So what are the priorities as this new group tries to hit the ground running? Below is an email from Ari Adler, press secretary to our new Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, discussing deviations from the newly issued dress code for the press requiring “business attire.” After conferring with leadership, Adler is now willing to let some folks to dress in “business casual” when they cover the House. (A reporter friend is threatening to dust off his tux as an upscale protest.)
What exactly was the problem? Were reporters showing up in sequins and spandex? (If so, please send us the photos. Tim Skubick and Rick Pluta in tie-dye would be to die for.)
Is this really how our new high-level leaders should be spending their time?
From: Ari Adler
Date: Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 5:11 PM
Subject: Dress code for House session
As you have probably heard by now, we have instituted a “business attire” dress code for anyone conducting business in the bar of the House, which for you folks would generally mean either the House Floor or the House Appropriations Room.
I have been working with leadership to address concerns raised by some members of the media regarding this stricter dress code.
While we are not changing the official rules, I have been granted authority to provide reprieve to members of the media who are within the bar of the House on official media business. What this means is you will be held to a minimum dress code of “business casual.” The only exception would be TV videographers, who will be allowed to dress down from business casual given the nature of their jobs.
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know.
Ari B. Adler
Office of House Speaker Jase Bolger
Sorry, Ari, but as a communications pro, you should know that wasting time on a dress code merely feeds the narrative that Republicans often make the mistake of caring more about how you look than what you do.Recent research confirms that there are psychological differences between folks on the left and on the right. Righties are generally more authoritarian. They see the world in black and white, good and evil (with them placed squarely among the good, of course). They are the kind of folks who love uniforms. Think Sterling Hayden as Gen. Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove.
Lefties, in contract, revel in ambiguity. They love living in the wishywashy grey where they can be heard saying “on the one hand . . . and on the other hand . . ..” Think Sam Kinnison.
Think of how dumb Gov. Michael Dukakis looked wearing that helmet in the tank, though I have to admit Rudy Giuliani always looks comfortable in a dress.
Unchecked, the right trends toward fascism, while the left lurches toward anarchy. Worrying about what those pesky reporters are wearing rather than getting them the information they need feeds into the narrative that Republicans are the kind of folks who keep mowing the lawn while the house is on fire.
What happened to all that Tea Party talk about personal liberty? Apparently, freedom doesn’t extend to the media. And why would you start your term by insulting a press corps whose goodwill you need? (Will the next memo be on personal hygiene? Perhaps Ari could issue each reporter a toothbrush?)
Decades ago, when I first came to Lansing, I attended a meeting of the Michigan Press Association at the old Jim’s Tiffany Lounge where a reporter was interviewing then-Governor William Milliken. The reporter, who shall remain nameless mostly because I cannot remember who it was, sat down at the end of the session and crossed his legs, revealing a gaping hole in the sole of his shoe – a reminder that reporters do not always come from the same patrician class as our leaders.
Rick and the boys can afford to wear anything they want. Yet I note that our new guv takes great pride in deciding when and where he will wear a tie. (“Ties definitely are out in Snyder administration” – Lansing State Journal, December 29, 2010.)
Why can’t the new administration grant that same level of sartorial freedom to the press corps? Or are they the lowlifes who must quickly get the message that their job is to take orders, not give them?