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What's With Salazar's Hat? (And Bolo Tie!)

By Ed O'Keefe

Sen. Ken Salazar with President-elect Barack Obama, becomes the first cabinet appointment to don head gear during his announcement ceremony. (Photo by Reuters)

Admit it. You know you thought it when you saw it: "What's with Ken Salazar's cowboy hat?" Colorado's junior senator became the first Obama cabinet appointee to don headgear during his formal announcement ceremony. He joins New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson -- the commerce secretary-designate -- as the second appointee to regularly sport a bolo tie.

Salazar frequently wears the hat and bolo tie combo while conducting official business, campaigning or attending other events. (The Eye recalls seeing him in hat and bolo tie at the Democratic convention in Denver.) It's a visual demonstration of his Western roots, which he frequently plugs. He even recommended that the Denver Democratic convention begin with a cattle parade -- an idea nixed by organizers. (Darn!)

But here's the real question: Can Interior Department employees expect a change in dress code? Will there be bolo tie Fridays? Optional hat days?

As our In the Loop column reported in July, Interior has no dress code for its 80,000 employees and only asks that employees keep work attire "neat, clean, and in good condition," and "not provocative or offensive."

Will Salazar's hat and bolo tie prove too provocative for the office? We'll see!

UPDATE 2:34 p.m. ET: The Eye just heard back from Interior's communications director Tina Kreisher: “The dress code as I understand it states that you should dress appropriately for the position you’re in."

“I think that was more a Miss Manners question," Kreisher said later, also adding that “The new administration has the ability to set whatever codes or policies they choose to enact.”

Kreisher also said that Interior has a history with bolo ties, since former interior secretary Manuel Lujan Jr. wears a bolo tie in his official department portrait.

By Ed O'Keefe  | December 17, 2008; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Revolving Door, Workplace Issues  
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This is a NON-issue and a waste of news space. You Yankees are just jealous, I guess. Wish you were here in Texas!

Posted by: SpaceCity | December 17, 2008 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The hat is cool. It's his politics I don't like.

Posted by: GreggHarford | December 17, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Gentlemen do not wear hats indoors.

Posted by: Jaggedadze | December 17, 2008 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure all of the National Park Service rangers will be relieved to hear that the Dept. of Interior has no dress code for its employees and that they can now ditch the green and gray uniforms and hat.

Posted by: kjmadigan | December 17, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Ranchers wear hats everywhere. Farmers wear hats only at work. Someone needs to contact the prize winning Robin Givhan so she can trash again.

Posted by: gary4books | December 17, 2008 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Only an Easterner would question the hat. It's pretty commonplace out here in the West.

Posted by: blackhorde | December 17, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I've been living in the west for better than thirty years and I still have to laugh when I see these buffoons dressed in nice suits but with a cowboy hat...(which their mothers, apparently, never taught them to REMOVE when indoors).

-Idiots, all.

Posted by: kase | December 17, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

"Admit it. You know you thought it when you saw it".

No I didn't think it. Out west, when someone shows up in a suit and tie, that's when we think, "What's with the suit?". Smells like Beltway Bulls--t. Let it go.

Posted by: thebobbob | December 17, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post has a history of making fun of people who wear boots and hats. Lots of people wear western wear for its comfort and in some cases because they came from the west. I applaud Salazar for making his statement about coming from the west. I think the Post needs to get over equating people who wear boots and hats with hillbillies and frontier hicks.

Posted by: dave1011 | December 17, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Looks like a cowboy wanna-be. Aw, he and Obama have matching flag pins. Isn't that sweet....

Posted by: justhere | December 17, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

OHMYGOD! You mean there are "Other Parts of the United States" besides New York and California?
Who would have guessed?
Do you now understand why the Democratic Convention was held in the Mid-West and not one of the coasts? And that the RE-pubs only chose Minneapolis AFTER Denver was selected?
Do you really think Obama would have won without the Mid-West?
Where are you people from?
Where are your manners?
What's wrong with you?
Mr. Salazar grew up on a working ranch in Southern Colorado and this is what he wears to work.
Grow Up!
Take a vacation in the country in which you live!
Rediscover the United States of America!

