Independently Dressed

In the third and final part of his look at the style quirks of the '08 presidential field, Glenn O'Brien sizes up a possible third-party ticket.


It's too soon to tell, but don't be surprised if the old third-party trick is trotted out once again, but this time with a slate that looks, well, pretty sharp and sensible. These guys aren't George Wallace or Ross Perot—they're contenders.

Michael Bloomberg—former Democrat, former Republican, and current Independent—is probably the most presidential-looking of all the candidates, except for his stature. And let's face it, height isn't what it used to be. The President of France is shorter than Napoleon was. It's all about TV now, not real life.



He dresses with style and taste. His accessories are politic, with his stars and stripes not too big, and his apple advertising his city. He even wears subway-token cuff links, symbolizing how he gets to City Hall each day. Well, at least the part of the journey after his limo drops him off at the subway station.



Actually his taste is a little too good—note the excellent tie and the spread collar… not very populist. But he's smart enough to dumb down for the handshake occasion with the requisite red tie, white shirt, and gray suit. His main image problem, like many politicians, is that he seems ill-at-ease in casual togs. He looks like his sports clothes were bought for him, and he doesn't even have a wife he can blame.


Still, he generally gets it right. Most politicians would wear a one-size-too-large golf shirt, but he's right on with this one, which makes him look trim and fit.




Arnold Schwarzenegger, aka The Governator, is the logical VP candidate of any Bloomberg run. It would take a constitutional amendment to make him eligible for the Presidency, as he is not a natural-born citizen of the United States. (There may be some doubt about John McCain, too, born as he was in the Panama Canal Zone.) But there's no reason he can't serve as VP. Arnold has cleaned up nicely. No more embarrassing muscles. His tailor is a genius, cutting suits that make him look quite human and not at all Terminal.


He hardly even looks like the same species as the Arnold of yore.


He must spend at least $400 on those haircuts.

He knows how to do tie-less. Like any Hollywood star worth his print on Sunset he knows how to look casually casual—trim short sleeves, flat-fronts, and just the right shades.



My only suggestion for this superstar is that Maria Shriver Schwarzenegger go through his lingerie drawer and toss any remaining bikinis, thongs, or posing straps. Those days are gone forever!


He has a nice sense of color, but he keeps it simple. Simplicity, in fact, is a big part of Arnold's appeal. He has a sort of sensible, populist manner, and quite unlike the current regime he seems very capable of learning from his mistakes.


Is there something scary about a vice president with a Dr. Strangelove accent who used to work in a posing strap? Not after Dick Cheney. I like Arnie; and now that Bloomy has taken to comparing us to the Brits in the Revolutionary War, well, I have to say the guy is smart. The Republican candidates look more and more insane, the Democrats look more and more craven.

There's something about the management styles of these new-breed Independents that's very attractive. I think they could make a good run at it, but they need a name for their party. I think maybe it's time to bring back the Whigs—which counted among its ranks Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Winfield Scott, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and the young Abe Lincoln. What did they stand for? Modernization, economic development, and the supremacy of Congress over the Executive. Sound refreshing? And Whig just plain sounds good. Can't you see the headlines? Whigs Win Big!

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Could the Dems Possibly Lose?

In part two of his look at the '08 presidential field, Glenn O'Brien ponders the style problems of the Democratic Party.


Joe Biden looks senatorial, which is even better, I suppose, than looking presidential. Even though his campaign chests are empty, he looks like his personal coffers are loaded.


Obviously the man employs a tailor. His fine clothes fit him perfectly. No off-the-rack sack suits for Senator Biden. Look at his jackets—trim and fitted with no gapping at the collar. He shows just the right amount of cuff, and his shirt collars lie perfectly on his neck. His linen is always crisp and snowy white. His ties are never too fat. His knot is always perfect. He can wear a double-breasted suit or a tab collar shirt.

Any CEO could take some tips from Biden's style. He's not exactly just-plain-folks. In fact, Biden may look a little too bespoke for a White House run. Still, there's something likeable about him, and I'm hoping for Secretary of State Biden. It's about time we had a statesman who, when he puts his foot in his mouth, it at least has a Berluti shoe on it.



