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Powder Blue Ties Play It Politically Safe

So why did so many of the male politicians sitting around the health care summit table wear powder blue ties?

President Obama, Vice President Biden and Rep. Boehner — the display of powder blue was bipartisan. Wolf Blitzer even wore a powder blue tie to analyze what the men in powder blue ties had just said.

We get occasional e-mails from listeners who ask, "Why do you always say what Secretary of State Clinton or Gov. Palin wore, but never the male politicians?" We're going to make up for that this week.

Was it mere coincidence that made so many male politicians, who differ so much on policy, don ties of the same color?

I doubt that any politician preparing for eight hours of television would choose a tie casually. Most of the men at that table wouldn't go into a sauna without conspicuously sticking an American flag pin in the lapel of their towel, so I assume there's a strategy here. President Bush also favored powder blue ties.

Bob Prenner, who owns the venerable Ben Silver clothing shop in Charleston, S.C., says that powder blue is politically unassailable. Red can suggest tempestuousness — or the Canadian Olympic hockey team. Navy blue can be drab. Yellow is yesterday. Purple is a little too tomorrow. Politicians save green ties for St. Patrick's Day parades.

Mr. Prenner says powder blue ties convey sincerity, and complement a whole rainbow coalition of suit colors, from gray to blue to brown.

Rick Parker, a sales associate at Paul Stuart's in Chicago, says at their shop they call this blue "cerulean. It is the color of the sky breaking out from the clouds after a nasty storm, which invokes in us a sense of hope and calm," he says.

By the way, customer confidentiality prevents both Mr. Prenner and Mr. Parker from confirming how many ties worn at that summit table came from their shops.

There's something to be said for uniforms. Franciscan monks and the Marine Corps have great ones. And when everyone from Oprah to Ozzy Osbourne puts on something pink, you know it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

But I'd be depressed if male politicians string powder blue ties around their necks just because they've been told that they're politically safe, like campaigning for ethanol subsidies in Iowa.

Diversity shouldn't be defined just by a man or woman's ethnicity, but the diversity of their ideas and interests. Politicians shouldn't cringe from revealing a little personality.

By the way, Secretary Sebelius wore sage green at the health care conference. Speaker Pelosi was in dark magenta. They looked fabulous!

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Simon SaysSimon Says NPR's Scott Simon Shares His Take On Events Large And Small
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