The Trump Uniform and Other Stereotypes

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speak with flood victims outside Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Central, Louisiana, U.S. August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Republican U.S. vice presidential candidate Mike Pence speak with flood victims outside Greenwell Springs Baptist Church in Central, Louisiana, U.S. August 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

New Orleans    Donald Trump showed up for three hours in Baton Rouge yesterday to make whatever hay he might out of the 1000-year flood in the area. Obama will be coming next week. He’ll be leaving his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard or some such and answering the cries of daily editorials in the Louisiana newspapers calling for him.

There was a picture of Trump in many of the newspapers along with his vice-presidential running mate, Indiana’s governor Mike Pence. The photo op had them helping unload a truck with donated supplies and helping hand those out in the blistering heat and suffocating humidity that makes a Louisiana day in an August summer the stuff of tropical legend. What struck me though was the fact that Trump was still “in uniform.”

Pence was wearing a short sleeve shirt with an open collar. Trump had on his now iconic white golf cap, which reportedly is his sartorial strategy to hold the comb over in place so he doesn’t get caught by any of the political photojournalist paparazzi with his remaining hair flying akimbo in all directions. Not surprisingly, it was also one of his key fundraising strategies throughout the campaign. He was wearing his usual white shirt and dark jacket. No tie, but this is clearly his all-purpose uniform. He has no message discipline, but total and absolute fashion discipline. His image is clearly what he sees as important and paramount, not his message. I find that fascinating and frightening at the same time. This is what presidential means to him.

But, it’s also a product of the media flesh-eating machine. Over the last week we’ve had more than our share of articles about the “buns” in the women’s hair at the Olympics and the number of sequins and rhinestones in the women gymnasts’ outfits. It all got to the point that a rouge feminist interviewer in Rio, watched by my daughter, was interviewing male Olympians and asking them about their uniforms and asking them to “take a twirl” for the viewers.

Reading the business section of the big national newspapers it becomes easier to follow the Trump uniform and its challenges, particularly at the gender divide. For Trump – and many other business folks – this is all about their “brand.” Women pictured in those pages and elsewhere have greater challenges. Of course there is Hillary and her pantsuits and big jackets, Marissa Mayer and her colorful combinations at Yahoo, or Sheryl Sandberg and her dark-colored monotones at Facebook, but for the rest of the tribe there is uncertainty. Do they go with the rigid, formal suit or the summer flounce to message professionalism or friendliness?

Why can’t we move past the trivialities of “dad” jeans and sleeveless dresses? Certainly Trump doesn’t mean to teach us anything, but his boring, standard issue uniform is a clear message he is shrewdly planting in all of us, whether we like it or not.

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Maybe the Republicans Don’t Want to Run the Country, Just the States?

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Doug Mills/The New York Times

New Orleans   President Obama predictably in his last State of the Union address made the case for unity, change, and a new politics.

Makes sense. For the Democrats there is a bedrock belief in the future, demographics is destiny. Change is a friend. All things will come to those who wait.

How do we understand the Republicans though now that they are caught in their great divide? Building a higher fence at the border and deporting millions guarantees them little support in the Latino community? Cutting federal taxes, export-import banks, the federal budget, squeezing infrastructure investment, and free trade agreements alienates them from their corporate sponsors and even if there may not be many votes there, it’s their money that has filled their coffers? What’s up with all of this?

Eventually I have to wonder if the Republican base and a lot of their financiers and even key leaders even want to run the country on a national basis. Sure, there’s no rehab program for the ambition addiction of individual politicians, but I’m talking about the rest of the gang and the people behind them.

It seems for the Republicans the bedrock belief is in the past, demographics is defeat. Change is not a friend, and waiting means that the window could close on them forever.

Most of them probably believe there is no way to ever realistically achieve their ideal of no government, since it’s still a big, bad world out there, but for many it is hard for me not to conclude that they’ve given up on governing the complex, massive behemoth of a federal government. It’s hard not for me not to start think that all of this national stuff and chest beating is a smokescreen: they’ve decided not to be a national party, but to make their last stand state by state.

It can’t be just coincidence. Too much evidence is piling up. It’s all about division.

· Take healthcare, 31 states now in with the Louisiana decision, and 19 out.
· Take guns, different rules in every state with no hope of federal action.
· Take land and they are doing just that, taking land, and claiming that the federal government should give over the land to the states so it could parcel the pieces out to mining, oil and gas, timber companies, and ranchers.
· Take environment, where the Senate Majority leader wanted states to rebel over the coal emissions standards and most of them would scuttle the EPA in a minute.
· Take the poor, and believe me they would love for us to take them, but from Speaker Ryan on down their answer is “block grants,” no matter how they’ve failed, and that means “money for nothing,” since the same 19 or more would take the money and let the poor run or try to pay for bus tickets to their neighbors on the Nevada plan.
· Take workers and their unions, or what’s left of them, where they are using the states to undermine any notion of federal protections for workers, wage increases, and semblance of union security.

The beat goes on and on. This isn’t just tactics, it’s becoming a clear strategy. Make the country ungovernable and hunker down in the states as a last stand at the Alamo and hope you can run the clock out and freeze time. The devil take the hindmost.

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Please enjoy Bonnie Raitt’s Gypsy in Me. Thanks to KABF.

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