SCOTT SIMON, host:
So why did so many of the male politicians sitting around the health care summit table wear powder blue ties? President Obama and Vice President Biden and Representative 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.
Now, we get occasional emails from listeners who ask, why do you always say what Secretary of State Clinton or Governor Palin wore but never the male politicians? Going to I 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 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, says that powder blue is politically unassailable. Red can suggest tempestuousness, or the Canadian Olympic hockey team, navy blue can be drab, yellow was yesterday, purple a little too tomorrow. Politicians save green ties for St. Patrick's Day parades.
Bob Prenner says powder blue ties convey sincerity and complement the whole rainbow coalition of suit colors from gray to blue to brown.
Rick Parker, a sales associate at Paul Stuart's in Chicago, says that 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.
By the way, Haberdasher customer confidentiality prevents both Mr. Prenner and Mr. Parker from confirming how many ties worn at that summit table came from their shops.
Now, there's something to be said about uniforms. Franciscan monks and the Marine Corps have great ones? And when everyone, from Oprah to Ozzy Osborne, 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 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.
(Soundbite of song, "Dedicated Follower of Fashion")
Mr. ROLF HARRIS (Musician): (Singing) They seek him here, they seek him there. His clothes are loud, but never square. Itll make or break him so he's got to buy the best, 'cause he's a dedicated follower of fashion. And when he does, his little rounds, round the boutiques, of London Town.
SIMON: Rolf Harris and you're listening to NPR News.