Opinion | Bo Hines’s Banana Republic gaffe should start a new GOP fashion line

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Opinion | Bo Hines’s Banana Republic gaffe should start a new GOP fashion line
Opinion | Bo Hines’s Banana Republic gaffe should start a new GOP fashion line


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Retail politics ain’t what it used to be.

Trump-endorsed congressional candidate Bo Hines, the Republican nominee from North Carolina’s 13th District, weighed in recently on all the talk about the United States becoming a banana republic, one of those nominal democracies where the rule of law is shaky. But Hines, a former college football player, spoke as if everybody was referring to Banana Republic, the clothing retailer.

“A lot of people have likened the situation going on right now, is, you know, they say we’re in a Banana Republic,” he told radio host John Fredericks. “I think that’s an insult to Banana Republics across the country. I mean, at least the manager of Banana Republic, unlike our president, knows where he is and why he’s there and what he’s doing.”

Hines’s campaign retroactively labeled this “a joke.” Ha! I nearly split my pleated chinos.

Sorry, but that excuse is a total Lululemon. Misunderstanding a universal idiom, particularly while maligning President Biden’s mental acuity, suggests Hines is just not very PetSmart. On an intelligence scale of 1 to 10, he’s Five Below.

But this is the season for retail gaffes. The campaign of Mehmet Oz, Republican nominee for Senate from Pennsylvania, made a video of the candidate shopping at a Redner’s supermarket, which Oz misidentified as “Wegner’s,” apparently confusing it with Wegmans. He filled his arms with broccoli, asparagus, carrots, guacamole and salsa — supermarkets have carts, Dr. Oz — then, blaming Biden for high prices, complained: “That’s $20 for the crudités and this doesn’t include the tequila.”

Dana Milbank: The GOP is sick. It didn’t start with Trump — and won’t end with him.

Only a man who owns 10 houses (while claiming two) would refer to a veggie plate as “crudités.” And salsa for a veggie dip? Call the Gazpacho Police!

In fairness, there has been a bipartisan smorgasbord of grocery gaffes over the years: George H.W. Bush’s magical encounter with a supermarket scanner, Dan Quayle’s defeat by a potato, John Kerry asking for Swiss on his Philly cheesesteak, Barack Obama kvetching about the price of arugula at Whole Foods, Mitt Romney ordering a sub in hoagie country, Gerald Ford eating a tamale with the husk on, and Sargent Shriver ordering a Courvoisier at a steelworker bar.

But, as is their wont, the MAGA Republicans turned up the gaffe volume to 11, ranging from smart people who say dumb things (as when Fox News’s Sean Hannity, in a segment mocking Biden’s cognitive functioning, introduced Kellyanne Conway as “Kellyanne Trump”), to, well, other people who say dumb things (as when now-Sen. Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, claimed that the “three branches of government” are “the House, the Senate and the executive”).

Leading this confederacy of dunces is Herschel Walker, GOP Senate nominee from Georgia. He took the position that there are 52 states and asserted that the theory of evolution is wrong because, “If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”

Then think about Walker’s thoughts on the futility of fighting air pollution: “Since we don’t control the air, our good air decides to float over to China’s bad air. So, when China gets our good air, their bad air … moves over to our good air space.”

Cleanup in the crudité aisle!

George T. Conway III: Trump didn’t take the cookies. Nope. Never. Why ask?

Still, young Bo Hines may have been onto something when he compared our current politics to a Banana Republic store.

The retailer is all about encouraging sedentary Americans to pretend they are 19th century explorers in safari tents or sailing ships, wearing “pieces inspired by our history, a story of daring vision and imagined journeys.” Its clothes “wink at our heritage.”

Perhaps Banana Republic could offer some new styles that wink at the imagined journeys on which the MAGA Republicans propose to take America:

  • The White-Nationalist Linen Line. Yearn for the days when White men alone ruled America? Then put your wardrobe through a Great Replacement and return to the hoop skirts, bodices and tail coats of yore.
  • Stasi Style. As you report to the state on the activities of teachers, journalists and those who seek abortions, show your fashion sense by wearing the jackboots, baggy trousers and belted military jackets popularized by the East German secret police.
  • The Dezinformatsiya Line. Russian state television reports that it is “worried for our agent Trump.” Share the worry, visually, with a clothing line inspired by classic Cossack hats and babushka headscarves.
  • The Giuliani Collection. As Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani becomes a target of a criminal investigation, his chief financial officer prepares for a guilty plea and top-secret government files are found in Trump’s home, wear the crisp pinstripes and bold orange jumpsuits that define prison chic.

For Republicans, this new fashion branding would be on Target. In fact, it’s deeply rooted in the Anthropologie of a MAGA crowd gone bananas.


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