Sunday, January 27, 2008

Postscript on Dennis McDonald and that hat

Despite all of the astute reporting and commentary in the GOP Winter Kickoff post yesterday, what prompted a little discussion in the comments was the subject of Dem Chairman Dennis McDonald wearing a big white cowboy hat in Q2's television studio.

A discussion on hat etiquette ensued, culminating in a recollection of Houston Oiler coach Bum Phillips refusing to wear his hat in the Astrodome because you don't wear a hat indoors. We recalled Bear Bryant saying something similar about his not wearing his own signature hat in the Astrodome.

Having spent time in oil and livestock country from Montana to Texas, we are well aware that there are regional differences on cowboy hat etiquette, as well as generational differences.

But we got curious, and found this interesting post in which two mavens of etiquette -- Miss Manners and Amy Vanderbilt -- weigh in on the subject. While we lean toward the Vanderbilt simplicity (men take their hats off indoors, period,) Miss Manners gave a more extended and subtle answer -- one that perhaps Mr. McDonald would do well to take under consideration.

"Dear Miss Manners:

A certain lumpish fellow of my acquaintance contends that it is not a breach of etiquette for a man to wear a cowboy hat indoors. He states that cowboy hats are unique in this regard. My mother was always a proponent of the Mrs. Paul W. Bryant, Sr. school of thought on this subject. (You may recall that when Bear Bryant was asked why he didn't wear his trademark hat in the Astrodome, he replied that it was because his mother taught him that a gentleman doesn't wear a hat indoors.) To your knowledge has there been a special papal dispensation or whatever the equivalent is in the world of etiquette for cowboy hats?"

Miss Manners replied: "Mrs. Bryant's rule certainly applies to cowboys who wish to behave as gentlemen and, Miss Manners would like to add, to gentlemen who wish to disguise themselves as cowboys, a proliferating breed.

For example, a person wearing a cowboy hat, along with a gray suit and lizard boots, in a city office building elevator, is not excused from removing the hat- no, not even if he is wearing a complete cowboy suit, with fringed jacket, jeans, and spurs that he got for Christmas.

However, a genuine cowboy, wearing cowboy clothes and going about his cowboy business, does wear his hat everywhere. In other words, it is not the hat but the head that defines the man, oddly enough." (Emphasis added.)

And that last bit, folks, is bad news for trial lawyers playing rancher.


Anonymous said...

wow...the MT GOP attacks the Governor because he wears jeans, and now they attack McDonald because he wears a hat indoors. they sure know how to play hardball.

Montana Headlines said...

Attack? Someone around here doesn't have a sense of humor. Poking fun at trial lawyers is just part of being a Republican. McDonald and his big hat and referring to himself as "this old cowboy" just makes it too easy to resist.

McDonald knows all about real attacks -- falsely accusing a Roy Brown of being a tax cheat and falsely accusing Randy Vogel of being investigated for wrongdoing, and implying that it had to do with the Abramoff scandals.

This was character assasination, and he refused to apologize for it in spite of being directly confronted by Erik Iverson about the falseness of his statements.

You'll have to do better than that. Try again.

Anonymous said...

The stories that were written a few weeks back talked about the fact that one of Brown’s donors was William Fulton, connected to Fulton Fuel – a company that went 20 years without paying taxes to the state of Montana. The GOP and Brown responded by saying that the wrong Fulton had been accused…and that the Brown donor was Fulton the 3rd, who they claim had nothing to do with the tax problems at Fulton Fuel. But in fact, Fulton the 3rd was the Secretary, Treasurer, and on the Board of Directors for Fulton Fuel during the years of 1985-1995…years in which the company was not paying taxes. Is Montana Headlines seriously saying that a Secretary, Treasurer, and Company Board Member had no knowledge or the slightest involvement with his company’s tax liability?

Montana Headlines said...

I don't know anything about the details of the tax affairs.

There is a big difference between being a tax cheat and having a dispute over whether taxes are owed and how much.

I've not seen anything in the news media that would substantiate McDonald's assertion that the gentleman involved was a tax cheat.

Given that this administration calls anyone who it thinks should pay more taxes "tax cheats," I take that label with a grain of salt. There were people who are perfectly within the law by not paying this or that tax, and the administration tried to change laws in the last session to go after them as "tax cheats." If they were tax cheats, they wouldn't need to change the law, would they?

So, let's see the evidence that Fulton was involved in intentionally cheating on taxes. Was he ever fined? Was he ever cited or convicted of anything? If not, then it is wrong to label him a "tax cheat," even if he was involved in the business when what was later determined to be a tax liability occurred.

Of course, the governor has the entire Department of Revenue at his disposal in these affairs -- and a huge number of whom owe their brand-new jobs as tax-collectors to him. So I should probably watch what I say.

Making a point out of this will have the effect of discouraging anyone who has had a dispute with the DOR from contributing to Republicans -- after all, your reward will be to be in all of the papers as a tax cheat. The message is clear.