Jordan has a reputation for rarely wearing a suit jacket. A Twitter account is dedicated to his jacketlessness. He’s the man on the dais who refuses to show witnesses the same respect that they inevitably show to him and to the circumstances. Typically, men who are called to testify before Congress wear a suit. They recognize the seriousness of the situation, and they dignify it. Even Mark Zuckerberg, who almost single-handedly made hoodies and T-shirts the uniform of the modern mogul, wears a suit. When comedian Jon Stewart spoke to Congress in support of 9/11 first responders, he wore a suit jacket and tie. When comedian Hasan Minhaj went to Capitol Hill to discuss student loan debt, he also wore a suit.
The extras in the audience as the impeachment drama unfolded were wearing suit jackets. The witnesses were in suit jackets. George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state, wore a three-piece suit, no less. He paired it with a genial bow tie and an expression of bemused patience when questioning veered off road. His right eyebrow, with its rise and fall, was a soliloquy on professorial forbearance. Acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. was also duly attired in a suit, with a green four-in-hand — his brow furrowing with his efforts to sort the questions from the chaff.
But Jordan, in his role as a representative of the American people, couldn’t be bothered to suit up.
When Jordan was interviewed recently by a Wall Street Journal reporter about why he doesn’t wear a jacket, the congressman responded with a chuckle and then a statement that was the equivalent of a shrug, “I’m not even sure," he said. “I don’t know why.”
But, of course, that was disingenuous. After a pause, he admitted that he does wear a jacket when the rules require him to do so, as when he’s on the House floor. And he wears a jacket when he aims to be respectful, such as when he is in the company of the president or on a visit to the White House. Presumably, he doesn’t consider sitting alongside his colleagues during a matter of national importance to be a situation that deserves his high regard.
Jordan says he doesn’t wear a jacket when in committee, because “I get fed up at these witnesses who, I think, aren’t being square with me or my colleagues and, more important, the American people. I can’t really get fired up and get into it if you’ve got some jacket slowing you down.”
Perhaps Jordan worries all that mental jousting will cause him to overheat. If so, his wardrobe selection is a preemptive move. Jordan doesn’t wait to slip out of his jacket if he should find himself in a fierce back-and-forth with a recalcitrant witness. No, he arrives without the jacket, fully expecting a fight — champing at the bit for one. The former wrestling coach has defined himself as the guy who readily goes toe-to-toe. And his Republican colleagues assigned him to the House Intelligence Committee last week to go to the mat for President Trump.
Jordan, in his pale blue shirt and yellow tie, began his questioning Wednesday afternoon by rereading Taylor’s previous testimony, racing through his own statements that stood in for questions and interrupting the witness when he attempted to respond. Jordan stared at Taylor over his reading glasses. Jordan yelled at him and then nodded impatiently when Taylor managed to utter a few words. The congressman made references to “church prayer chains,” which served as a reminder that he is the sort of man for whom religiosity and righteousness are always front of mind. Jordan began at least one sentence with “No disrespect …” which always means that disrespect is forthcoming. It came in the form of a smirk. By then, Jordan’s first five minutes were up.
When he got into the ring for his second round, Jordan was speaking so fast that he was swallowing his words. It was an “invesgashun," not an investigation. “It didn’t happen! You had to be wrong,” he yelled at Taylor. It was a double accusation, not a statement of fact. It was a jab and then an uppercut. One could practically see the foamy sweat of pugilism dripping from Jordan’s brow. Taylor was resolutely nonplussed.
When his fellow Republicans put Jordan in for a third round, he skipped the questions altogether and just delivered a monologue on the injustice of the entire proceeding.
The congressman had come to pummel the witnesses, not to interrogate them. It doesn’t matter whether any of his punches landed or whether his opponent fought back. The man in the shirtsleeves was prepared to shadowbox to the death.
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