You know what the real problem is with the town hall protesters according to writer Robin Givhan of the Washington Post? It's not so much their ideas, about which she writes almost nothing. What really irks Givhan is what she considers their lousy sense of fashion which she criticizes harshly in her "On Culture" article. Givhan starts out dripping with disdain on the subject of town hall protester attire:
It seems safe to say that of the hundreds of thousands of style guides currently for sale on Amazon, not one of the didactic, shop-your-closet authors was prescient enough to outline the appropriate attire for those public occasions when good citizens decide to behave like raving lunatics and turn lawmakers into punching bags. What does one wear to a town hall meeting on health care when the sole reason for attending is to shout down one's congressman like a peevish teenager in the midst of a hormonal rage?
And what does a Washington Post writer wear when angrily typing out a peevish story about a silly subject such as town hall protester fashion like an elitest liberal in the midst of hormonal rage at the "unwashed masses?" A tie-dyed mumu and a pair of clunky Birkenstocks?
By and large, the shouters are dressed in a way that underscores their Average Guy -- or Gal -- bona fides. They are wearing T-shirts, baseball caps, promotional polo shirts and sundresses with bra straps sliding down their arm. They wear fuchsia bandannas and American-flag hankies wrapped around their skulls like sweatbands. A lot of them look as though they could be attending a sporting event and, as it turns out, the congressman is the opposing player they have decided to heckle. If not for the prohibition on signs and banners inside these meetings, one could well expect to see some of these volatile worker bees wearing face paint and foam fingers, albeit the highlighted digit would be one expressing foul displeasure rather than competitive rank or skill level.
Yech! The peasants are revolting! They stink on ice!
What would happen if all those unhappy townspeople showed up for these meetings in suit jackets, like high school debaters prepared to take on their opponents with facts and nimble intellect rather than histrionics? Would they garner more respect? Would they compel more lawmakers to rethink their positions rather than merely repeat, again and again -- in a voice that has the tone of an impatient kindergarten teacher -- the same core points?
You want to know what would happen Ms Givhan? I'll tell you what would happen. Liberals such as Barbara Boxer and Chris Matthews would accuse the people at the town halls of being "professional Brooks Brothers protesters" who are too well dressed to be authentic. How do I know this? Because that is what they have already been accused of by those two. So first they were too fashionable and now they somehow seem to be offending Givhan's sense of haute couture.
Perhaps Robin Givhan needs to meet with Barbara Boxer and Chris Matthews in order to bring their story lines on town hall protester attire into alignment. Are they dressed too well or are they just a bunch of uncouth slobs as Givhan has asserted?
(Photo Credit: Bradley C. Bower -- Associated Press)
(UPDATE: In 2005, Robin Givhan criticized the family of Chief Justice John Roberts of being too well dressed. Damned if you do and damned if you don't...if you are a conservative.)