What, your "Who Farted?" t-shirt was at the cleaners?

This complaint has undoubtedly been made already, but before we consign Ronald Reagan Week to history: Is it too much to ask that Americans try and look presentable when they show up for the President's funeral? Many times last week I heard the old chestnut about how Reagan insisted on wearing a suit whenever he entered the Oval Office. Didn't anybody notice how many of his apparent admirers seem to think Bermudas and a fanny pack are proper attire for a closed-casket viewing that's being televised around the world (even to extremists who believe our country is decadent)?

Here's a typical shot. (Of course, I'm not referring to the impeccably turned out George and Laura but to the herd of slobs behind them.) I've heard the excuse that these yahoos were just visiting D.C. in their Really Relaxed-Fit tourist gear, and ended up at the coffin before they had a chance to change. This sounds like the guy who wandered into a highway rest stop and ended up having gay sex before he realized what was going on. Isn't there a Marshalls in the nation's capital? A Ross Dress for Less? Is it really that much of a burden to pick up a coat and tie on your way to pay your last respects to a beloved president?

But then it's never that simple, is it? For while The Gipper's thoughts on proper attire were duly trotted out last week, his role in undoing dress codes went unremarked. In fact, Reagan was instrumental in getting Americans acclimated to the dressed-down presidential look. It's tempting to chalk up his rejection of the dark blue/black suit continuum to classic California casual style (dig this ecru ensemble at Arlington). But as we know from the infamous glen plaid suit he wore on his 1982 trip to Europe (no picture available, sadly), Reagan opposed central planning in fashion as well as economics. Casual Friday was not even a glimmer in those distant days, but between Dutch and Don Johnson (not to mention George H.W. Bush, who wore a Members Only jacket with the sleeves rolled up while debating Geraldine Ferraro in 1984), the tyranny of the IBM suit was broken by the end of the decade.

Like the Afghan mujahideen, however, Casual Wear was an anti-communist tool easier to build than to dismantle. And last week this one came back to us in a fashion catastrophe of stunning proportions.

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  • Brooke||

    Will,
    Seven Corners and Bailey's Crossroads, neither of which has a metro stop. And there's a Marshall's at Pentagon City, but who wants to spend their money/time on vacation in a mall?

    I agree with commenter Lee:

    "If people had taken your advice and NOT shown up unless 'properly attired' then you would be whining that not enough people lined up to view the casket."

  • ||

    Well then, perhaps we don't need a Requiem at a funeral. For that matter, we could have Blink 182 perform live and we should serve hot-dogs-on-a-stick.

    Lil' Jon,

    "I wouldn't demand that people wait in 90 degrees in double-breasted wool jackets, but is it really too much to ask a guy to put on a pair of trousers, dress shirt and tie, and closed-toe shoes?"

    Thank you for your use of reason. A collared-linen shirt and nice slacks even without a tie would be preferable to dressing up like your going to a bar-b-q. And no, it's not that expensive.

    Douglas Fletcher,

    "And hoping to get laid."

    How true! Well, there is that biology thing and whatnot, so no contest there. ;)

  • Gerard Van der Leun||

    As many of these comments show, the last thing slobs want to admit is that they are slobs. The next to last thing they want to admit is that criticising them for it is okay.

    The dead and God may be able to see into the human heart, but all I can see is a dirty t-shirt and I'm not amused if it iis being worn at a wake.

  • Gerard Van der Leun||

    As many of these comments show, the last thing slobs want to admit is that they are slobs. The next to last thing they want to admit is that criticising them for it is okay.

    The dead and God may be able to see into the human heart, but all I can see is a dirty t-shirt and I'm not amused if it iis being worn at a wake.

  • ||

    Slob I am... So people dress for their fellow parishioners. I'm thinking that God had a comment on that..."they have ALREADY received their reward on Earth..."

    And L'il John there I believe you use the argumentum adsurdum there, if not "a" then it must be "Not-A" or is it the false dictomoy, loin clothes or ties? There can be no in-between?

