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Dingus of the week: Dress codes
RIP David Brooks
This is the dingus of the week, the Friday newsletter, where I make fun of someone or something in the news that has made the discourse just a little stupider and pushed society back, just a wee bit more. Never miss a dingus by becoming a subscriber today.
This week, as the American government once again teetered on the edge of a shut-down, states banned books, and hate crimes against trans people rose to record highs, politicians were frightened, concerned, appalled, screaming, crying, throwing up, because Senator John Fetterman wore shorts in the Senate.
The Senate, which had a strictly enforced dress code of business attire, recently changed its dress code to allow for hoodies, shorts, gym clothes, sneakers.
Fetterman was the only Senator who made use of the new rules. And on Tuesday, strolled into the weekly caucus meetings, wearing baggy black shorts and black button-up, looking like he was one fedora short of being the drummer in the local Mighty Might Bosstones knock off band. He looked like one Monster Energy drink shy of hopping into a Ford Taurus and blasting punk, black death metal, on his way to his job at the record store. In sum, he looked normal. Like a regular guy.
Senators who had no problem when the previous president broke norms like refusing to step down after he lost the election or trying to influence law enforcement functions against a political rival, handled the change with understanding and equanimity.
“For too long dress codes have been used as a cudgel and unfairly welded against women and people of color and it’s long past time that the United States Senate take a stand and model to the country what fairness and inclusion looks like. After all, who cares how well we dress as long as we are doing our job of making this country run,” said Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
Just kidding. He said nothing of the sort. Can you even imagine living in that timeline?
No, the ghoul who let the childcare tax credit expire and plunged American children into poverty and food insecurity without losing one bit of sleep about it, was apoplectic about shorts on the Senate floor.
Actually, Joe, what degrades the chamber is that children are starving, and women are losing rights and our lives are in danger and you are doing jack all about it. Shorts are not even on the top of the list of things that are wrong with the United States Senate.
Sen. Bill Hagerty of Tennessee accused Democrats of trying to “transform America, to take us to a place that is much less respectful than we historically have been.”
Sir, that was the literal coup on Democracy. Not shorts on the Senate floor.
Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith had it right when she pointed out that the largely Republican backlash against the rules was just “bitching about the Senate dress code when House Republicans are about to drive the Federal Government right off a cliff.”
Meanwhile, another report out today by Pro Publica revealed that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas secretly participated in Koch network donor events. And if that’s not a violation of the ethics rules, it’s stomping all over the norms like he was a toddler, and the norms were cheap bubble wrap.
Like of all the norms and traditions in America that need protecting, I’d put democracy and ethics higher on the list than business casual.
Not that democracy and ethics have actually been the norm in American politics, but we do like to pretend, don’t we? And before you try to come here and tell me “We used to be a proper country” ma’am, we used to legally enslave people and we codified that into our laws.
There was no better time, there was only the time you want to pretend existed to make yourself feel better for voting for Chuck Grassley in the 1990s.
Anyway, listen if Susan Collins wants to wear a bikini on the Senate floor, I’d be fine with that as long as I got my reproductive rights coded into actual American law.
Listen, David Brooks deserves dingus this week because of his tweet claiming that because he spent a lot of money on watered-down whiskey at Newark, Joe Biden’s economy is bad.
Actually, more than dingus, he deserves jail. Because this isn’t the first time, Brooks has made up shit about food for years. As Sasha Issenberg discovered in 2004.
Unfortunately, as with the Red/Blue article, many of the knowing references Brooks deftly invoked to bring Patio Man to life were entirely manufactured. He describes the ladies of Sprinkler City as “trim Jennifer Aniston women [who] wear capris and sleeveless tops and look great owing to their many hours of sweat and exercise at Spa Lady.” That chain of women’s gyms has three locations — all in New Jersey, far from any Sprinkler City. “The roads,” Brooks writes, “have been given names like Innovation Boulevard and Entrepreneur Avenue.” There are no Entrepreneur Avenues anywhere in the country, according to the business-directory database Referenceusa, and only two Innovation Boulevards — in non-Sprinkler cities Fort Wayne, Indiana, and State College, Pennsylvania. There is also an Innovation Boulevard in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Like, I said, straight to the opinion jail for you, bucko. And I’d send him. But Joyce Carol Oates murdered David Brooks in broad daylight.
Then she came back to the crime scene for more.
RIP David Brooks 1961-2023. Died doing what he loved making up stories about mediocre food.
And now for something good:
The right-wing media group, Project Veritas, has suspended all operations.
What I am drinking:
This week, I went to New York City for a publicity and marketing meeting for my next book This American Ex Wife, which is out in February. And if you’ve spent any time on this newsletter, you know that I am working on a companion podcast and you SHOULD PRE-ORDER THAT BITCHIN BOOK IMMEDIATELY.
New York was New Yorking hard for me this week. The weather was perfect, Meg Ryan fall has arrived. I sniffed bouquets of newly sharpened pencils and wore plaid and sat on patios with friends and drank drinks and gossiped and connived and joked and had a lovely time.
I got to see my friends and agent, book editor, and magazine editors, people I’ve worked with, people I love and admire. People who have given me advice when I sobbed on the phone to when I thought my career was over. People who asked me to write stories because they loved my words and people who fought for me harder than I knew how to fight for myself. I think a pre-condition for being a writer is being a fan of writing and writers and I am such a fan of so many people. This year, I made it a goal to send fan mail to writers I didn’t know when I found their work and enjoyed it.
One of the biggest myths about writing is that it is a solitary act. It isn’t. True, you have to sit and write and that happens alone. But the editing the ideas the community and collaboration the understanding, that happens in community. Consciously or not, the best writing happens in conversation, not just with it’s political and cultural moment but with other writing and other artists.
My editor told me that she thought I had a disappointingly small number of literary feuds, which is correct, and I will try to remedy that. But in the meantime, I got to drink a drink called the James Dean, which was lit on fire in a novelty bar decorated like I fell down the rabbit hole. The drink was terrible, the friendship was and is amazing.