Writing about Hillary Clinton's style as a candidate is a little apples and oranges, but then she's the only orange we've had since Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic VP candidate of 1984. Besides, there are many similarities between what works for a male candidate and a female candidate.

One of Mrs. Clinton's problems has been a lack of consistency. Of course, it's easier for men than women when it comes to dressing for office. Men can just wear the suit. A woman who just wore the suit in the Senate is liable to be labeled a lesbian, which is just the sort of image the former first lady is trying to avoid. Women almost have to wear color and dress with versatility, and it's easy to attack them for it. Nancy Pelosi was scourged for wearing red, and recently The Washington Post, of all outlets, took Hillary to task for allegedly showing cleavage in the Senate. It's no fault of hers. It runs in the family. Bill showed cleavage in the Capitol too, at the height of his chowhound Presidency.


There aren't too many positive role models for women politicians. Margaret Thatcher was positively upholstered, looking like a banquette in a tea room. As President of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto dressed like a compromise between the Blessed Virgin and Greek singer Nana. As far as I can tell, about the only female head of state to get it right is German chancellor Angela Merkel. She dresses very plainly and demurely, but with a feminine sense of color, and discreet pearls.


But her taste and discretion wasn't enough to repel amateur chiropractor George W. Bush from mugging her, and that shows just how tough it is for a lady head of state to strike that perfect balance of attractiveness and authority.

As First Lady Mrs. Clinton often dressed grotesquely and in the very worst of taste, but adding that 'Senator' to her name seems to have transformed her somewhat. These days she often looks smart and dignified (well, at least her clothes do) by keeping it simple.


Stylistically, Mrs. Clinton's great challenge is to try to nip her tendency to make monstrous faces while mugging for crowds and cameras. It's as if she had the silent film version of Tourette's Syndrome.





Combined with her strident, abrasive voice and staccato, almost random accenting of syllables in public speeches, her body language tics make an intelligent and able politician appear unsympathetic. Never has their been a better argument for deadpan. Her body language is one case where less would be much, much more. In fact, were I Hillary's style consultant, I would explore the possibility of loading her face with Botox until she is capable of only the most minimal smiles. Save that G-Spot eye-popping for the Lincoln Bedroom.

I would also suggest that she avoid changing hairstyles, or wearing anything that Michael Jackson might also fancy. I would also avoid Victoriana (and especially her Star Trek version of it, exemplified by this high-neck blouse).


I'd rather see her cleavage than imagine what retro-crusade lurks in the heart under all that starch.


Christopher Dodd's main qualification for President is that he has exactly duplicated Tip O'Neill's historic Speaker of the House hairdo. It. That's some thatch of pure white hair. It's so white and fluffy his head looks like somebody put a head on it.


Senator Dodd has a strong face, with cruel, steely, Politburo eyebrows, one eye observantly open, the other skeptically narrowed. He's a big, stocky fellow but he's not obese, at least not when he's standing next to Ted Kennedy, as he often does.


Senator Dodd is very senatorial. You can almost picture him in a toga (though he's 100 percent Irish, which is why he wears a green tie as often as not.)


That green could also stand for bigtime greenbacks, as he was the Golden Leash Award winner in 1998 for the sums he accepted from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other financial firms.

Nevertheless, Dodd strikes this observer as a straightforward guy with an honest, direct manner. He is certainly an intelligent and qualified candidate. He has terrific dignity and carriage for a big old Mick, but he was a handsome youth and has dated Bianca Jagger and Carrie Fisher, so he has the residual confidence of a former face man. Yet he could never be accused of style over substance. Which means he could use a bit of a style update. I'd give him a trim to keep the hair out of his eyes, a blue rinse to prevent yellowing of his white freak flag, and I'd send him to a bespoke tailor. Even big lugs should have suits that fit, and a good tailor could help hide that Guinness gut.


John Edwards is a beauty. There's no other way to say it.


He's got blue eyes, a dimple in his chin, a full head of chestnut hair, and a million-dollar smile. He's 54, so he's no kid, but he looks more like 39, and the only lines in his face are from smiles.


