Fresh off the embarrassment of his latest committee questioning debacle, Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) has once again proven he is a fish out of water in the U.S. Senate.
As we previously reported, Jeff Stein, a so-called “journalist” from The Washington Post, got called out on Twitter for posting a significantly altered quote by Fetternman in an apparent attempt to give the impression that Fetterman was articulate and speaking coherently while questioning a witness in a Senate Banking Committee hearing. After being mocked for the deception, Stein deleted the tweet and claimed he had obtained the quote directly from Fetterman’s office, though his explanation is, to say the least, questionable.
Regardless of whether Stein whipped up the bogus quote, or whether it was Fetterman’s office, it’s clear that there is a concerted effort to pretend that Fetterman is mentally well. It doesn’t even matter so much who’s responsible; the point is that there’s a strategy in place to essentially ignore Fetterman’s cognitive impairment. The Stein situation brought this to light, and it’s embarrassing to the senator, his office, and frankly, the voters of Pennsylvania, who were promised that Fetterman was physically and mentally fit to serve when he clearly was not.
While Fetterman can’t do much about his mental health since his cognitive impairment is the result of a stroke he had a year ago, he can do something about his unbecoming appearance. Barely a day after the Stein quote controversy, Fetterman appeared alongside Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) regarding the debt ceiling negotiations. And yes, Fetterman had to read from a script, and yes, he did so rather poorly, but what really stuck out from the event was how Fetterman appeared when he spoke at the podium. There he was, head down as he attempted to read his prepared remarks, wearing a sweatshirt and shorts, flanked by Markey and Welch, who were wearing suits.
John Fetterman speaks at a press conference on the debt ceiling negotiations. pic.twitter.com/yiXDkFQtMY
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 18, 2023
Following his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in late March, where he received inpatient treatment for clinical depression, there are still lingering doubts regarding whether Fetterman has genuinely acclimated to his role as a senator — which is increasingly difficult to believe when he continues to appear at public events dressed in a manner that does not command the respect befitting his title. Even during his “triumphant” return to the Senate, we saw him dressed in a hoodie and shorts.
Yeah, sure the New York Times called him a fashion icon for his grubby style, but that was during the campaign. It was far easier to spin his wardrobe choices as an effort to relate to the common folk on the campaign trail, but in the Senate, we expect some propriety. It’s certainly conceivable that Fetterman is being pushed to give the appearance of fulfilling his duties and feign normalcy — despite overwhelming evidence indicating otherwise — but if this guy can’t even put on a suit for a press conference when his fellow senators are dressed as we’d expect them to be, it tells me his heart isn’t in it anymore. Maybe it never was.
It becomes challenging to have complete confidence in his mental stability if he does not make an effort to project a more polished image. It is reasonable to assume that they would have several suits on hand for him when he speaks to the media or makes a public appearance. It becomes impossible to have complete confidence in his mental stability if he does not make an effort to project a more polished image.