One of Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown’s campaign gimmicks was to drive everywhere in a pickup truck, thereby ‘proving’ that he’s a regular guy (never mind that he’s very wealthy). One wonders what would have happened to Scott’s image had the Coakley campaign stumbled across this little sartorial tidbit (by way of Rumproast; italics mine):
Arianna told me that he showed up for his first real date with her mother, Gail Huff, a TV newscaster to whom he has been married for more than 23 years, in pink leather shorts. It’s family lore.
The pinkish color drained from his face when I asked him about it during a conversation in his campaign office just before we took off in the truck. He clarified that the shorts weren’t something that he went out and purchased — it wasn’t like that at all. “I did the couture shows, and instead of paying in cash, they paid in clothes,” he said. “And one of the things I had to wear were leather shorts. And these happened to be pink.”
As he told the story, he seemed, almost in spite of himself, to get into it. “If I wore these now,” he said, “I’d get shot. But it was the ’80s. Pastels were in. It was all pastel-y.”
I remember the ’80s, and, even when I possibly could have had the physique to pull it off, I would never had been caught in pink, pastel-y leather shorts. I certainly never would have worn them on a date (presumably in public). Even if I wanted to ensure that my date would never want to see me again, I still wouldn’t have worn pink leather shorts.
I’m guessing Brown probably wishes he hadn’t done that. Seriously though, this does demonstrate just how stupid politics by archetype is.
Movement conservatives and Republican political operatives have constructed a mythical ‘real’ American. Deviations from this archetype are, well, not very American at all–and pink leather shorts would be considered, erm, a deviation. Real Americans don’t drink latté (even though Dick Cheney loved his latté). Real Americans drink beer, not wine, even though many Republicans like wine. Real Americans listen to country music, even though many Republicans don’t like country music. And let’s not forget the war on arugula lettuce.
Taste and style (or the lack thereof) are all conservatism has left, as the policy wreckage of the last decade continues to smolder. Nobody matches up to this mythical standard–and we haven’t even discussed issues of sexuality yet. But the Republican politics of cultural resentment require an other: you can’t have real Americans without some unreal ones.
And I’m sure they wear pink leather shorts.