Focussing things that matter, Ctd

NZ Herald

Phil Goff stated before the election that Labour was focussed on things that matter to Kiwi voters. David Shearer has said as much too…presumably he thinks voters are deeply concerned about men wearing matching sweater vests…certainly Trevor Mallard thinks so, as does Jacinda Ardern who were quick to tweet the important fashion disaster to their followers:

Clearly they are seeking some sort of inspiration from David Shearer’s chief of staff but are only brave enough to bare their arms just now.

I’m not too sure that Waitakere Man is a big fan of sleeveless sweater vests…perhaps they are channeling Republican politics where the sweater vest made a big play in the recent Republican primaries. Rick Santorum was even selling them…I wonder if the Labour boys all ordered theirs from Rick Santorum?

Let us pause to consider the sweater vest, that milquetoast item of men’s wear that is neither a sweater nor a vest but something soft and cuddly and in-between. Let us pause to consider the fact that it has become, bizarrely, a sartorial player in the current Republican primary contest. Has ever a piece of clothing seemed less likely to be a political tool?

Yet check in on Rick Santorum today as South Carolina goes to the polls and you can put money on the fact that he will be wearing a sweater vest during his last push for votes. It is his uniform, just as the V-neck sweater and jeans have become standard wear for Mitt Romney while Newt Gingrich has adopted shirtsleeves and a jacket. But while the latter two candidates have been somewhat dismissive of their dressing, refusing to let it become part of the conversation (Romney hasn’t even deigned to acknowledge the assorted jibes and questions about his luxuriant head of hair, though The New York Times saw fit to put the issue on its front page), Santorum has adopted a somewhat more proprietary approach to his vests.

His attitude seems to be: if you can’t beat ’em – that is to say, if you can’t stop a media that makes image as much a part of public office as any platform – then you should join ’em: that is to say, own what you wear, metaphorically as much as literally. To be specific: if you visit the Santorum website you can find, under “donate”, a special limited edition offer. It’s so astonishing, I am going to quote it in full:

“For a limited time, donate $100 or more using the form below, and we will send you an official Rick Santorum For President sweater vest. Perfect for demonstrating solidarity with true conservatives, this vest is a great way to show your support for Rick. It’s 100 per cent cotton, made in the USA, comes in grey, and is yours for your contribution of $100 or more. Don’t let sleeves slow you down – donate today!”

And so the sweater vest comes to NZ politics…who would have ever thought it would be the Labour party that introduced a Republican idea?

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