Any plaid pants in your closet?

Here's Garrison Keillor, in 1997, on plaid pants:

TR: Get into the mood of spring with a pair of bright, festive plaid pants - the fashion exclamation - plaid pants, one way of saying, "This is me, it couldn't be anyone else."

GK: In primitive aboriginal tribes, the male who wore the brighest colors was the most virile and agressive, and it's the same in this country too.

TR: That's right. If you get yourself the right pair of pants, people will remember you for years afterward.

GK: With bright plaid pants, you'll get faster service in restaurants, and you'll never be struck by a moving vehicle.

TR: Plaid pants keep bugs off and distract opponents in golf matches, and they revitalize your marriage or whatever else is going on in your life.

GK: So - get happy. Get a load of pants at Gary's Plaid Pants Warehouse, where the giant pants on the flagpole show you the way to big pants savings. Available only where sold, should not be used when operating heavey machinery.

Ten years later, I'd like to ask a very simple question.

Since when is PLAID gay?

No, seriously. While I can't believe this has become a matter of public debate, it has. And as a longtime critic of the "fashionista" approach to ad hominem politics, I feel obligated to speak up. What's called a "whispering" campaign of gay innuendo boils down to a picture of John Roberts wearing 1970s-style plaid pants. This, we are supposed to believe, makes the man's sexuality questionable.

Not that I'd care whether he was photographed in drag, mind you. But plaid? Where I grew up, plaid pants were a standard variety of preppie, country club attire, and there was nothing gay about them then. (I've always associated them more with drunken, golf-playing, heterosexuals than anything else.) Nor do I think there's anything gay about them now. Back in the 70s (and 80s, and even into the 90s) the gay scene to the extent I've been familiar with it was best known for a Levis and T-shirts look.

Plaid pants in a gay bar?

I can't remember ever seeing such a thing. It wouldn't have, um, worked.

Yet the meme for today is that paid pants are gay. I'm sorry, but I think they've cooked this up exclusively for John Roberts.

The larger issue, of course, is the outright paranoid anti-gay McCarthyism underlying this attempted smear. (Remember, this comes on the heels of an attempted smear against the man's four-year-old child.)

What I think might be going on is that because most Americans (including conservatives) are less and less interested in personal issues, these smears have to be ratcheted up accordingly to get anyone's attention: is the height of hypocrisy for the (allegedly) pro-tolerance crowd to start questioning someone's sexual preference. It's a strange and twisted tactic for those who are allied with the gay rights movement to try to make an issue out of someone supposedly being gay.

Who cares?

Well, that's just the point: they think we do. They think that they can undermine support for someone among conservatives if they can dredge up some sort of homosexual connection -- or, in this case, just the manufactured whiff of a question.

(Via Power Line, Law Dork, Ann Althouse and InstaPundit.)

The discussion, I note, is replete with links to America's most ferocious "fashionista," the famed Jodi Wilgoren (whose skills I have noted and admired repeatedly).

Fashionism is getting downright creepy.

UPDATE: Via Michelle Malkin, I see that Justice Roberts' entire family is being attacked for being -- what is it? -- overdressed?

The nominee was in a sober suit with the expected white shirt and red tie. His wife and children stood before the cameras, groomed and glossy in pastel hues -- like a trio of Easter eggs, a handful of Jelly Bellies, three little Necco wafers...
I suppose if he'd worn blue jeans and his wife and daughter wore flipflops, Bush would have been accused of appointing a "badly dressed" (white trash) nominee to the court.

You think I'm kidding? When I was in Nashville, here's what was said about the attire of bloggers:

If the attendees at BlogNashville are any indication, bloggers are very white, very male and very bad at dressing themselves.

(Via Sean Hackbarth.)


I was wearing a suit, so I suppose I could have been attacked for neatness.

Fashionism is a no-win.

posted by Eric on 07.26.05 at 08:57 AM


Where I live, in the decadent East, plaid pants are known as a "half Cleveland." Plaid paints, white belt, white loafers without socks, and a paunch are "full Cleveland."
Hey, guys, I come from Ohio. Don't blame me.

Miriam   ·  July 26, 2005 10:49 AM

Hardly sounds "gay" to me.

And I just wonder what the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" folks would say about all this....

Eric Scheie   ·  July 26, 2005 11:08 AM

The Left is using every stereotype in the book to smear Justice Roberts. I bet it's not going to work. They smeared Clarence Thomas, too, and he's on the Supreme Court. As I've said many times before, the Left's support for homosexuals, for women, for Jews, for Negroes, or for workers or the poor, is entirely phony. Once you've outlived your usefulness to them, they'll send you to the gulag.

As to plaid pants, myself I've never worn any nor ever thought about it. I've always worn plain black pants like I'm wearing now. I am, however, turned on by plaid skirts on women.

For most of fifty-five years, plaid pants has been the symbol of the "regular guy." (See the Rodney Dangerfield movie EASY MONEY for more on the Regular Guy Look.) Regular Guys would be shocked to learn that they wore anything that could remotely be interpreted as "Gay."

Bilwick   ·  July 26, 2005 12:12 PM

I was forced to wear plaid pants for a fashion show when I was 3 (circa 1977). (Sorry, all pictures have been destroyed.) I hope no one ever excuses me of being gay because of it--not that there's anything wrong with that.

Sean Hackbarth   ·  July 26, 2005 8:28 PM

"I am, however, turned on by plaid skirts on women."

Holy Dawn, captive Goddess of her holy Negro wife Norma.... ....struggling eternally against wicked Wanda....

"Once you've outlived your usefulness to them, they'll send you to the gulag."

This, Steven, is the whole point that I utterly failed to make clear to Arthur Silber.

It appalls me to see the quality of people that my friend Bruce McQuain is hanging out with at QandO. Arthur runs his blog by himself, but his case is completely horrifying in the people with whom he has associated himself since the war began.

Billy Beck   ·  July 27, 2005 12:44 PM

FunnyŚ when I think of plaid pants, I think of "extremely unfashionable." (The fact that there *can* be fashionable plaid pants does not negate the fact that the vast majority of them are ugly.)

So... now "unfashionable" is a gay thing? I thought the meme ran the other way...

B. Durbin   ·  July 27, 2005 2:47 PM

Billy Beck:

Excellent, and quite true about Arthur Silber and his new "friends". I continue to read his blog just to see what he's up to. I have to say about him -- quite a character, ha! ha! ha! (Bounces back and sticks to me, of course, too. ha! ha! ha! ha!)

"No more comments. Ever."
-Arthur Silber

ha! ha! ha! ha! ha!

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