Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Trump's Unbuttoned Jacket

One of my professors in law school told us a story about his first appearance before the Supreme Court. He had thirty minutes for his oral argument, and about ten minutes in something went radically wrong. “Counsel,” said one of the Justices, “I can't hear a word you're saying with that jacket unbuttoned.” The lawyer fastened the button, and then he had to start all over, having squandered one third of his presentation on a rookie mistake.

As you travel down the scale of the prestige of the court there is a corresponding reduction in the need for sartorial perfection. Having said that, even in one of the lesser state courts that are devoted to some narrow corner of the law a lawyer is expected to dress respectfully.

In any state court you can wear a nice sports jacket and slacks with a colored shirt and you'll get away with it every day. As long as the tie is not loose and none of the colors are too wild you will pass the hearing without comment from the judge. Even there, though, it's a good idea to fasten one button on the jacket when you stand up. Judges appreciate the gesture, even if they would let it slide if you didn't.

In any Federal court, you really do have to dress up a bit, and you need to be very careful about that button. I worked on one case with two lawyers from Texas, and I attended their first hearing in the local Federal court. One of them wore a nice suit in a dark color, with a white shirt and a quiet tie. The other wore a very nice sports jacket and very dressy slacks, in subdued colors, with a white shirt and a conservative tie. He told me later he always does that at first status conferences to learn something about the judge.

The hearing went for about fifteen minutes, and when all of the business was done the judge spoke to the under-dressed lawyer. “Counsel,” at least the judge addressed him as counsel, that's a good start, “do you own a suit?”

Taken a little aback, the lawyer said, “why, yes, your honor.”

"Please wear it next time.”

Those Federal court judges can be funny. Some of them are angered by double-breasted suits. Most lawyers in Federal court are careful about what they wear, and careful about fastening that all important button, too.

Our fabulous “President Sparky the Wonder Horse's Ass” never fastens a button on his suit jackets. I'm sure that it's part of a grand plan. He wears those custom made, super long ties in shiny single colors, so long that they descend almost to the rise in his pants, and he never buttons his jacket. I would bet you good money that he decided at some point that it was a look that made him appear less fat than he is.

I'm sure that reasoning is shared by his customary way of always sitting forward with his elbows on his knees as though he were on the toilet. He's afraid that if he sits back, or even sits up straight, his giant belly will show in the pictures.

I will not even address his hairdo, or his make-up, preferring to leave such sensitive matters to experts.

None of this is any surprise. He is a vain man, and like any other big, fat, pasty skinned, lumpy, knock-kneed, out of shape vain old man he is sensitive about his lost looks. Not that he was ever a handsome man to begin with, but nature and time push us all down the scale from where we started out.

Trump's unbuttoned jacket bothers me every time. I learned as a lawyer that the manner in which one dresses is always an expression of respect, or the lack of respect. The way one dresses for court; to meet with clients; to attend depositions or meetings in the offices of other attorneys. It's all the same. If you are any kind of gentleman, you are expected to dress appropriately to show respect for the legal process, the judges, opposing counsel, clients, any observers that may be on hand, and respect for yourself as well. I look at Trump's unbuttoned jacket and I see disrespect. He wears the dark suits because he believes that they hide his weight problem. If he thought that track-suits were more flattering, he'd wear them everywhere. He leaves the jacket unbuttoned for the same reason, but the message remains: I have no respect for you.

This is only my opinion, of course, but I don't think that it will meet a lot of counter-argument, because the man obviously doesn't respect any damn body or any damn thing at all.

At this point, I almost wish that the military would step in and throw all of our government officials in some rough-ass camp somewhere for re-education. I wish they'd just take over and run the country. They could leave the courts and the police in place with some new instructions, and they could leave the rich in place as long as they smiled and kept their mouths shut. The military's version of a future for the United States would almost certainly be much closer to core American values than the version that the politicians are working desperately hard to achieve. The generals and admirals could hardly do worse than this bunch of pirates now in charge, and they could hardly do more damage to American traditions or culture. This solution is currently in place in many countries around the world where the politicians had clearly demonstrated that they cannot be trusted. The system often works fine. The military may guide the country back to democracy or not, depending on the likelihood of the returning politicians just resuming their destructive mischief. It might be worth a try.

That's what I think on good days. On bad days, I believe that the only workable solution for the world's problems would be to blast the entire planet down to bedrock and eject every molecule of the atmosphere and the oceans into space. Make it a lifeless rock in the void. Some days I think that's all that we deserve.

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