on their arms and dangling from their ears. I’m the last person in the world to criticize someone for being nerdy and unfashionable.
But I’m also a person who respects myself enough not to appear sloppy in public. My clothes are always washed and ironed and my hair is always combed. I wear makeup, because I look better with it. My shoes may sometimes have holes in the sole, but only you really know that (especially when it rains). I am dressed appropriately for the occasion. I don’t wear shorts to the office, I don’t show my cleavage in the courtroom (as if) and I never wear jeans when I plan to meet clients. I have respect for myself and others.
None of us can say the same about Pennsylvania’s junior senator. John Fetterman has a lot of faults, many of them far more serious than the way he dresses, but it’s just a fact that he has so little respect and concern for his constituents that he walks around in baggy pants, oversized T-shirts, and a wild face. Hair is a sign of absolute arrogance. Now, he has succeeded in forcing his Senate colleagues to do away with any semblance of a dress code.
The fact that Fetterman, a man with a Harvard degree and a lot of money, much of it from other people, does not have the decency to wear a suit and tie when representing the people of the commonwealth, many who did not even vote for him, is reprehensible. It’s a sign that he doesn’t care.
His supporters will say that makes him “real,” and that they like the fact that he doesn’t play the game. They think he’s a maverick, a working-class guy, cool.
It is none of those things. He is lazy at best. But at his worst, he is someone who believes that the rules don’t apply to him, that civility is not in his job description, and that immaturity and a questionable sense of cleanliness are entirely appropriate in the halls of Congress.
Some will say they’d prefer a guy like Fetterman, who doesn’t pretend to be what he’s not, rather than well-dressed demagogues like Matt Gaetz who seems to have adopted “Exxon Valdez” as his hair care regimen. But even though Gaetz has questionable politics, he at least has the decency to show respect for his office, and for the institutions of Congress, by not showing up to work like a huge, non-musical beach boy.
There are many reasons not to like John Fetterman. His politics, his disregard for the sanctity of human life, his wife, his indolent personality, and the fact that he basically lied his way into office by hiding his severe medical disability.
But this former Catholic school girl is especially bummed by his failure to even try to pull up his damn pants. If only Sister Madeleine Marie had been there to deal with him.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61