Seven years to the month since President Obama wore a tan suit during a White House press briefing—a non-scandal of such magnitude that it garnered its own Wikipedia page—President Biden orchestrated a beige moment of his own, opting to wear a similar fit during a briefing this morning. (Coincidentally or not, the day after Obama’s birthday). Like clockwork, Twitter pounced.
While Obama opted for a tonal moment back in 2014, pairing his tan suit with a taupe striped tie, Biden added a bit of color with an emerald leaf-printed tie that gives off an unfortunate—but also Deeply Biden™—St. Patrick’s Day vibe.
Go back a lifetime ago to August 28, 2014. Obama was speaking on increasing the U.S. military response to Islamic State presence in Syria, though you’d hardly remember that in the shadow of Tan Suit Gate. At the time, commentators deemed Obama’s taupe-colored suit—though similar suits had been worn in the past by Presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush—as tacky at least, un-presidential at worst. Then-Representative Pete King of New York famously slammed the outfit choice, saying it showed a “lack of seriousness,” before bafflingly adding “there’s no way I don’t think any of us can excuse what the president did yesterday”—once again, regarding the suit.
If we’ve gleaned anything since then, it’s that not even presidents are above viral meme potential—indeed, virality has become a fundamental tool in the politician’s toolkit. And while this publication’s stance has long been“ we can’t let this terrible khaki suit fly,” I would like to offer a new take: even a bad tan suit is now fine. It’s entirely seasonally appropriate, it’s a nice departure from the navy doldrums, and it’s apparently a surefire way to get the public to pay attention to a presidential news conference. In the year 2021, the presidential tan suit has become a tool in itself. It makes sense that Team Biden would want as many eyes as possible on a job-well-done briefing about the 943,000 new jobs that the U.S. added in July. And thus, we get The Man in the Tan Summer Suit: The Sequel. Nothing, not even beige, is unintentional.