(Editor’s note: The following column has been authored by a non-clinician, and does not constitute the rendering of a medical opinion, on the part of Newsmax. TR.)
Senate Dress Code: Don’t let Fashion Overshadow Function
Among the hundreds of issues facing the American people, talking heads across the country have been buzzing about the wardrobe choices of Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., since this issue erupted last week.
The U.S. Senate’s sudden shift in dress code has political leaders on both sides of the aisle up in arms, and rightfully so.
Since hundreds of pundits have already dissected the topic thread by thread, let’s zip past the fashion fuss and dive into what really counts: not the dress of our leaders, but their mental wherewithal and clarity.
For the record, this writer opposes the recent changes thrust on the chamber, and the American people, by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Such matters should be decided through established rules and procedures, not personal and/or political whim, nor the whims of personal tastes.
The Senate is one of the most recognized legislative bodies globally.
With the eyes of activists internationally monitoring our actions, we should be setting not only a high bar, but the highest one.
We should also be setting a positive example for our nation’s youth. "Dress for Success," isn't more than the 1975 book by John T. Malloy; nor is it a mere, platitudinalempty adage.
It’s a well-established, well-grounded philosophy emphasizing the correlation between attire and attitude, preparation, and performance.
While the debate over the Senate’s dress code, or lack thereof, has its merits, this writer's greater concern isn’t about what Sen. Fetterman, or any other senator or congressman ultimately wears to do their job, but whether Fetterman or anyone on the House and Senate floor possesses the mental ability for the esteemed office they hold and the heavy responsibilities that comes with those offices.
Thus, this isn’t merely a debate over aesthetics; it’s about drive (gumption!) and aptitude.
Pondering the Senate, as a cornerstone of our republic, it has the mandate to shape our nation’s judiciary, ratify treaties, and approve Cabinet secretaries for presidential administrations.
Each of these pivotal duties can significantly influence our nation’s forward path and global standings.
With high stakes like these, our primary concern should be the competence and capability of those who serve, not if they happen to be wearing sweatpants or a T-shirt when casting their votes.
Fetterman’s struggle with his day-to-day duties, especially as they relate to effective communication, is nothing new.
These issues stem from a stroke he endured during his 2022 Senate campaign.
These points are made not to be insulting, condescending, or abusive — but to raise legitimate concerns affecting all Americans.
Sen. Fetterman, in speaking, has missed words, notably paused in awkward places, and seemingly has expressed his thoughts with noticeable difficulty, relying on closed captioning to keep up with the conversation.
Even his primary physician, Clifford Chen, was forced to admit that Fetterman "exhibits symptoms of an auditory processing disorder."
Another illustrative example of Fetterman’s seemingly diminished cognitive abilities occurred late in his senatorial campaign, when addressing a Philadelphia crowd, he proclaimed, "The Eagles are so much better than the Eagles!"
This eyebrow raising quote, comparing the Philadelphia Eagles to themselves, raises serious questions about whether Fetterman is fast enough on his feet mentally, underscoring the need to assess whether he can effectively discharge the responsibilities that come with high office, beyond the superficial concern over NFL teams.
Considering these instances, a more recent example further brings Fetterman’s fitness for office into focus.
As Fetterman was trying to explain a highway collapse in Philadelphia before the U.S. Senate Environment Committee, his remarks were apparently characterized by their incoherence.
He stuttered, repeated the name of the roadway multiple times, and struggled to articulate the significance of the issue at hand.
At this juncture, it's crucial to note that questions of competency and fitness are not exclusive to any one individual in the Senate.
Concerns have been raised about other members besides Fetterman, reflecting the need to continually assess our elected representatives' ability to effectively perform their duties.
Just recently, many have raised similar concerns about Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Which brings this writer back to his original point.
Our nation is facing a multitude of challenges, from an escalating national debt, to intensifying global tensions involving nations like China and Iran.
Is the focus on the Senate's attire truly warranted, especially when there are legitimate concerns about the health of some members, impacting their professional efficacy?
Perhaps it’s this writer's Millennial perspective, but the choice of attire, be it pajamas or formal wear, of a U.S. senator, is far less concerning to me than whether they fully comprehend the ramifications of their decisions and vote with the nation’s best interests in mind.
While the recent (temporary) alteration of longstanding rules to suit an individual’s preferences is regrettable, the real concern, the one that keeps this writer up at night, is the prospect of individuals, like Fetterman — beset with well-documented personal issues —shaping our nation’s policies, potentially without a profound, contemplative understanding, or even thorough consideration, of the subjects they are voting on.
At the end of the day, a sloppy appearance might earn a few side-eyes, but it’s a mentally unfit officeholder who can truly alter the future of our nation — and not likely for the better.
Recently, senators did "nix" casual clothing; the result of a recent bipartisan resolution establishing an updated dress code for the floor of the Senate.
Perhaps, at some point, we can embrace a more casual dress code, but let's ensure our office-holders whom we put so much trust in are fully up for their jobs.
In all aspects.
At all times.
Jacob Lane is a Republican strategist and school choice activist. He has worked for GOP campaigns at the federal, state and local levels, as well as with various PACs and nonprofits. Read Jacob Lane's Reports — More Here.
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