Sen. John Fetterman spent a few weeks this fall as the focal point of a controversy over whether or not the U.S. Senate would jettison its former dress code.
After Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer announced he was getting rid of the old code — thought to accommodate Fetterman and his usual uniform of shorts and hoodies — but a backlash ensued, leading the Senate to formalize its dress code.
This week, Fetterman appeared on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” to talk about the dress code dispute, his other recent struggles, and much more. And when he showed up on the show, the senator was wearing his usual shorts and hoodie.
“Have any of you heard of a story about the dress code?,” Fetterman joked during the appearance. “I never asked for it.. and when I knew that this was going to be announced, I was like, oh boy, here it comes.” He pointed at several things, from Ukraine to a possible government shutdown, that are much more important than “What will this man wear on the floor of the Senate?”
Colbert then presented the senator with a tuxedo t-shirt.
There was never much indication that Fetterman felt all that strongly about the dress code, nor did he make much of a public stink when the Senate reversed itself on the matter.
Colbert’s show, like all of the other late-night talk shows, returned to the air earlier this month following the end of the Writers Guild of America strike. But because of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, most actors can’t promote their projects on talk shows, leading them to book nontraditional guests like U.S. senators.
Colbert asked Fetterman about both his 2022 stroke and his treatment earlier this year for clinical depression.
While he used a captioning monitor during the interview, which he has sometimes done since suffering the stroke, Fetterman sounded much more like his normal self than he did during the general election campaign in 2022.
In talking about what’s been happening in the House, Fetterman said in the interview that America isn’t sending its “best and brightest” to Washington, which would normally not be such a controversial statement, especially considering the chaos in the House speaker race. But Fox News stated that Fetterman had been “roasted” for saying such a thing.
The senator had directly ripped Fox News in the Colbert appearance, stating that “you have some very less-gifted kinds of people there who are willing to shut down the government just to score points on Fox.”
“The better I get, the [sadder] Fox News becomes,” Fetterman said. “Every word I miss was like candy for Fox News.” He also addressed the conspiracy theories that Fetterman has a body double.
He also talked about mental health.
“If you are suffering from depression, please get help,” Fetterman said of his struggles.
Also this week, following the second indictment against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) — this time for acting as a foreign agent — Fetterman called on the Senate to expel the veteran senator, The Hill reported.
“Senator Menendez should not be a U.S. Senator. He should have been gone long ago. It is time for every one of my colleagues in the Senate to join me in expelling Senator Menendez,” Fetterman said in a statement Friday.
Fetterman had been the first sitting senator to call for Menendez to resign, following the first indictment, and he was soon followed by several other Democrats. Republicans, however, have taken more of a wait-and-see approach about Menendez.
Menendez, whose previous corruption case resulted in a mistrial, has refused to step down and is still planning to run for another term in 2024.
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Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.