So, the thought came to me, what would the current lot of candidates look like wearing togas? Who could pull it off? Here are my thoughts.
Sanders: No. He’d look like a guy escaping from the old folks’ home dragging a sheet.
Bloomberg: Yes. And he’d look like the most evil-eyed emperor you ever saw.
Biden: Yes. But he’d be looking for the frat party.
Buttigieg: Yes. And his pleats would be so sharp you could get cut on them.
Trump: No. Can’t see it.
Klobuchar: No. Togas were men’s clothing. I could see her wearing a palla and stole, though, quite easily.
Well, once you start down this road, where does it end? I thought of more period get-ups to dress the candidates in. Who could unself-consciously wear a kilt?
Sanders: He’s as angry as Willie the Groundskeeper, but No. I can’t see him in a kilt.
Bloomberg: Oh dear God, no.
Buttigieg: I could see him willing to try, but I don’t think he could carry it off.
Trump: Yeah, I can totally see the Donald lumbering around in a kilt.
Klobuchar: No. Nor a jumper, either.
How about a Cossack blouse? With buttons on the shoulder and a sash? Fur hat to match?
Sanders: Fur hat, yeah, but Cossack blouse? Even though he honeymooned in the old USSR, I don’t think he’d be caught dead in such a thing.
Trump: No, can’t see it.
Klobuchar: Get real.
Okay, so how about a Sioux war bonnet? Calvin Coolidge got talked into wearing one at a meeting with Native American leaders, which led to FDR (I think) formulating the first rule of Presidential leadership: Don't wear any silly hats. But that said, if a tribal Chief offered, who could get away with wearing a feather bonnet?
Bloomberg: No. Although he does already look kind of like a cigar store Indian.
Biden: Sure. And he’d look as goofy as only Biden can.
Buttigieg: No. People would think he was one of the Village People.
Trump: No. He’d have Pence do it.
Warren: I’d give a hundred bucks to see Warren wearing a Native American bonnet, but I can’t imagine she’d get anywhere near one, despite – or rather, because of – her deflated claim to be part Cherokee.
Well, how about academic regalia? Which is a thing Presidents sometimes do wear, you know. Who would look like he or she belonged in cap and gown?
Sanders: Yes, but he’d make it look like he was wearing a potato sack.
Bloomberg: Yes. Just like the uptight Dean of Students in Animal House, determined to expel anyone caught having any fun.
Biden: No. This, despite my thinking I’ve seen a picture of him wearing it.
Buttigieg: Yes, but he’d look like the Class President, set up front to make it look like he had something to do with the proceedings and told not to dangle his legs while sitting in the big chair.
Trump: No. Trump would accept an honorary degree in a blue suit. Like always.
Klobuchar: Yes. She’d look just like any other professor on the stage.
Warren: Yes. She’s actually been a professor. Probably a mean one. Undoubtedly a blowhard.
Back to the past. I tried to imagine all the candidates wearing Tudor/Elizabethan dress. Ruffs and stuffed doublets. Codpieces, flat caps. Breeches and hose and chains of office. Big sweeping gowns and furs. A Man for All Seasons stuff.
Sanders: No. The only thing he’d be wearing is a jester’s outfit.
Trump: No. The Donald might resemble Henry VIII in some ways, but I can’t see him wearing all that heavy stuff. Though he might fancy a codpiece.
Klobuchar: I can’t see her wearing a wimple or anything, but ruffs and diamonds and all that Good Queen Bess affect, yeah, I can totally see her doing that.
Warren: No, wrong period. I could see her as Maleficent in a 14th-Century houppelande, but not as Mary Tudor.
Finally, I tried to imagine each of the candidates wearing a military uniform.
Sanders: Yes. As one of Sergeant Bilko’s platoon.
Buttigieg: Oddly enough, Buttigieg is the only maybe-viable candidate remaining who has actually served in the military. But I have a hard time seeing him in that role.
Trump: No. Even though we have a picture of him wearing a uniform as a cadet at a military academy, No. Doesn’t fit the mold.
Well, there's my thought experiment. Can you imagine any other outrageous things to have the candidates appear in? And lest you think this is too unserious for politics, let me remind you -- nothing is too unserious for politics. And a debate stage is just another kind of beauty pageant.