The announcement by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday that he would not seek the presidency in 2016 has been met with relief — the uncertainty is over; with a certain outpouring of affection, as well as with disappointment, among those who hoped he would run; and with the usual analysis of the reasons behind the decision. But the visual of Mr. Biden standing behind a lectern in the White House Rose Garden with his wife, Jill, and President Obama at his side also caused a few double takes, and not because the president seemed to have his vice president’s back with the announcement.
The two were wearing almost exactly the same thing: navy suit, white shirt, little flag pin, blue and white diagonally striped tie. The word “twinsies” was hard to ignore, even as one might be trying to concentrate more on the high-minded speechifying.
The choice of attire was seen, at least on social media, both as visual proof that Mr. Biden was, indeed, the bearer of the Obama administration flag, and that the two men had about as good a working relationship as any executive-office team. After all, it is doubtful they had actually gone so far as to plan their tie choices (though the suit and shirt combination was pretty predictable); they just think that much alike.
At the same time, however, I have to say I’m surprised that no aide was sent scurrying for another option for one of the men. This was a staged moment, one that has a certain stand-alone significance and as a result may have a historical life beyond that day. And though I’m all for sartorial messaging and implicit signals via clothes, in this case I think the similarity was so striking, it actually served to distract from the moment at hand.