  • ||

    Slob I am... So people dress for their fellow parishioners. I'm thinking that God had a comment on that..."they have ALREADY received their reward on Earth..."

    And L'il John there I believe you use the argumentum adsurdum there, if not "a" then it must be "Not-A" or is it the false dictomoy, loin clothes or ties? There can be no in-between?

  • Gerard Van der Leun||

    As many of these comments show, the last thing slobs want to admit is that they are slobs. The next to last thing they want to admit is that criticising them for it is okay.

    The dead and God may be able to see into the human heart, but all I can see is a dirty t-shirt and I'm not amused if it iis being worn at a wake.

  • ||

    It just shows Reagan's broar appeal

  • ||

    It just shows Reagan's broad appeal

  • ||

    It just shows Reagan's broad appeal

  • ||

    It just shows Reagan's broad appeal

  • ||

    It seems the overwhelming trend here is that those who waited in line are glad they were in shorts - I was. The folks who watched it from their living room think I should've worm a tie. I very nearly did, but it's worth pointing out that the only guy near me in line who was wearing a suit was a sweaty, greasy wacko whose bowl cut hair resembled Moe. He spent the entire 5 hours in line reading the same page of relgious propaganda he had printed from the internet (I checked every 30 minutes for progress).

  • ||

    I'm with Tim. I saw the pictures, and I thought, "The Commander-In-Chief is lying in state, and you can't even bother to put on a pair of long pants?" All the excuses are kind of bogus, if you ask me. "It's hot!" people whine. BFD. It was just as hot 50 years ago, but you didn't see people wearing shorts to state funerals then. I spent two summers in Phoenix, and I've been in New Orleans in July, and I wore a suit when I had to (although even I agree it wouldn't have been my first choice). "Maybe all the tourists didn't bring a suit!" Well, either they should pack heavier, or they shouldn't have gone, should they? "What matters is what's in your heart!" I agree completely - but, as someone else very skilfully put it, since I can't see into your heart, I'll have to judge you by your actions.If you went to see Reagan dressed like a slob, I curse you with having a relative come to your wedding wearing a wifebeater with mustard stains and cutoffs with his crack hanging out, because it's hot and all his good clothes were in the wash.


    Look, it's not about a "dress code". It's about acting like a responsible adult and recognizing that there are certain standards. (Jeez, I sound like my parents. Argh.) I'd think libertarians more than anyone else would recognize that. Since there is no one making you dress up properly, it's up to you to have some effing class. "I can't be bothered to dress up properly" sounds a little too much to me a sibling to "I can't be bothered to eat properly" and "I can't be bothered to educate myself" and "I can't be bothered to own guns safely." (Hmm, maybe people were passing out because they were overweight and didn't have the sense to drink enough water...)
    Anyway, this sour-faced rant is coming from a guy sitting at his computer in t-shirt and boxers, so feel free to take it with a large grain of salt.

  • Warren||

    I don't know. I can't see myself waiting hours in line just to view a dead body. If I did, I think it would be because I held the deceased in such high regard, and I�d want to show proper reverence. The key here is the wanting. When people feel they need to dress more formally than they wish to, that�s a dress code and I�m against it. I think obligatory formal attire always adds a sense of phoniness, hypocrisy and autocracy.
    As far as holding people in contempt because they display a lack of the appropriate style and/or deference, I�m not so sure. On the one hand I agree, having no style is too close to having no self-respect, and having no self-respect is sufficient to earn my derision. On the other hand, the problem here is that the offending behavior was displayed by the masses. Which means, that what we�re actually ridiculing here, is our culture. I�m inclined to be dismissive of �we�re going to hell in a hand-basket� arguments. I�m sure the republic will endure, the young will grow old, and the arts and sciences will thrive, even in an age of casual dress. I�d be more critical of a trend towards Puritanism.

