Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

October 27, 2013

George Weeks: Gov. Snyder on when not to knot

As Gov. Rick Snyder gears for a second term bid a year from now, there are many substantive issues to be examined — Right to Work, Detroit’s bankruptcy, funding for schools and roads, lack of transparency of his NERD office fund and other issues raised by Democratic State Chairman Lon Johnson and Mark Schauer, Snyder’s challenger-in-waiting.

Focus here today is on a non-substantive issue that has sparked renewed recent interest: why is Snyder about the only Michigan governor (other than Jennifer Granholm) to make periodic official public appearances without wearing a tie?

Turns out, Snyder has just publicly addressed the issue in a Kalamazoo speech.

I was prompted to examine the issue after seeing a two-page Oct. 19-20 Wall Street Journal spread headlined: “The Tie is Dead. …No longer a strict requirement for the power elite, the necktie has been fading from the corporate dress code. Can the new generation of menswear aficionados keep it safe from extinction.”

Under a “TO KNOT, OR NOT” headline, the paper ran a picture of President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and three other tie-less world leaders at June’s G-8 Summit in Northern Ireland, tie-less at the behest of Cameron. All had dark suits or sport coats, as does Snyder when tieless at public events.

Early in Obama’s presidency, Esquire magazine asked: “Obama Wears His Suit Without a Tie. Can You?”

In response to my subsequent inquiry last week, Dave Murray, Snyder’s deputy press secretary, said, “your timing is perfect. The governor told a Kalamazoo audience on Wednesday evening about his decision to not wear ties.

“Celebrating the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center’s 10th anniversary, the governor recalled a gathering of innovators and entrepreneurs years ago. He said he looked out into the crowd and saw a room full of men and just three women. All the men were dressed exactly the same, wearing suits and ties.

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