The clothes don’t make the man, but can a hat make or break a presidential campaign?
Abraham Lincoln is forever linked to his stovepipe hat, but headwear hasn’t been all that useful to presidents since John Kennedy allegedly killed the hat.
Donald Trump is the so-called front-runner in a crowded field for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He has deep pockets, but also a big mouth and unruly hair, seemingly neither of which he can tame. (“We shall over-comb,” as they say.)
Classic rope hat
That’s not entirely true, because The Donald also has The Hat, which proves especially useful in the face of wind during outdoor appearances.
As his campaign website gushes, it’s the “classic rope hat as worn by Donald J. Trump himself.” Made in the United States, it is available for $25 in red, white (navy or gold thread), and black.
And its very existence disqualifies Trump for the presidency.
You can take issue with the things he says about immigrants, about women, about Jeb Bush. But for me, it’s his highly touted hat with the adjustable plastic strap that punctuates his “unfittedness” for office. It suggests a simplicity of outlook, a one-size-fits-all approach to solving complex problems.
Of course, it would be a logistical challenge to offer fitted hats, and all of the candidates — Republican and Democrat alike — lack daring on this front. How about a bipartisan compromise: flexfit.
Anyway, what sets Trump’s hat apart is its unabashed cheesiness.
“The hat’s foamy front — apparently made from a repurposed beer koozie. The double divots framing the central peak. And of course the braided rope that elegantly stretched across its brim.”
It looks like something you’d find at a shopping mall kiosk, right down to the all-capitalized campaign slogan, “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” embroidered on the front. The slogan is an echo of Ronald Reagan’s “Let’s Make America Great Again. “Note how Trump tweaks it to be both less inclusive and more bossy,” Stevenson wrote.)
Trump’s slogan, on virtually every other piece of campaign merchandise — from buttons and pennants to T-shirts and megaphones — has an exclamation mark at the end. Inexplicably, it was left off the hat.
And he’s going to accuse Jeb Bush of having zero energy? Jeb! at least has an exclamation mark on his hat!
Trump could be – no, he definitely is – arrogant enough to think that he is the best person for this job. But what if the electorate doesn’t agree?
So then the question will become: How does the campaign trail end for Trump?
If his behavior often is bullying and abrasive (no doubt that’s also part of his appeal) while he’s on top, then what will he be like if he has to concede defeat? After all, while he has suffered losses in the real estate market, he has never had to concede the most public of referenda, an election.
It’s hard to envision something dignified, such as with a heartfelt thank you to his supporters, kind words for his foes, and a doff of his classic rope hat.