  • ||

    The thing that really, really, really bothered me was the guy standing behind Nancy when she got out of her car. He's standing there with his shirt off. WITH HIS SHIRT OFF. At a funeral. I dress as badly as the next guy on an everyday basis (though that's changing), but dress up a bit for a funeral. Show some respect for the dead. It's not that they're going to care, but that's a way that our culture shows respect. We're not going to hell in a handbasket by any means, but it's a bit disappointing to see this sort of thing happen. Wear a polo shirt or a short-sleeved dress shirt and some trousers, or at least some nice shorts.

    This article is obviously coming from someone who has not had to stand in the humid heat for hours at a time.

    I have. Both in the Army and in JROTC (more in JROTC). At each annual inspection, which we had in September (when it's only a bit cooler than August here), we had to stand in full dress uniforms for four or so hours. It's miserable, but you do it because it's the right thing to do. I'd think that those of us who believe in personal responsibilty would see that sometimes you can't be completely comfortable; sometimes you just have to suck it up and suffer a bit for the sake of social conventions.

  • ||

    Those who think or feel that following a voluntary social norm, such as dressing respectfully at a wake or funeral, are somehow "unlibertarian" misunderstand the diference between laws and mores. When I am trying to persuade someone that voluntary arrangements can and do order the world in ways that statists reflexively believe legislation and regulations are called for, one of my examples is etiquette. The rules of etiquette are sometimes based on common sense, and other times arbitrary, but what gives them any power they have is that individuals, families and communities are taught to follow them. One can always congregate where the dominant rules don't apply, but even countercultural hangouts have their own norms. (You won't catch me wearing a Harley-Davidson shirt at a biker bar if I don't actually own a hog.)

    There is something quintessentially American about the booboisie showing up in declasse attire to visit the great and mighty. This behavior is as old as the Jackson Inaugural.

    Ladies and gentlemen, only had been expected at this Levee, not the people en masse. But it was the People's day, and the People's President and the People would rule. God grant that one day or other, the People, do not put down all rule and rulers. I fear, enlightened Freemen as they are, they will be found, as they have been found in all ages and countries where they get the Power in their hands, that of all tyrants, they are the most ferocious, cruel and despotic. The noisy and disorderly rabble in the President's House brought to my mind descriptions I had read, of the mobs in the Tuileries and at Versailles, I expect to hear the carpets and furniture are ruined, the streets were muddy, and these guests all went thither on foot.

    Source: Margaret Bayard Smith. The First Forty Years of Washington Society . . . . New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1906 found at:

    http://www.whitehousehistory.org/04/subs/1828_b.html

    Kevin

  • ||

    Tim, you are on FIRE with the last two posts...

  • ||

    Easy for W and wife to wear suits - they didn't have to wait in the sun for 4 hours. I went in shorts and a polo shirt, same as my wife. As the Red Cross volunteer said to us - there's nothing macho about passing out.

    Bonehead.

  • ||

    Q: What's the difference between Tim Cavanaugh and Catholic League scold William Donohue?

    A: Difference?

  • ||

    did your senses of humor die along with reagan?

    though i can see how waiting in the sun would make one less inclined to giggle at badly-dressed people waiting in the sun.

  • ||

    I, too, waited in the sun for about three hours prior to the procession, dressed in black tee shirt and khaki shorts. I don't think that the attire of the crowd had anything to do with a lack of respect. The people near me had nary a disrespectful word. One family standing near me (at 1600 Constitution) was dressed to the max, but they paid the hot, sweaty price.

    We may have been dressed like slobs, but there was enough respect for the dead that we didn't pull a stunt like that at Khomeini's funeral.

  • ||

    Most of these yahoos weren't well-wishers paying their last respects. They were tourists and gawkers. I've heard several simular comments: "This is an opportunity to be a part of history" and "This is a once in a lifetime chance". I don't know.. standing in front of a flag-draped coffin dressed in tank tops and flip-flops isn't the way to do it.

  • ||

    Hehe, yeah, I saw all the slobs in all their fanny-pack glory. I'm sorry, but I don't care if you're going to a State Funeral, or you're going out to walk the dog, there's absolutely NO fuckin excuse for a fanny pack.