Of course, beauty is always a suspect quality in a man, and to pull it off you have to show that you're also tough and for real. This is why they went after Edwards's haircut and his primping. Ann Coulter called him a "faggot" because only a fag would fuss with his hair for two minutes before going on camera, right? Bush would fuss with it for five seconds and then give the finger. The Republicans knew they could swift-boat Edwards on the hairdo and the fact that he paid $400 to a hairstylist for a haircut (a hairstylist who had to spend an entire day flying to him), because they did the same thing to Bill Clinton in 1993, when he got a $200 haircut from an L.A. stylist named Christophe, while Air Force One was parked at LAX. One only wishes that there existed footage of Giuliani cantilevering his hair from Manhattan to Brooklyn, back in his old mayoral comb-over days.

Anyway, Edwards hasn't underestimated the value of a good shock of hair. It was certainly a factor in JFK's election—as he took over from bald old Ike, defeating greasy kid stuff Nixon. Just as the Beatles began to shake their mops, he let his substantial hair flow in the winds of change, dooming the fedora to extinction.


Anyway, you can't fault Edwards on his appearance. He looks good in a suit, and in shirt sleeves and casual clothes.


He's not faking casual. He's so real I bet he distressed these jeans himself.

He doesn't wear silly hats. The only thing I would do with his casual look is get him into slightly slimmer dress shirts so he can compete with Obama's model-like sleekness.


Quick! Who was the last president with a moustache? Well, Mike Gravel doesn't have a 'stache anymore. Undoubtedly he caved to advisers who told him some people think it makes a man look shifty, as if he had something to hide. But it wasn't long ago that he sported a fur soup strainer rather like that hideous growth between John Bolton's pie hole and snuff ports. That moustache actually made him look a little more superficially interesting. And Mike is more than superficially interesting. He's the real deal.


And he's no city slicker. Gravel dresses like a suburban shop teacher—sometimes slightly bohemian, like the dark gray tie over the dark gray shirt under the gray suit he's wearing above.



The one-time Walter Matthau look-alike no longer has the sharp features of his youth, and he's gotten a little dumpy. Nothing that couldn't be improved by staying away from severe colors like black and wearing fuddy-duddy sweaters under his jacket. I know it's cold in Alaska, but get some silk long johns, Mike, or go all the way with an Irish fisherman's sweater. If I were advising Mr. Gravel I'd suggest he lose the tie. He has lousy ties, and in the debates this unpredictable candidate tends to wear the predictable red one. Tieless, he gives off an almost socialist vibe.


Be the Alaskan you are, Mike. Embrace the flannel! Wear the mukluk! By the way, the last President with a moustache was William Howard Taft.


It's important to mock Dennis Kucinich's atypical appearance because he makes so much sense that if people thought he wasn't a kook or a nerd they might elect him and not the same old, same old we seem destined to have foisted on us.


I have to admit that I love Kucinich. He's my man. He speaks the truth, and doesn't pander, and he makes more sense than anybody in the run, with the possible exception of Republican Heretic Ron Paul (and Mike Gravel on a good day.) But he's a Vegan! And he's short! Pixie short. And he looks like Alfred E. Newman! Okay, these things are true. Nevertheless, the man is right about nearly everything, and he's honest. Still, I guess people want someone who looks like what central casting thinks a president should look like. (Didn't Republican Central Casting give us Fred Thompson?) I don't know why Harrison Ford doesn't run. He's the guy Hollywood thinks looks most like a President. Hey, here's an idea: Ford/Kucinich. It could be the Dems' answer to Bush/Cheney. A body in front and a brain in the back.

Unfortunately Mr. Kucinich is not a visual guy.


In group photos he's the one with his eyes closed. He's about as into clothes as Ralph Nader, who became stylish by accident when his retro skinny ties and lapels came back in style twenty years later. It wasn't long ago that Dennis looked like his wardrobe came from K-Mart (no doubt he boycotts Wal-Mart) but he has sharpened himself up some. He's no fool. He knows you have to wear suits and ties, and then sometimes you have to get out there in shirt sleeves. But he is not a natty, self-conscious, and possibly narcissistic dresser like Mr. Biden, Mr. Edwards, or Mr. Obama. He dresses dutifully, and sometimes his lack of savoir faire is endearing, as when he wears those plaid shirts. (Salvation Army?)

