Politics & Media
Oct 02, 2023, 06:29AM

Goof Squad

The U.S. Senate’s dress code is a purposeful distraction. What year is it (#441)?

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Anyone who views the current Congress as a daily, if unintentional (I think) comic bit must’ve had second thoughts when Majority Leader Chuck Schumer—who acts as sclerotic as Mitch McConnell and Joe Biden, even though he’s a mere 72—rescinded his Casual Every Day dictum for U.S. Senators (but not staffers and visitors). Hard cheese, John Fetterman, although the physically-impaired Pennsylvania Democratic Senator is sure to get creative in the coming weeks, maybe painting a tie on his trademark hoodie, which he bought in 1902 (vintage!).

I enjoyed the spectacle of Fetterman wandering around in shorts, mostly because it was far more interesting than anything else “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” does when in session. The memes were pretty funny—Fetterman walking around naked, an AI spoof of Sen. Rand Paul in a bright red bathrobe, sitting on the stoops of the Capitol—and though they’ll fade there’s never any lack of material in what now resembles the late, and great, Jackie Mason’s home turf in New York City clubs. No slight to trigger-happy, and “progressive,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman intended.

Unsurprisingly, Reason’s ever-sensible Nick Gillespie had some biting commentary late last week. He wrote about Schumer’s dress code double-switch (maybe he was pretending to be Mets manager Casey Stengel making a late-innings move in 1962) and spared no one. Gillespie: “These things simultaneously seem like they happened sometime during the second Grover Cleveland administration and maybe 15 minutes ago. Such odd and intense minidramas about insignificant issues are the rule, not the exception, in contemporary politics, and leaders will do anything to avoid confronting serious issues, especially related to ballooning budgets (in nominal dollars, federal spending has more than tripled over the past 20 years.)… More important, shutdowns borne out of congressional laziness are a sign that our leaders are fundamentally unserious, regardless of whether they dress flamboyantly like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema or rock Carhartt hoodies like Fetterman… That passing a dress code will likely be among the greatest legislative achievement of [Joe] Manchin and [Mitt] Romney is a sad commentary on their Senate runs.”

I’ve given up trying to decipher the Gyro Gearloose machinations of the Senate and House, so I don’t find it particularly “sad.” Members of Congress are just as moronic as the worker-bees (usually favoring “good government,” as if that’s possible) on Twitter who dissect every single fucking cross-tab of 2024 presidential polls, explaining the ramifications to their “readership” that hangs on every decimal point, when really the entire election is up in the air. One of the latest world-weary concerns is what effect Bobby Jr., now running as an independent candidate, will have on the election. The Democratic “worker-bees” assume, and hope, it hurts Trump. I have no idea, nor do you! The averted government shutdown (Kevin McCarthy, not as smart as populist Fetterman, is taking the heat), failed to shut up the soothsayers, in Congress and the media, but it’s only good for 45 days! I relished the daily dire drumbeats from legacy newspapers last week telling readers, “This is how a shutdown will affect you.” Now it’s back to conservatives making fun of Joe Biden’s “criminal family” and time-out-of-mind nostalgia trips made to fit to a current tragedy or remembrance. And the Dems are back on the Trump beat, because “that’s what they pay me for, Mister, because I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man.” As it’s said, “Because, democracy.”

Getting back to comedic public figures, there’s Baltimore Orioles CEO John Angelos—reviled among fans who know he’s a skinflint, now riding on the coattails of brilliant GM Mike Elias, who constructed the A.L. East division winners—a slimy man who bears countless similarities to the podunk charlatans, both Democratic and Republican—who sully what’s left of Congress’ reputation. Angelos belongs in Washington, D.C. as a Maryland senator, and since he’s a Democrat like his ambulance-chaser father Peter, he’d be elected.

Last Thursday, as the O’s were on the way to clinching the division, the outfield scoreboard read that a 30-year lease deal on Camden Yards had been reached, and MASN showed Angelos and useless Gov. Wes Moore celebrating. It wasn’t true. From a Baltimore Sun editorial the next day: “State officials confirmed that no actual lease had been finalized. Instead, a memorandum of understanding—containing no legally enforceable promises—had been signed expressing a commitment to an eventual 30-year lease and various other provisions.” In other words, from an old song, “Same as it ever was.”

My son Nicky is pictured above, many years ago, in the spirit of today’s goofballs in Congress. Still, fashion-conscious from way back when, Nick’s wearing a tie under his Power Rangers costume. We call that style, friends and countrymen.

Take a look at these clues to figure out what year it is: Yahoo! is incorporated; The History Channel is launched; “If it doesn’t fit…,”; the Unabomber’s manifesto is published by two once-respected newspapers; The Smashing Pumpkins record and release their grand double album masterpiece Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness; David Fincher's breakthrough film Seven is released; Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth wins the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction; the last “Calvin and Hobbes” strip is printed; Patrick Mahomes is born and Lana Turner dies; Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity is published; Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite grosses $6.5 million; and Pat Barker’s The Ghost Road wins the Booker Prize.

—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER2023


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