When we first met Mike Pence, he was the God-fearing, jacket-buttoning Governor of Indiana who had just won the Miss Vice Presidential contest. Donald J. Trump chose Pence from “central casting,” he kept repeating, meaning that Pence looked like the movie version of a vice president—clean-cut, straight edge, decorative. In other words, Trump's antithesis. When the two went public, there was a mismatched Odd Couple quality to their relationship.
Their look was classic Felix Unger and Oscar Madison: the tight-ass and the slob. The contrast was on display at the Republican National Convention, where Pence and Trump's families went on an outing (below). Note that while Donald Sr. and Jr. are both rocking the flapping lapel, Pence keeps it high and tight. But that didn't last. Spend a year in the Donald's company and you too will eventually come undone.
Compare that image from July 20, 2016 photo with one taken a year later. Something seismic has occurred. Pence, like Trump, is now unkempt. It’s Oscar Madison and Oscar Madison, master and apprentice, slob senior and slob junior. They wear the same boxy suit, unbuttoned, of course, to show off that broad blue tie just hovering above the waistline—lower, in Trump's case.
When did this happen? When did Pence start dressing like his sloppy boss, and why? We have a few theories.
Theory #1: The Twinkies Defense
Like women on their periods, once Pence and Trump started spending time with each other, they unconsciously synced up. Couples who live together will also often start to look alike. And, pets and their owners, which might be more applicable here. For some, that resemblance takes time. Others hurry it along, like the husband-wife baseball fans who wear the same hokey shirts in the stands. There’s a name for people who do this: “Twinkies.” Pence and Trump might be proud Twinkies. Couples goal achieved!
Theory #2: Mirroring
Trump doesn’t like real mirrors because they refuse to flatter him. Still, he loves when people mirror back to him the image that he wishes to project. This sociological practice has a name: “mirroring” or “twinning,” and it occurs mainly in insecure teenage girls not 70-year old presidents of the United States. In this photo, Trump and Pence look like slobs as they walk the halls of the White House. This look seems better suited to examining a truck, like below.
Theory #3: Pence is the World’s Biggest Suck Up
Although it goes against every fiber of his born again, evangelical Catholic soul, Pence lets it all hang out to play to Trump’s ego.
Pence (flapping lapels): Hey, look I can flap my lapels to create a breeze! You were right. This is so much better. I was too stiff before.
Trump: Appreciate the congrats.
Pence: I love my new rebel look. Mother has always insisted that I button my jacket—both my real mother who gave birth to me and my second mother who I have sex with.
Trump: Hey, that’s something else we have in common. I want to have sex with my daughter.
Pence laughs an uneasy laugh as Trump turns and stares out the window.
Theory #4: Trump Ordered Pence to Stop Making Him Look Bad
Perhaps President Trump called Pence into his office and laid it all out for him.
Trump: Here’s the deal, Mikey. I don’t wanna button my jacket. I mean I could if I wanted to. It’s not that my stomach is so large that the button won’t hold. Believe me. In fact, it’s interesting but I’ve actually lost weight since becoming president. I can eat ice cream and steak every day and not gain a pound. My doctors say it’s remarkable. Anyway, from now on, you’re gonna stop buttoning your jacket. If I’m unhinged, I want you to be unhinged, too.
Pence: Yes, master.
Theory #5: Pence is Playing the Long Game
The Army Guide specifically states, "Soldiers will keep uniforms buttoned, zipped, and snapped,” but it seems this Commander-in-Chief took that rule loosely. Taken last week, this photo captures Trump and Pence at the Pentagon where they couldn’t be bothered to look crisp for members of the military. Even more troubling is Pence has raised imitating Trump to a new level. Note the leaden feet, the gorilla arms, the thrusted jaw, the jutted butt. Trump comes by his brutishness naturally, but Pence has picked up the body language in just six months. This matchy-matchy look is no accident. They say dress for the job you want…and Pence wants Trump’s.