If I were advising Kucinich I would put him in dark suits and white shirts and dark narrow ties. Actually, I would dress him exactly like Ralph Nader. His haircut is fairly important, because his ears give him a distinctively elfin appearance. This is not all bad, as elves are empowered to grant wishes, but if his ears look too pointy he tends to look extraterrestrial—possibly Vulcan, like Mr. Spock, with whom he shares a fondness for logic.


Because he's trim he looks good in his shirt sleeves, but he should avoid the traditional baggy shirts and wear them slim enough to show that he's wiry strong, not a bag of bones.


I'd put him in slim suits with flat-front pants and narrow lapels, like Dior. Maybe the new Brooks Brothers Black Fleece collection by Thom Browne would suit this candidate's style. As long as he doesn't show sock. Or Michael Bastian. Jeez, if only New York designers got involved maybe we could have a smart president.


How can you not like Barack Obama? He gets you at hello. That radiant smile; that long, lean profile; that quiet dynamism. That Camelot preppie chic. He's almost too stylish, or let's say he's almost too Kennedy-esque.


Of course, high style worked for Kennedy. He made "charisma" a household word. Style is what got him elected. The cool breezy glamour of Kennedy trumped the sweaty five o'clock shadow and scripted delivery of Tricky Dick Nixon. And now Obama brings a similarly modernist gleam to this crucial race. While Hillary brays at stentorian volume and Biden turns on the old-school power moves, Obama sets just the right tone and volume for today. He speaks with cool, measured reason in a network-quality deep baritone, making serene, steady eye contact and using JFK-like hand signals. Watching him in the debates, the hand signals were almost eerily similar to Jack Kennedy's, and this candidate, self-consciously or not, presents the same youthful vigor and charm that made Jackie's husband the idol and hope of millions.


And in his magnetic speaking manner and slick but disciplined appearance he is eerily reminiscent of the great Malcolm X. At least he avoids glasses and bow ties, so as not to appear too Islamic, which he must avoid since his middle name is Hussein and he's one letter away from Osama. My only tip would be to further distance himself from the Nation of Islam look (and avoid that appearance of almost manorexic skinniness) by wearing some cable-knit crewnecks, cashmere v-necks, or letter-sweater-like cardigans. A relaxed look would add another dimension to his style.



Who is Bill Richardson's style guru? Lou Costello? Carlos Mencia? John Belushi? Pablo Escobar? The former Governor of New Mexico and Secretary of Energy (isn't that a great title?) is three-quarters Mexican and all-American. He has an attractive personality, and a good sense of humor, and he's great on the issues. He'd probably make a terrific president, but he needs to upgrade his presidential style. He looks more like the president of Midas Muffler or Pizza Hut than of the U.S. of A.

Let's start with the hair. It's almost comic. It looks like a hat. I don't think it is. But it's sometimes suggestive of Pablo Escobar, and sometimes reminiscent of the great comic Marty Allen, of Allen and Rossi.



Presidents can't have funny hair. If I were consulting with Bill I'd give him a modern haircut, maybe a little spiky, very Mind of Mencia. I'd put him on a diet and send him to the gym. I'd also put him in jeans and cowboy boots more often. It's his legit heritage, and it always worked for brush-cuttin' Bush.


Richardson is a pretty cool character.


He's made a series of funny ads, like the ones that show him interviewing for the job of President, and the stellar spot that shows him as a Wild West Sheriff, heading them off at the pass and bustin' meth labs. He's a YouTube kind of guy, so maybe he should dress less like a suit. How about one of those sweatshirts that just says "COLLEGE" on it, like Blutarski wore in Animal House?


