U.S. Senator John Fetterman, Pennsylvania Democrat, has been accused of showing a “lack of respect” for the long–standing norms of the Senate with his uncharacteristically informal wardrobe choice.
Since returning to the Senate in mid–April following a series of treatments for a stroke—including an auditory processing issue and difficulties with speech—Fetterman has taken to frequenting the Senate halls in gym shorts and hoodies, earning censure from many conservative pundits.
The 6–foot–8 Fetterman, 53, was checked into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in March this year for treatment, and while some close to him have suggested his return to his senate seat is a sign of a strong recovery, others view his laidback attire as a slight against the expectations of his office and the process of democracy.
In order to bypass the Senate dress code of jacket and tie for men, Fetterman will often vote from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom or the side entrance to the Senate floor, according to the Associated Press.
The AP noted that Vermont Sen. Peter Welch joked “he’s setting a new dress code,” and that Fetterman’s “relaxed, comfortable style…is a sign that the senator is making a robust recovery.”
This sentiment, however, has not been agreed with by all. Conservative comedy pundit Tim Young tweeted “John Fetterman’s attire in the Senate perfectly summarizes Democrats lack of respect for Americans and our institutions”, while WABC radio host Bo Snerdley quipped “AP has an excuse for why Fetterman dresses like he crawled out of a dumpster and it’s a doozy.”
Despite the various opinions raised, it appears that Fetterman’s laidback style is having an impact on at least one fellow senator, Republican Katie Britt of Alabama. Britt shared an anecdote with AP, stating that she and Fetterman apparently formed a bond over their shared height and the fact that they have children of similar ages. Britt also says she noticed a considerable difference in Fetterman‘s energy and demeanor after his treatment, adding that the Pennsylvania senator is now “loud and outgoing.”
Whether his bold behavior will soften the hardened opinion of his detractors remains to be seen. Nonetheless, for now, Fetterman and his hoodie continue to flaunt the expected fashion of the upper house.