[Since this was posted almost two years ago, this blog has received more traffic than any other on my site. Because of intense interest in the upcoming election–along with the return of cooler weather–please check out this update, posted on September 23, 2020. In its concluding paragraph, I refer to the reappearance of President Trump’s ubiquitous outfit, and wonder again–why? RC]
Perhaps we didn’t notice much when he first took office, but as Donald Trump appeared over and over (and over and over) in public, one thing became apparent to the astute observer: as he sought to project a certain image—strength and confidence—he wore a remarkably similar outfit: a black overcoat over his business suit, his excessively long red tie waving in the breeze.
It was as if someone had once told him that in business this outfit represented strength and power. And like the Generals who surrounded him in the early days of his administration (most of which are now gone), he regularly donned this look as a kind of uniform. He often wore it even in balmy weather. Perhaps it was his way of making up for his lack of military service—assuring the American public that he, too, had served his country—only in business, not the military, and that this service demanded recognizable attire which, he determined, was symbolized by the heavy black overcoat and the bright red tie. The “uniform” was to remind us that he was in charge. His self-styled outfit was a symbol that demanded deference and set him apart from his underlings.
But an interesting thing has happened on the way to the midterms. Where once the President was surrounded by aides scurrying about and currying favor, those close to him (and the world-at-large) grew tired of his erratic behavior, his demeaning attitude towards others and his quick dismissal of those who disagreed with him. Recent photos have captured the President in solitary moments, illustrating the increasing isolation that surrounds him as the revolving door in the White House continues to turn and the President becomes increasingly isolated. Now, the wardrobe that once portrayed a confident power seems to portend a very different symbol, one filled with foreboding about what the future holds for this President and his administration.
Where once upon a time, we might have viewed these portraits of the Commander in Chief as moments of contemplation about weighty world matters, we now know better. Contemplation is not one of the President’s strong suits. Where once upon a time, these solitary moments would have been seen as a Commander in Chief in thoughtful preparation for an upcoming summit, strategic planning around a national crisis, deep reflection on historical precedents or the place of the US in the world order, we now know that these are not strong calling cards in the Presidential deck.
And so, instead, the black overcoat seems to harbor a man in despair. Despite holding the most powerful office in the world, with its understandably weighty moments of internal debate and discernment, there is little depth to the occupant of a White House that seems increasingly petty and distracted. The coat’s fabric seems the only thing to have weight as it shields the President, armor-like, from the American people, his increasingly restless staff and, perhaps, even himself.
Donald Trump’s overcoat has become a symbol of the President’s covering over the truth, diminishing the rule of law, promoting an administration that lacks transparency in governance and shielding him from his own self-destructive proclivities. One can almost feel bad for him. And yet, winter is coming. It will be some time before we see him shed his overcoat and move to a lighter wardrobe.
12 thoughts on “Trump’s Overcoat”
A suit of armor is a good analogy. History tells us that many so called strong men who suited up for battle never returned.
Of course I had noticed the President’s attire, especially that coat, cut-longer-than-usual. Even on balmy fall days–that going-to-a-funeral coat. But then I passed it by. Even his black suit stood out at the former president’s funeral. And he stuck out–almost lonely in that crowd. No: He was lonely in that crowd.
It would be saying too much to say that he seemed hardly human–though, he does seem isolated from the rest of us as he was estranged from the other presidents with whom he sat. (Maybe he felt strange in that awesome sanctuary, as he must have felt lonely when the attention was turned on a president who was so obviously respected and loved.)
There are moments when my compassionate self almost feels sorry for Donald Trump; but my dominant sorrow is for the American people who deserve more. Grief for America is what I feel. And a strange sense of anticipation as though I am observing a dying person who feels no pain…and I watch, anticipating the end of a man who never seemed to realize that his humanity, in the end, puts him on a plain with others.
it is also the ubiquitous attire of the New York mob boss. Both in film and the real world!
Very helpful observation, Joe. Thanks.
Bob, thank you for your astute observation of President Trump’s attire and its symbolism. Before the 2016 Elections, Mr. Donald Trump looked and sounded very much like the “America I know.” He never shielded himself vocally or visually. He said and looked every part of a nation so arrogant it dares to say aloud, “We are the greatest country in the world.” In fact, the mantra is repeated so often that any variation would be dismissed as “misspeak.” I truly appreciate how you have peered closely into the black overcoat as a covering of something perhaps sinister. It is critically important for all of us in the United States to take a closer look at ourselves and how we self impose our “truth” around the world. The litany of shame, crime, and harm from this nation’s inception through this very hour is very long and should never be ignored. While every resident in the United States of America does not agree with the President and many would rather have a very different person sitting in that office, a recital of this nation’s history and conduct toward others may produce a very realistic and impression that signifies, verifies, and reflects why President Trump was triumphant in the last election and appears to move ahead with a clear purpose….no matter how misguided and painful the outcome. The long, black overcoat is more than a covering. It is the obvious attire of a leader who runs roughshod without conscience over the lives of others (people and the environment) with godless abandon.
Art: Thanks for the observation about the black coat as “the attire” of a man without conscience who runs roughshod. Seeing the tv coverage of some of his “rallies” angers me and turns my stomach. I just hope that the current court actions will catch up with him. How can the Republican leadership not see what he is doing to their party and to the American “way of life.”
The First Lady should suggest he get some new ideas from G.Q.
Can anyone pull their heads out of their *** long enough to contemplate the possibility that is a PROTECTIVE kevlar type material? This is a dangerous world folks. I certainly doubt vanity is the reason he wears a long heavy coat in summertime. Would you go out unprotected when you are a controversial target? Give him a break already!
Finally… some common sense. Thanks, Jay.
The coat reminds me of an image of Hitler more than anything. We always see the old pictures of Hitler in a long black coat as he also demanded respect where it wasn’t deserved.
You sir are an idiot. This is a nice business coat and does look like that of a leader.
You weak minded liberal who is toting the party propaganda line.
It’s insanity how you can project a coat
to mean he’s covering something up.
You are the reasons he will win again!
As a fat person, I can tell you guys that he thinks he looks slimmer in that long coat. Without it, he looks very awkward standing in one place wearing his corset and shoe lifts.