Al Gore claims that he is not a candidate, but the Academy Award and popular vote winning former Vice President could be the solution to an overcrowded field with no clear-cut winner. Gore is the most presidential-looking prospect out there. He's smart, he's articulate, and he's reasonable, idealistic, and forward thinking. And after a few sometimes agonizing decades he's shaken off the awkwardness, pettiness, and know-it-all hubris he often exhibited in the past. If any candidate has grown up in public, it's Gore.


I'd like to see Al throw his hat into the ring. (Maybe even a real fedora! There's something old-fashioned about him.) He has experience and he has dignity. Sure, he won the last popular vote, but only now has he really acquired a presidential patina. He wore a beard for a while. He's grown rather hefty. But I like it. He finally seems comfortable with himself.

During his beard phase he was teaching at Columbia University. His next move was to put on weight. Usually I would advise a candidate to lose weight—with the exceptions of flyweights Dennis Kucinich and Mike Huckabee—but to me the weight gives Al Gore added substance. He's more planetary, bringing a literal gravitas to the presidential arena that we haven't seen since William Howard Taft.



Note the resemblance between the new Gore and Grover Cleveland, our 22nd and 24th President.


I would suggest that Gore try the bow tie and the high-button jacket. We've had enough of casual presidents in jump suits and flight jackets. It's time that we had another President like Cleveland, whom the great H.L. Mencken called "a good man in a bad trade." Although Gore is a pleasant looking man, no one can accuse him of being superficial or a pretty boy. He has a newfound dignity and a certain reserve associated with intellect and sincerity. And, of course, within that burgeoning body there still beats the heart of a true romantic.


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Rudy Does Fashion Week

Glenn O'Brien on the style quirks of the Republican presidential field.


Rudolph Giuliani's style is far more interesting when he's in his feminine role. Blonde curls, mink, lots of glitzy sequins, and paste. Trudi Giuliani lets it all hang out. (She's the one on the right.)


Sure, he's an ugly broad, but they say you're as beautiful as you feel.

Made a millionaire by 9/11, he has obviously been pointed in the direction of a tailor by a crony or lobbyist: His suits fit him much better today than back in the comb-over era, when they tended to emphasize his physical awkwardness—baggy pants hanging over his shoes, and jackets billowing out from narrow, lumpy shoulders to an accommodating sack waist.


His over-long jackets made his legs look even more stumpy. They look longer in panty hose and high heels.

Today he wears trimmer suits, sometimes even three-button suits, and he at least presents the illusion of a triangular torso.


I miss the comb-over, which seemed to so neatly symbolize his biography (his illusory heroism during the attack on America having combed over a history of blundering management in service to special interests). And the extreme East-to-West of that comb-over was practically Hitlerian in its jaunty sweep.

We rarely see the ex-mayor in sport clothes. When not in a suit or in drag, he has usually worn fire department or police gear (which he's not likely to do now, since announcing that he spent more time at ground zero than most of the clean-up volunteers now suffering from terrible illnesses), or New York Yankees cap and warm-up jacket.


These uniforms-lite showed a somewhat warmer and fuzzier Rudy, but what now that he's on the national stage? They used to call the Dallas Cowboys "America's Team." Maybe Rudy should switch to a green beret and Cowboys jacket.


John McCain is a real old-school he-man. Although he knows how to look senatorial, he is far less conscious of his appearance than a caveman—well, a Geico caveman, anyway.


He's got a bit of a gut, and that's okay, and he's not ashamed. He lets his jacket hang open loose. His tie flops over his stomach, overhanging his belt buckle by some inches.


He's not a buttoned-up guy. Maybe he should be, because his casual carriage makes him look fatter than he is. In shirt sleeves he's often untucked and in danger of plumber's butt.


If I were advising McCain I'd get him into some longer-collared shirts, because in a smaller collar he looks jowlier and fat-faced; I'd trim his jacket cuffs to show some linen, making him look a bit longer; and I'd put him in thinner ties instead of the executive lobster bib. That said, the Senator carries off casual well. Button-down collars help him out, framing his face. He looks surprisingly right in jeans and a flannel shirt or hunting gear. He even looks much less portly. I wonder if Annie Leibowitz put him in a girdle for that Vanity Fair shot with the fishing gear and dog.


