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Bernie’s mittens heat up internet

Toasty Senator Bernie Sanders waits for Joe Biden to be sworn in. Picture: Washington Post/Jonathan Newton

Toasty Senator Bernie Sanders waits for Joe Biden to be sworn in. Picture: Washington Post/Jonathan Newton

Published Jan 23, 2021

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Timothy Bella

INDEPENDENT Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont – and his mittens – were here. They were there. They were everywhere.

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The senator who was a late invite to The Last Supper, crossed the Delaware River with George Washington and counselled Han Solo and Chewbacca on the Millennium Falcon.

That was before he had lunch with the Mean Girls and served detention with The Breakfast Club.

Or maybe he was bowling with the Dude or recalling the story all about how his life got flipped and turned upside down when he became the prince of a town called Bel-Air.

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As the instantly iconic photo went viral of Sanders looking cosy in a thick coat and mittens at President Biden's inauguration on Wednesday, fans rushed to Photoshop the bundled-up senator in memes crossing historical, cultural and artistic moments.

With his arms and legs crossed as he sat alone and socially distanced on the steps of the Capitol, Sanders became one of the most memorable images of Biden's inauguration. When asked by Gayle King of CBS News about the viral reaction to his attire, Sanders said he did what he could to stay warm.

"In Vermont, we know something about the cold. And we're not so concerned about good fashion. We want to keep warm. That's what I did today," he said.

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The image, which was taken by Brendan Smialowski of Agence France-Presse, kept Sanders as the No 1 trending topic on Twitter into early yesterday.

On a day in which a severely divided nation welcomed a new president who will inherit a pandemic and a teetering economy, popping a cut-out of Sanders into ridiculous photos provided a rare laugh nearly everyone could agree on.

History buffs had no trouble finding critical moments in world history for the parka-wearing Vermonter to visit. At the Gettysburg Address, Sanders appeared on the stage, listening intently to what President Abraham Lincoln had to say.

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What if he were to toss in his two cents at the 1945 meeting in Yalta with President Franklin D Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin? Turns out, it looked pretty natural. The same couldn't be said of him sitting in the ring as Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in 1965. Or when Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969.

The art world envisioned how some of the most timeless paintings and photographs would look like if they included a 79-year-old senator sitting in wintry Washington weather.

In one person's imagining of "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States," Sanders could not be bothered to pay attention to what Washington was saying to the delegates at the Constitutional Convention inside Independence Hall. After that, he found himself craving a late-night bite and some coffee, gazing out at the dark night from the downtown diner in the 1942 painting Nighthawks.

For "Lunch atop a Skyscraper," the masked Brooklyn native would have had a hard time eating lunch on a girder with his fellow iron-workers, a black-and-white image shot 256 metres in the air.

Perhaps the most popular Sanders memes, however, involved people guessing what the new chairman of the Senate Budget Committee would look like in their favourite movies and TV shows.

Instead of guests being terrorised by the Grady twins in The Shining, there were now two identical senators haunting the end of the hallway. Sanders was catching up with Carrie Bradshaw and the gang in one moment and reuniting with Jon Snow and House Stark in the next.

When he wasn't sitting on the big, red chair from Blue's Clues or trying his best not to talk to Forrest Gump, one Twitter account thought about the socially-distant Sanders as the fifth member of The Golden Girls.

Washington Post

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