Right on “Yes We Tan” – why it’s so refreshing to see President Obama in a summer suit, at the end of the summer

Aug 31st, 2014 | By | Category: In Brief

We’ve admired Lauren O’Neil ever since we bumped into her student think-piece on Harold Innis and the Owl of Minerva. (See “Minerva’s owl spreads its wings on Stephen Harper’s last gasp of the British monarchy in Canada,” February 18, 2011.)

More recently Ms  O’Neil has happily found a berth on the CBC News website. And we want to offer particular congratulations on her August 29, 2014 Community blog, “Barack Obama’s tan suit sends tweeters into a tizzy … YES WE TAN!”

Our first instinct is to add that we find almost beyond belief the critical “online reaction” to President Obama’s quite classy tan summer suit with nicely matching brown tie. And we think that, to take just one among many reported examples, Andrew Kaczynski @ BuzzFeed is just totally overboard when he says : “Really not liking this Obama tan suit. Sends the wrong signals to our allies.” (????????)

Our second instinct is to remember that, as we counterweights editors watched the press conference at which the alleged offence took place on Big Screen TV (in our spacious office communications centre), at least one of us also raised the question of the tan suit.

So it may be a bit different than US presidents usually wear at press conferences. (Though has anyone looked seriously at old clips of George W. Bush recently, through the lens of such high dress-code standards? And then look at the tan-suit photos that have already been instantly dug up of George W.’s father – and even the allegedly sainted Ronald Reagan.)

Yet even if “YES WE TAN!” really is different from what presidents usually wear –  even at the end of the summer, when most of Democracy in America is trying to squeeze the last drop  from the fading holiday season – then that is finally just another thing we like about Barack Obama’s refreshing and forward-looking US Presidency. (Up here, as we are, in the true north, strong and free today. Where sons and daughters command together, as equals, and all that.)

* * * *

Those who worry about signals to allies should also note two things.

First, on foreign policy, say what you like. When the chips are down, President Obama’s foreign policy  actually works – in enough ways to matter. It may not dazzle those who want to be dazzled. But “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff” probably is what manifest destiny requires for the free world’s leading nation at this point in world history.

Second, it was good news to hear that “Canadian economy expands at 3.1% pace in 2nd quarter.” But it was also interesting that : “In the United States, annualized GDP grew by 4.2 per cent in the second quarter …”. US financial markets are still doing well.  Places like Silicon Valley continue to thrive.

At the same time, as everyone knows there is much that still needs to be done, and still needs to happen. Yet (and for whatever ultimate reasons) under Barack Obama’s stewardship of the White House the American economy has actually improved – albeit nowhere near as much as we want it to. (Even up here in Anglo Central Canada, aka Ontario, where so much of our regional economy is so intimately linked with the adjacent States of the Union).

Anyway, the main point is just that we thought President Obama looked cool in the tan suit. (And some of us have just seen some of the relevant press-conference-or-whatever-it-was footage again, moments ago. And say what you like. The president does look cool.)  And this kind of cool always gets respect from allies. (As citizens of America’s first ally, next door, we know about these things.)

And, like so much else about Obama (again say whatever else you like too), it is kind of refreshing. He’s wearing a summer suit. At the end of the summer. It’s a smart-looking suit and he wears it smartly. Like a guy who’s always thinking, and always knows what he’s doing. Like the careful guide through some especially treacherous shoals and swamps in American foreign and domestic policy 2008—2016 that he is, always trying to at least not do stupid stuff. (And actually succeeding a surprising amount of the time! Unlike his predecessors, who ought to be secret admirers, as well as outraged ideologues. Now, if only not all that many more American people felt this way … America really could get moving again … )

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  1. I just found this post whilst vanity-Googling my own name. Thank you so much for the kind words 🙂 Still at CBC News and loving it 🙂

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