I've always thought McCain should ditch the sweaters. I suspect his handlers intended to make him look relaxed, professorial, warm, and comfy. Instead they made him look dumpy and decidedly uncomfy. Interesting that he thought they made him look "gay." I guess real men don't look relaxed. To appeal to Log Cabin Republicans, John, I think you'd need a hoodie.


As a man with totally white hair he should try to keep a tan so he doesn't disappear (and McCain does seem to be disappearing.) There must be a tanning salon somewhere in the Senate office building.


Let's face it. Mitt Romney is running because he's a looker.


The former governor of Massachusetts is positively Ted Danson-esque, and he's got a better head of hair. He's trim and fit, and he's got a Hollywood smile, and the lines in his face prove that he's indeed spent his life smiling, not scowling. He has a good head of mostly-dark hair and a high, intelligent forehead. He has a strong chin and deep-set eyes. He would have made a good televangelist or anchorman. Stylistically his main problem is that he looks a bit too much like an anchorman. He suffers from newsman hair. It looks a little too sculptural and immobile and that makes him look stiff, almost even, well, televangelical.


Were I advising the well-tailored Romney I would get him to let his hair down. I swear that on the rare occasions where his hair has been gale-blown into his face he takes on an astonishing resemblance to St. Ronald Reagan.

Also, there is a shortage of images of Mr. Romney in sport clothes. I would suggest that he learn from Mr. Kerry's blunders and eschew wet suits and bike shorts, but that it wouldn't hurt to show the world a casual side, even if it's a complete fabrication. Somehow that's how things begin.


Fred Thompson has only been an official candidate for hours, but we've still heard a lot about him. He's not a D.A., the CIA Director, a Major General, a Rear Admiral, the White House Chief of Staff, or the President of the United States, he just plays them on TV. But as the last few elections have suggested, could casting the president be a worse idea than electing him (her?). Thompson has been acting in films for twenty years. In 1993 he played a United States Senator in Born Yesterday, and the following year he was elected senator. He has also played Presidents Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Charles Ross, whoever he was. Oh yeah, he was the president who tried to keep a terrorist organization from getting nuclear weapons.

Thompson knows how to dress the part. He knows enough about Hollywood to wear a long tie with his tux. And he's a big guy, but his suits are cut to make him look solid and imposing instead of flabby and self-indulgent.


In many of his pictures he stands with arms crossed, flashing cuffs, the posture of a formidable "I'm not budging" kind of guy.


Plus, he knows how to scowl, and he smiles with complete law-and-order seriousness. He's bald, but in the proud, unashamed manner of a man to whom a full head of hair was youthful folly. Women think he's sexy the same way they thought Kojak and Kissinger were sexy. Fred is a pro. He knows how to pose. Head straight on, body turned slightly as though he's responding to you. Those folded arms say, "I'm a conservative."


And if he's not standing next to a flag, he's wearing one.


Baptist minister Mike Huckabee was governor of Arkansas for ten-and-a-half years, almost as long as Bill Clinton, and, like the former president, he was born in Hope, Arkansas.


A former fatso, Huckabee was diagnosed with diabetes, and he got to work and lost a hundred-and-ten pounds, all of it cat fat, and wrote a book about it. He went from looking like a smarmy, corrupt hulk to looking rather elfin and quite a lot like Tony Randall as Felix Unger in The Odd Couple. Huckabee used to look tough and mean and crafty, wearing his blubber like armor and appearing somewhere between Broderick Crawford and J. Edgar Hoover. The new Huckabee looks happy and energetic, to the point where his eyes are popping out of his head.


While he's certainly a dark horse for the Republican nomination, big daddy Huckabee never would have stood a chance. He had an "on the take" physiology. The new one, at least, looks bright and alert.

As for Huckabee's style, he has little. He's a suit, invariably turned out in dark gray or navy with a white shirt and a red or blue tie. Undoubtedly he had to get new suits after he lost all that weight, but sometimes it looks like they were just cut down. His shoulders and lapels tend to look too big.


