The Hill’s guide to last-minute political Halloween costumes

So look around your apartment and make do. You probably have an old wig in the closet, face paint in a box under the bed or a pair of suspenders that were once cool. Here are a few ideas for last-minute, politically themed costumes that should not only get you into your Halloween party but might even score you a few laughs. 

Costume: Al Franken or Rachel Maddow

Signature piece: thick-rimmed eyeglasses. Both the new Minnesota Democratic senator and the MSNBC political talk show host are easily recognized for their distinctive eyewear. These glasses, luckily, are also simple to copy. Even a pair of those cheap Groucho Marx frames (minus the eyebrows, nose and mustache) can do the trick.

The rest: Franken and Maddow seem to have similar taste in clothes, too. The reformed comedian now dresses the part of a senator, wearing mostly suits and ties. And Maddow often prefers blazers while on air, though she tends to go for an open collar or T-shirt underneath.

Bonus: Assuming you don’t have time to perm your hair, a curly or full-bodied men’s brown wig would nicely round out a Franken costume. Maddow’s hair is flatter, and she sometimes parts it on the right side.

Avoid confusion: Worried people won’t get it? For Franken, add a nametag that says, “Sen. Smalley” (Stuart Smalley was one of Franken’s famed “Saturday Night Live” characters). In Maddow’s case, attach a fake lapel-pin microphone (made from an old earbud headphone) to your jacket.


Costume: Town hall protester

Signature piece: A cardboard sign replicating one of the actual slogans used at the protests. Choose between “Keep the guvmint out of my medicare”, “Pre-existing condition: we need reform now!”, or one of the countless others.

This costume idea has great latitude because town hall protesters came in all shapes and forms this August. Many held protest placards; some yelled at their members of Congress; others marched on Washington.

The rest: Weather might dictate the town hall protester’s outfit. If Halloween night is pleasant, try cut-off jeans, an American flag T-shirt and flip-flops. Otherwise, a warm flannel shirt, overalls and work boots will be both functional and in character.

Bonus: Again, hair could enhance this costume. A wig of any kind would work, as would a bandana or headband. You could also hand out fliers to other partygoers.

Avoid confusion: Lest anyone think you a hippie upon first sight, refrain from wearing tie-dye and bellbottoms or holding your hand in a peace sign.


Costume: Appalachian hiker

Signature piece: An airline ticket to Buenos Aires.

In the four months since South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) admitted to having an affair with an Argentine woman, the phrase “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” has already become a cliché. (Sanford originally said he was hiking the trail during a June trip when he was actually visiting his lover in Buenos Aires.)

The rest: A lot of the town hall protester’s costume pieces could also work here: rugged outerwear such as jeans and a flannel shirt, hiking boots, a backpack and a walking stick. A wide-brimmed hat and water bottle would be nice accessories.

Bonus: Bring along poetic love letters — written in the same style Sanford used in his many missives with his paramour — and show them to anyone who expresses faint interest.

Avoid confusion: In case other Halloween revelers can’t distinguish you from Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) or any of the other politician-philanderers, set up a mock press conference at which you speak about college adventure trips, apologize to Tom Davis and the people of South Carolina, and make references to God’s law.