Hawaii congressman Mark Takai wants casual Fridays in the House of Representatives. Very casual. As in everybody would be encouraged to wear Hawaiian shirts, those iconic colorful shirts featuring flowers, hula dancers, ukuleles and surfers, among other island themes. This means so much to Takai that he has officially asked for the dress code change in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (who honestly just wishes everyone would dress like Lord Voldemort).
Yep. That’s the kind of can-do initiative I like to see in someone else’s congressman. “ISIS SCHMISIS! Pass the poi and let’s get lei-ed!”
The phrase tone-deaf springs to mind. Takai, who is (cough, sputter) a Democrat, has a funny sense of priorities. Casual Friday? How about just trying to find a few house members who will actually be there on a Friday? Congress isn’t even in session 40 percent of all weekdays, according to The Washington Post and they are especially good at not showing on Fridays and Mondays.
This calls to mind my very first newspaper job in which I learned that a certain pressman would never show up on a Monday. Rather, he would be nursing a masterful hangover that his timid but sweet wife would recast on the phone to our boss as “a scratchy throat.” We roared at the notion that running a printing press required an A-1 throat but it was simply understood and, thus, excused.
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All of which is to say that Congress has “a scratchy throat” and is often absent on Fridays. Perhaps showing up in any shirt, even one decorated with overlapping images of Don Ho demonstrating the hang 10 hand sign, would be welcome.
Look, I think that, while his timing is odd, Takai’s heart is in the right place. For 20 years, he served in the Hawaii state house, where every Friday was Aloha Friday. The casual vibe inspired by the loose-fitting shirts led to general feelings of “diversity, inclusion and friendliness” he told Ryan in his letter.
Yes, but. Isn’t that asking a lot of a shirt? It’s not a Superman suit or Wonder Woman bracelets. Sure, I know that the right outfit can give you a spring in your step, but does Takai honestly think a roomful of politicians dressed like waiters at a Disney World froyo stand would be magically transformed into effective do-gooders? I suppose he could be confusing the current Congress’ regrettable fondness for “the limbo” as a sign that this is an idea whose time has come.
While this particular do-nothing very un-aloha Congress stumbles along like a blind mule in a pumpkin patch, it’s hard to imagine that leaving behind “full business attire” on Fridays would cause any lasting improvement.
On the other hand, why not? This thing could spread to the Senate, and I’d love nothing more than seeing Ted Cruz show up for work wearing a purple shirt with shrunken monkey heads all over it. Hard to be preachy and obnoxious wearing a shirt like that.