He should have used his big drop as an op to restyle himself. If I were advising the reverend I'd put him in thinner lapels, which would make his head look bigger. Huckabee has a tendency to look a bit emaciated, perhaps because he's in a fat man's skin. I think he should go more casual. Thin candidates can do shirt sleeves. With a tan, a close-cropped hairdo, and some sharp shirts and trousers he could be the Obama of the Right. And I wonder if there's anything in the Baptist creed that forbids a little tuck of the loose skin around the jawline.


Senator Sam Brownback is a conservative who believes in "intelligent design." (But obviously not intelligent designers.) An Opus Dei Catholic, he is so unevolved as to oppose gay rights, and he's against abortion even in cases of rape. But Sam loves Mother Teresa, and he has a nice big smile. The boyish Brownback almost always wears white shirts, symbolic perhaps of purity, and he favors the traditional uniform of dark gray suit and red or blue tie.


He seems to wear his glasses less and less, perhaps in an effort to distance himself from Stephen Colbert, whom he resembles slightly. He also somewhat resembles Eddie Haskell from the Leave It to Beaver series, and Don Knotts. Brownback has shown an erratic quirk: He sometimes wears wacky, tacky patterned ties.



Those ties seem anomalous, but perhaps they are worn to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is not gay.


Representative Duncan Hunter is running on a tough-guy position against illegal immigrants and free-trade agreements. He built the fence in San Diego, keeping the 'Meskins' and dope out of Chargers country. The former head of the House Armed Service Committee, he is also a fierce advocate for the rights of the "preborn human person." Hunter is a dark horse who is running to keep America strong, and he makes a strong appearance, with a good head of hair and slightly Romulan eyebrows. Hunter shows a good mastery of rhetorical hand gestures, from the finger point to the nugatory karate chop.


Sartorially he is nobody's fool, although he, too, displays a fondness for almost bohemian neckties, hinting at a possibly anomalous individuality.


Though Hunter's style is definitely old-boy alpha dog, which hasn't been lost on Ann Coulter, who has called him "magnificent." Vietnam vet Hunter is running for Commander-in-Chief, and he talks tough, with a clenched fist and pointed finger, and no fancy stuff. Stylistically, Hunter is fairly presidential looking; he just needs to work on his business casual. Think Fred Thompson with a good head of hair. If only he could learn to keep his mouth shut.


Representative Tom Tancredo is another campaigner against the illegals at our border, and another non-believer in evolution. Tancredo, who was deferred from serving in Vietnam for "depression," is a strong supporter of President Bush's Iraq policies. He has gone on the record calling for the abolition of the Black and Hispanic Republican Caucuses. When Tancredo called Miami "a third-world country," Florida governor Jeb Bush called him a nut. Although rated the most conservative of the Republican candidates, he is not the most conservative dresser, and he has been seen wearing a black crew-neck tee with a suit.


He likes pastel suits, monogrammed shirts, and flashy watches, and he isn't afraid to wear a colored shirt with a tie that John Gotti might have approved of. A look-alike of journalist Gabe Pressman, he is also guilty of wearing a cantilevered comb-over.


While I'm not a fan of Mr. Tancredo's policies, I always like to see politicians with a little Rat Pack influence.


Texas Congressman and M.D. Ron Paul, my personal favorite Republican candidate, ran for president in 1988 as a Libertarian. He's an old-fashioned G.O.P. guy, for small government and staying out of international involvement. He's actually a Republican against the Iraq war who voted against the Patriot Act. Stylistically he has the unusual quality of looking like he's alive and human. He's thin, sprightly, and personable; sort of Buddy Ebsen-like. Think of a much more attractive Frank Perdue. He's slim and generally wears his clothes well.


For a politician he's not a style clone and, like many M.D.s, he likes brave ties.


My only style tip for the good doctor is that he doesn't really need shoulder pads and should always go for a natural shoulder, since he's a "what you see is what you get" kind of guy. He tells it like it is, and his ideas (like abolishing the IRS, not to mention the Department of Homeland Security) are so good he's labeled a kook, just like the independent Mr. Kucinich is labeled a kook. Don't believe it. This guy has true style.

Next: The styles of the Democratic contenders.

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