Voters face a stark choice next week, or so we've been told over and over. But in at least one realm, we the people face almost no choice at all -- fashion. If you believe clothes are the measure of the man, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are closing in on one and the same.
In the era of "gotcha" memes and gaffe patrols, it's pretty clear that these guys' handlers have decided to keep the sartorial choices as bland as possible. That fits right in with radically narrow dress code that already prevails inside the Beltway: dark suit, boring tie (red, blue or bipartisan blah), white shirt (or, heavens to Betsy, blue!) and always, always that little flag lapel pin. On the campaign trail, add khakis and the no-jacket look: rolled-up shirtsleeves, open collar, sometimes a faint check, the very very occasional plaid. You'd think paisley ties and real jeans were un-American.
Of course, there are plenty of cautionary tales when it comes to looking presidential: Remember Michael Dukakis riding in a tank with a helmet on his head and a goofy smile on his face? Or George W. "Mission Accomplished" Bush in full fighter-pilot regalia? And Al Gore's earth-tone sweaters? Oh so wrong, as it turned out.