Politics & Media
Oct 02, 2023, 06:27AM

Fetterman’s the Barbarian at the Gate

The Senate must protect tradition by upholding a formal dress code.

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The world’s greatest deliberative body now has a dress code for a man with a debilitating condition, thus allowing John Fetterman to better represent—and resemble—his remarks. As a code of conduct, the new dress code represents what the U.S. Senate now is: political hospice—end-of-career care—for the inexpressive and unresponsive. As the code favors the unfashionable, so shall senators be free to do away with style. As Fetterman favors comfort over ceremony, so shall Americans be free to do away with discipline and dignity.

And yet we do not tread where Fetterman trespasses, and we shall not do as he does, because we possess what he lacks: a sense of decency. We feel the presence of the past, that it is present in every entrance to the Capitol, honoring us with a light that no fire can destroy; we see the glory of our common history, humbling us before greatness and summoning us to greatness, in spite of Fetterman’s ignorance of history.

We also see insolence born of indolence, as Fetterman is too lazy to look respectable or act respectfully. No doubt others see the same thing, that a man who refuses to dress himself has no right to address the world from the Senate floor. There's no doubt that others have no doubt in thinking Fetterman is wrong, or that he wrongs the Senate, because he violates the rites of the Senate. He disrupts the great melody of representative government, stamping out the voice of Churchill and the words of Lincoln with the sound of the mob.

Perhaps Fetterman is no less great than the greatness he offends, because he also suffers from depression. Perhaps he knows pain worse than the terrible and reasonless depressions of Churchill or sadness worse than the sorrows of Lincoln. Or perhaps Fetterman is nothing more than an obnoxious bum.

We needn’t speculate about a sight so plain, or the adverse effects of Fetterman’s act of adverse possession, because no one has a right to squat in the Senate chamber. No senator has a right to put convenience before country, regardless of how many times the Senate revises its rule on proper attire. No rule can erase the impropriety of Fetterman’s impropriety.

Tradition is the only check against the do-nothingism of a know-nothing like Fetterman. The tradition of mutual sacrifice for mutual concession is the purpose of the Senate. The tradition of sacrifice in war and service in peace is the history of the Senate. The tradition of valor in combat and courage in wars of ideas is the conscience of the Senate, for which Fetterman is ineligible and unqualified.

Tradition prepares the mind by preparing the body, inspiring many to emulate the example of one. The senator who lays his clothes out the night before, who needs more time but asks for none, who rises while it’s still night and works till dawn, this man—the senator with the lame hand or no hand whatsoever—is a leader. He’s never anything but fastidious in manner, for he has manners.

Tradition is the truth Fetterman abhors, the tithe he withholds, and the teaching he denies. Tradition is also the labor he avoids. Thwarting Fetterman is a tradition for the Senate to support and defend.


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