    Secondly, I like the whole idea of people dresing for the weather, if they're going to take a day off from work, just to have to wait in the sun for 5 hours, just to get a quick peek at a casket. I mean, let's look at this from the "respect" perspective originally raised by Tim Cavanaugh. Which is more disrespectful to Reagan's corpse: some dude in neon yellow shorts and a nascar shirt who stayed cool, or some guy in a 3-piece suit who is gushing with sweat and smelling like the 'Skins locker room? Hmm, suddenly, the Nascar shirt doesn't look (or smell) so bad...

  • ||

    When people turn up to my funeral I won't care what they're wearing, it would be the fact they turned up that mattered.

    'Course, I'd be dead and therefore wouldn't care one way or another, but the point's the same.

    Requiring dress codes is daft, this is the 21st century.

  • ||

    Om the one hand....

    One problem, however, was heat exhaustion. Several dozen people fainted because of the high temperature and humidity combination that Washington summers -- but not necessarily early June -- are famous for.

    http://www.washtimes.com/upi-breaking/20040610-040114-1650r.htm

    On the other hand, I think if I was visiting the nation's capital, I'd at least have a pair of khaki Dockers and a logo-less polo shirt I could don.

    We should all be glad that President Reagan's funeral wasn't in August. I am of the opinion that a major barrier to legislative excess was eliminated when air conditioning was introduced to the Potomac basin.

    Kevin

  • ||

    I'm with Tim. If there ever were a time for formal attire, the funeral of a beloved president would be it. Hell, people dress better than that when they're going to a sweaty dance club to end up smelling like smoke and booze anyway.

  • ||

    Anyone who willingly goes to DC in the summer is having brainwave problems. What a swamp.

  • brooke||

    2.5 minutes worth of research would have shown that, no, there is not a Marshalls or a Ross Dress for Less in the District. Nor do a number of Americans who are on vacation in our nation's capital have money in their travel budgets to throw down cash for suits and dresses for the whole family.

    This post was absurd.

    And flip-flops rule.

  • ||

    more proof that reagan-fans are redneck hicks.

    they really are stoopid too, since we all know the GOP is evil.

    i wish these idiots would vote democrat, but they are too big of idiots to support the hand that feeds them.

  • ||

    There is a Filene's Basement on Connecticut Ave. That being said, I look at the dorks in suits in 92-degree heat and think, "Damn, lawyers and government regulators really do have no thought to potential downsides of any decision."

    I dislike fanny packs, but I was at the procession in shorts, and not passing out in the crowd was a near-run thing.

  • ||

    This article is obviously coming from someone who has not had to stand in the humid heat for hours at a time.

    If people had taken your advice and NOT shown up unless 'properly attired' then you would be whining that not enough people lined up to view the casket.

  • Randy Loffelmacher||

    I'm all for elitism Tim, but elitism where & when it matters. Clothes are bullshit. Actions, intentions, and people matter. Whether or not you can afford a suit does not. Whether or not you can afford to be skinny, does not matter.

  • ||

    "Hell, people dress better than that when they're going to a sweaty dance club to end up smelling like smoke and booze anyway."

    And hoping to get laid. No doubt there were some new friendships forged in the casket-viewing lines but probably not many people went there in the hopes of scoring phone numbers from hot chicks.

  • Will Wilkinson||

    Well, Brooke, There's a Marshall's and a Ross's in nearby Virginia. Is it really so hard? Is it? H & M, downtown, is pretty cheap. And, look, people... there's a reason Jesus gave us linen suits.

  • ||

    Haha. I think we just found the missing sixth member of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

    Good show, Tim.

  • Jeff||

    I'm still waiting for an explanation as to why Scaoot Baio was at the California service...

  • ||

    "Actions, intentions, and people matter."

    Fine rhetoric, but I disagree. I believe that one way that we show respect for others is by dressing appropriately. I wouldn't demand that people wait in 90 degrees in double-breasted wool jackets, but is it really too much to ask a guy to put on a pair of trousers, dress shirt and tie, and closed-toe shoes? We're not talking about big bucks here. Oh well, I'm just wasting my breath. I see the same crap every Sunday at church.

