As kids, a lot of us knew Richard Nixon was shifty. I mean, really--he walked on the beach in a dark suit and wing tips! He apparently didn't even own golf clothes or khakis, never mind jeans. Jeans, the embodiment of American culture. The mac & cheese of our wardrobes... comfort clothes. We tend to like people in jeans. And, since Nixon's sartorial confusion, all Presidents now wear jeans, and that has made it harder to judge their characters.
Jimmy Carter looked comfortable in them, especially when paired with a flannel shirt, embodying the look of the peanut farmer he was. What he didn't look was cool. But unlike uncool, jeans-challenged Nixon, we didn't think he was shifty or dishonest. After all, he had come clean in Playboy when he confessed to "lusting in his heart."
Reagan looked pretty good in jeans. He should have. He had been a cowboy on the big screen! We saw endless TV footage of him sitting easily on his horse, in jeans and white hat, and could picture him leading a posse to "tear down that wall." What we couldn't picture was him lying... though during Irangate things got a little iffy after the flood of "I don't remembers" and "I don't knows," and a lot of Americans began to feel betrayed and angry. Then the indictments came down. Tear down those jeans!
Bush, Sr. never looked as comfortable in jeans as he did in a navy blazer and red club tie. He appeared more sophisticated than his immediate predecessors, in that "East Coast effete elite" way that Republicans now rail against (which amuses me since their party was built by privileged Americans from country clubs, ivy colleges and the DAR). But H.W. was also more "corporate," something the GOP does like. He was the ultimate company man-- the "Company" company man. But Reagan never cared for his V.P. or H.W's prep school, non-jean background, so when H.W. pleaded that he was never in the "loop" regarding Irangate, most of us believed him. H.W.'s one big lie seems to have been "no new taxes." In the history of Presidential lies, not a whopper.
Next came our Baby Boomer/Bubba President, Bill Clinton. Like all Bubbas and Baby Boomers, no matter if they have a beer belly, carry a rifle or vacation on the Vineyard, he looked okay in jeans. Not good, but natural. It's the Boomer/Bubba wardrobe of choice and Clinton was the number one Boomer/Bubba. Carter was never a Bubba, though his brother Billy certainly was, and no President before Clinton was a Boomer. So, as the first Boomer/Bubba President how could Clinton not look like he was born in jeans? It was in his genes! And therein lies the problem. Had we judged him on the way he looked in running shorts, like we judged Nixon on the beach, we might have been prepared for "the" big lie and how that would hurt and disappoint his family and, ultimately, us. Were we deceived by denim?
Which brings us to Bush, Jr., a Boomer President who looks better in jeans than all previous Presidents--- a President who could ride a horse like Reagan, fly a plane like his father, and appear more Christian than Jimmy Carter. He could wear a club tie with the best of them, look great in a barn jacket standing on a pile of rubble talking to disheartened NY firefighters, appear relaxed in a tux and daring in a flight suit. He was the quintessential boy next door--- New England preppy, yet down home good ol' boy (definitely not to be confused with a Bubba). He was a walking, talking Ralph Lauren ad--- self-assured in jeans or black-tie--- the embodiment of wealth and privilege. However, were we deceived by denim again as we continued to search in vain for WMD in Iraq? Should we have believed that tax cut was really for the working class when bankers got obscenely rich and millions of Americans lost their jobs and their 401Ks?
In contrast, President Obama, whose long, lean body also wears anything from white tie to "mom" jeans like a second skin, saved the auto industry, provided affordable healthcare and finally got Bin Laden. But, our intelligent and accomplished president will soon be ending his tenure and we have a new choice... Hillary or The Donald?
The Donald makes his clothes in Mexico as he promises to make America great again by building a wall between our two countries (if that wall would keep out The Donald's clothes... but I digress). And he looks awful in jeans. A confidence man who bleaches his hair and paints his skin orange (no sir, orange is not the new black) and preaches fear of "others" wearing a trucker hat to relate to the working class. You see, you can fool some of the people all the time.
But what about Hillary, you ask? She doesn't look good in jeans, either, and her pant suits are often a "miss." But she talks about policy and how she'd actually do stuff. She probably will never wear denim in the White House even if she did look good in them. She's a woman, after all, and women have dress codes in certain jobs that men aren't burdened with.
Frankly, I don't want to see either of these candidates in jeans. They embody all the good and bad about ourselves without a pair of Levi's (or flag pin) to tell us they're Americans. So don't be dazzled by jeans, flag pins or rhetoric. Read about the issues. Check out their position papers telling us how each candidate will tackle those issues, step by step. Then make an informed, non-emotional decision.
I'm for Hillary. She fights for what I care about and has actually written reams and reams about how she will face our country's problems. Besides, it's time for a yellow pants suit in the Oval Office, not an orange comb-over.