December 21, 2007, - 1:32 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
What do Barack Hussein Obama and madman Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have in common? Other than both being Muslim under Islamic law (Obama was originally a Muslim–Islamic law: once a Muslim, always a Muslim) and both believing that the U.S. should not be tough on Iran?
Nicholas Antongiavanni, in Today’s Wall Street Journal, reports that they’ve both dumped a garment Islamists reject:
Another revolution is now upon us . . . . Barack Obama — unquestionably the hippest candidate for the presidency since John F. Kennedy — may do to the tie what Kennedy helped do to the hat. . . . [B]y ostentatiously eschewing a hat . . . at a time when the hat’s place in the male wardrobe needed all the high-level support it could get, a very public “nay” vote from that suave, young, handsome patrician helped tip the balance against it.
Today, the tie is in similarly dire straits. Sales are way down. Its status as the sartorial signifier par excellence of business, seriousness and ceremony is in jeopardy. California abandoned it at about the same time, and for many of the same reasons, that the Golden State jettisoned Reaganism. The effete East held out longer, but when Wall Street and the law firms went “business casual” during the last boom, the necktie went on life-support.
There it lingers, kept breathing largely by the unwavering, if unthinking, allegiance of high-ranking politicians. But that too may soon pass away.
It’s one thing for a politician, in the thick of a campaign, to rally the faithful in all his shirtsleeved, open-necked, down-home glory. “I’m one of you” the look is supposed to say — accurately or not. But there are, or used to be, occasions when the people don’t want their leaders to look like one of them — at least not what they look like when they are out washing the car.
Mr. Obama breaks tradition on both counts. He skips the tie at major indoor events, not just outdoor rallies and Rock the Vote concerts sponsored by MTV. He goes tieless not merely in his shirtsleeves, or even with a blazer. He carries the open-necked look into a realm it was never meant to go: with the two-piece, dark business suit.
This heresy earns the young senator praise from today’s keepers of the style tablets. The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan — the acid-penned Madame Blackwell of the Beltway — could hardly contain herself. “[Obama's] tieless suit,” she gushed, “[is] a cross between the style of a 1950s home-from-the-office dad and a 1990s GQ man about town. It is warmly, safely, nostalgically . . . cool.”
Others have noticed something else. Take the impeccably liberal Jeff Greenfield. “Ask yourself,” he challenged his CNN audience, “is there any other major public figure who dresses the way he does? Why, yes. It is Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who, unlike most of his predecessors, seems to have skipped through enough copies of GQ to find the jacket-and-no-tie look agreeable.”
We can thank Mr. Greenfield for being reckless enough to say what many were thinking. But he mistakes Mr. Ahmadinejad’s source. Mr. Obama may have gotten the idea from GQ, but the Iranian President got it from the Ayatollah Khomeini.
One of the lesser-known outcomes of the 1979 Iranian revolution was the stigmatization of the tie as a tool of Western Imperialism. The Ayatollah even denounced some of his perceived enemies as “tie-wearing cronies of the West.” Today in much of the Islamist world, the tie is seen as not merely pro-Western but anti-Islamic, even though no prohibition of the garment can be found in Islamic law. There is a stricture against men wearing silk, but Muslim dandies can get around that by wearing cashmere or linen ties — and many do.
It’s hard to think of anything less hip — or less intended to be hip — than Islamist dogma on personal grooming. Yet despite traveling radically different routes along the way, Messrs. Obama and Ahmadinejad somehow manage to wind up in the same sartorial spot. Sort of like the way Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich share virtually identical foreign policies.
We should hope that the tie survives. It is too noble a garment to let go for light and transient, or dark and sinister, causes.
I love a man in a tie. It makes him look sharp, polished, distinguished, powerful, and sexy. (I’ve always noted that a number of Islamists in Dearbornistan, all of them distinctly unsexy and undistinguished–like “former” Islamic terrorist Imad Hamd–refuse to wear a tie, ever. Yet another reason I don’t love them or Barack Hussein Obama.
Antongiavanni ends his piece by saying:
No doubt, should [Obama] make it to the end, his neck will be covered on inauguration day.
G-d help us, should that day ever come.
Tags: Barack Hussein Obama, California, CNN, Dennis Kucinich, Imad Hamd, inauguration day, Islamic Republic of Iran, Jeff Greenfield, John F. Kennedy, law firms, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, MTV, Nicholas Antongiavanni, politician, President, Robin Givhan, Ron Paul, Senator, terrorist, The Washington Post, United States, Wall Street, Wall Street Journal