    Personal comfort is an important thing, but it's not the only thing. Perhaps the officer in charge should have allowed the military honor guard to wear fatigues instead of class A uniform. They certainly would have been more comfortable.

  • ||

    "Paying Respect" is more for the benefit of the bereaved family than the corpse. The relatives likely find their sadness softened if the visitors wear formal attire, or at least something neat. The message sent by the extra effort in wardrobe is that the dead person was special, and worth special treatment. A million slobs in line sends the message that the deceased is more equal to "Hot Donuts Now".

  • ||

    Loved Reagan, if I wasn't working I would've gone... and would have worn shorts and a Polo shirt... had a fanny pack and a cooler and lawn chairs (yes, I know they didn't want those, I'd have handed mine down the line when we got to T-minus 1 hour or so in line).

    It was a LONG line, I'm not wearing my "Interview suit" for 7 hours in sweaty rainy D.C. with the chance of gettitng really, really dirty or ruined. Sorry fashion mavens. Nancy, Dubya, Laura et al. got to move to the front of the line (no complaints they have a country to run or a husband to mourn). I don't have that option I have to stand in line 5 mayhap 7 hours and I'm bringing food, water, and something to sit on if possible.

    Oh and "Mr. Why Didn't they let the troops wear Class C's" I'm betting the honour guard(s) changed out every 3-4 hours, so they could rest and change uniforms. Certainly the honour guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns do... They didn't have to stand in inclement weather for 7 hours.

    Yes I wear shorts and golf shirts to Mass, too. I figure God and Ronald can see into my heart and are less worried about my attire and more worried about my contrition.

    Finally, seems rather testy posting... I thought this was the home of the "End the War on Drugs"?Free Markets crowd? What happened to letting People Choose or the Wisdom of the Distributed Architecture of the Market System?

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Q: What's the difference between Tim Cavanaugh and Catholic League scold William Donohue?

    A: I think he's the greatest living American and he thinks I'm an idiot.

  • ||

    "I figure God and Ronald can see into my heart and are less worried about my attire and more worried about my contrition."

    Well, figure all you want. I dress up for Mass to show respect for my fellow parishoners. I agree with you that God cares about other things. I find it unfortunate that parents can't instill in their children the idea that enduring a little discomfort is a small price to pay to show respect to those around you. If I dress formally to dine in a fine restaurant, but wear golf togs to church, what value am I teaching my kids? Which occasion has more dignity and importance?

    If people are so concerned about the heat in D.C., why don't they just wear a loincloth?

    P.S.
    Those honor guards are rested every few hours due to the fact that they're "locked up" the whole time, either at attention or parade rest. It has nothing to do with their attire.

  • ||

    "argumentum adsurdum"

    Yes, invoking the image of fat tourists in loincloths was meant to sound absurd. Apparently I think that t-shirts and flip-flops lie closer to the loincloth end of the spectrum than some of the attendees of RWR's funeral...

  • ||

    "If people are so concerned about the heat in D.C., why don't they just wear a loincloth?"

    Actually, as someone else said, it's a swamp here. So loincloths and banana-hammocks are perfectly acceptable attire. And, technically, there is no dress code in the federal government :)

  • ||

    For a tourist in the heart of DC, unfamiliar with the area and carrying a tourist map, stores in Virginia and way out on Conn Ave aren't going to do much good. Actually, you'd be surprised how few retail options in downtown DC there are, especially near the touristy areas. Stupid anti-street life, anti-commercial MacMillan plan. Why the hell shouldn't people be able to sit across Constitution from the Mall and enjoy outdoor dining? That would rule!

    I'm going to hit post now, as I seem to be heading into full planning rant mode.

  • Dimmy Karras||

    This story made the WaPo last week. The mourners "trundled past his flag-draped coffin yesterday wearing flip-flops, cargo shorts and T-shirts, their flabby midsections exposed." Funny stuff, but I don't blame them. Bush himself was complaining about reporters asking multiple questions at his presser yesterday on account of the hear.

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