FUNNY BUSINESS: This election goes beyond just boxers or briefs

Mike Redmond
September 15, 2008
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Now that those Laff Riot nominating conventions are over, the major political parties can get down to the serious work of promising to change things by campaigning pretty much the way they always have.

Wait. I take that back. I have seen something different about this year's presidential election campaign, and I don't mean the obvious stuff, like John McCain and Joe Biden being (and I can't believe no one has pointed this out) white guys.

This is the first year I can recall in which the elections involved underwear.

Well, underwear worn by someone other than one of the nominees, anyway. I'm sure we all remember when candidate Bill Clinton was asked whether he wore boxers or briefs. As it turns out, quite a few people had firsthand knowledge, but that's been joked to death, so let's just turn our attention to the culottes du jour:

Obama Undies and Palin Panties.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the age of political underpants. One person, one vote, choice of colors.

The Obama Undies are of the boy-leg boxer-brief variety (as a former boy, I don't remember this style ever showing up among MY Fruit of the Looms), with Barack Obama's picture on one leg and "08" plastered on the sitting side.

Here's how they're described by the manufacturer, Andrew Christian:

"Low-cut boxer constructed of 100% cotton baby rib with stylized image ... with super soft logo elastic. This style is comfortable enough for everyday use."

There you go. Barack Obama, wrapping up the cotton-baby-rib-and-supersoft-logo-elastic votes.

Now, these aren't the only Barack Obama Underoos on the market. Heck, no. I've also seen a line of panties (as opposed to panty lines) in the thong variety, with Obama's image printed on them. I guess Granny Panties would be too Adlai Stevenson.

I know what you're thinking: "The Democrats are getting all the good underwear." Oh, please. Do you think the Republicans are going to let this kind of opportunity slip through their fingers? Or should we say lose the snap in its elastic and fall down around their feet?

They have Palin Panties, another example of the politicized thong, with pictures of Sarah Palin emblazoned on the front side, there being no back side. Woo-hoo! Just the thing to wear next time you go moose hunting.

Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that wearing Political Candidate Underwear is a little like putting a bumper sticker in your glove compartment. You'll know it's there, but nobody else will. Unless, of course, you are one of those glove-compartment exhibitionists.

I'm also wondering about some Highly Republican boxer shorts I saw bearing the legend, "My wife is ALWAYS proud of America." I thought this one might not be such a hot idea. This whole wife-proudboxer shorts thing is a little tricky. There are Web sites where you can order shorts indicating pride in something else. I'm not sure that's a good model for a political statement.

I also saw some boxers with a picture of a small donkey and the words, "I am a Proud Ass Democrat." It was printed on the front. Isn't that the wrong side?

Actually, this whole thing strikes me as wrong. I mean, all these people are trying to convince us to let them run the government, right? Well, talk about getting the government out of our bedrooms. The last place I want the government is in my underwear vicinity.

Look, I'm an old dude. My collection of campaign memorabilia includes fuddyduddy stuff like pin back buttons (including a Reagan-Lugar button I scored while covering the 1980 GOP convention) and what may be the finest collection of G. Mennen "Soapy" Williams green-withwhite-polka-dots bow tie pins this side of the Michigan state line. Ol' Soapy, in case you wondered, was governor of Michigan back in the Jurassic era.

Now, you'll notice this discussion has not really said much about the aforementioned senators McCain and Biden. I haven't found any McCain or Biden underwear. In Biden's case, I just don't think his personality is the type that makes people say, "I know! Let's put his picture on a pair of underpants!"

And with McCain ... well, let's face it. He's old. If elected, he'd be the oldest man ever to serve as president, and that kind of person does not belong on underpants.

I could be wrong, though. I guess it Depends.

Redmond is an author, columnist and speaker, and a consultant on business writing and workplace issues. His column appears monthly. You can reach him at mredmond@ibj.com.

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