Campaign Curiosity: Bomber Jackets
Reader Tammy Piegols wonders:
"I saw on the news tonight that Gov. Ehrlich was wearing an Air Force flight jacket. Why? Was he in the Air Force? His bio skips that part. Why would he wear a flight jacket that he didn't earn? Is this some sort of Republican initiation? My husband had to fly tons of hours to earn his leather."
No, Bobby Haircut was never in the Air Force, not in the military at all, actually. But he's far from alone among politicians in affecting that look out there on the campaign trail. Pols have a strange fascination with bomber jackets. Ehrlich wears that one, inexplicably, and his opponent, Martin O'Malley, was out on the campaign trail last week in a similar leather jacket bearing the insignias of the Baltimore city police helicopter division. (O'Malley's signature look is, rather, the sleeveless t-shirt he used to don in his Irish rocker mode. Ehrlich tends more toward the jacketless business look.)
And across the river in Virginia, Democratic Senate hopeful Jim Webb was out this weekend wearing--you got it--a leather bomber jacket: "James Webb was dressed in Saturday casual -- earth-tone sweater and slacks -- accented by a leather aviator's jacket and his trademark combat boots, worn at the urging of his son, a Marine now serving in Iraq," reported John Cramer in the Roanoke Times.
It's all too reminiscent of the infamous Michael Dukakis military tank helmet gaffe, in which the 1988 Democratic presidential candidate tried to prove through a photo op that he was tough on defense, but ended up making a complete fool of himself. (Madeleine Albright also drew criticism for her effort as secretary of state to project a tough-gal image by wearing a fighter pilot's jacket.)
Yet let's cut the pols a break--they do get tired of wearing a business suit every waking moment of their lives, and campaigning is hard physical work. So they search for what to wear. Mayor Tony Williams and some other big-city mayors don the baseball jackets showing the hometeam's colors, which is a nice gesture, but tends to look geeky. So some pols go for the bomber jacket. Presidents get really cool flight jackets with the presidential seal and various military insignias on them, and both Bushes and Clinton could occasionally be seen in that get-up.
But while that makes some sense for the commander-in-chief, the look really comes off as odd on a governor and his challenger, no? Fashion critics, get in here.
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