Posted by: kdenton1 | December 17, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Alright, so to the Westerners, it is okay to wear a cowboy hat inside? I've got no issue with it outside, whether in jeans/chaps or in a suit, but what seems out of place is inside during a press conference.

Posted by: ah___ | December 17, 2008 4:33 PM | Report abuse

gary4books wrote, "Ranchers wear hats everywhere. Farmers wear hats only at work."

Sounds right. I interpret the outfit as an attempt, as a Democrat, to combat the presumption that he's opposed to the interests of ranchers. It certainly demonstrates that he's not opposed to all aspects of their culture.

Posted by: officermancuso | December 17, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Somebody in Baracks attention to details team slipped (or maybe not) in letting Salazar in in a hat. Just how many cows does he own?

But... since somebody seems to watch these things far more carefully than we know, was Salazar sending some coded message to agent Nick Fury? Or is the image detector working on the theory that, had george worn his hat rolled like that none of the political cartoonists might have noted his prominent ears.

Did he touch cloth, leather, skin, or was it skin leather cloth? Am I supposed to try to steal third, or am I supposed to try to provoke the pitcher to balk?

Or, was it just chilly in the room and the man's head was cold?

Posted by: ceflynline | December 17, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Fun story. It's going to be an interesting ride to see where "The Hat" takes us with Interior. Though a strong supporter of Raul Grijalva for this position, I would say that Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado has much to offer. Look for some serious coralling of solar energy from the man in the hat and hopefully some improvements in Western water policy that demonstrates respect for wild fisheries and healthy watersheds.

I am pleased that we all have learned more about Raul Grijalva and can now work to provide support to him in his chosen place--to remain Chair of House Natural Resources Committee (declining Chair of Ways and Means) in order to advocate for the health of our public lands.

Teamwork here is going to be the key.

Posted by: akmk | December 17, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Good gawd!! I'm from Texas, a native Texan no less, and I can tell you my mama would have never let anybody wear a hat "in the house." Presumably this press conference, and a lot of Salazar's other business appointments are conducted indoors?

Gimme a break -- in our neck of the woods we'd just say he was all HAT and no cattle. And, just between us, where I come from we tend to think that only sissies wear bolo ties . . . .

Posted by: ewkrause | December 17, 2008 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Real cowboy says all hat, no cattle............

Posted by: wesatch | December 17, 2008 5:51 PM | Report abuse

From a Colorado Native:

Boots and Hats are perfectly fine even worn inside. Especially if the occasion calls for full dress a good hat, bolo or other tie, and dress boots are fine. You need to take your hat off only in private residences and places of worship. He could have gone without the hat here but it makes a statement as much as anything else.

To the person who wondered how many cattle he owned, the answer was more than a few. He was a rancher in Alamosa and campaigned for almost every office in a beatup green pickup truck, and he had the hat then too. Plus you'll find in Alamosa that cowboy hats are still useful and practical.

I'm a fan of Salazar's appointment. He knows both the rancher side and the oil and gas side. He's a good pick, I just wish I weren't losing my senior senator! Still love Udall though, so he'll do.

Posted by: bhague | December 17, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

I thought that Bush and all the other hillbillies were leaving DC? Obama needs to set this clown straight on the subject of projecting a professional appearance.

Posted by: Dawny_Chambers | December 17, 2008 7:32 PM | Report abuse

The reasons why Ken Salazar wears a hat are pretty obvious if you live in Colorado (as he does). 1. People in Colorado wear cowboy hats because the sun here is unbeliveably bright, and cowboy hats work great to protect the face from burns and skin cancer. 2. Ken Salazar, his brother, Colorado US Representative John, and their many siblings are descendents of Mexican families that settled in Colorado some five generations ago, and dry farmed* onions in southern Colorado, where people wear cowboy hats for reason number 1. *Dry farming is the techinique of farming used along much of the marginal areas along the eastern plains of the Rocky Mountains, where basically, you pray for rain.

and reason 3. Ken Salazar is going bald, and a cowboy hat looks good on him.

I know it's hard to believe, but people here in Colorado where cowboy hats, and it's no stranger than wearing a coat and tie, in fact it seems a lot more normal.

Posted by: claritygraph | December 17, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

He's Interior! What do you want? Look how many straight laced dressers raped this country in the departing administration. Hundreds of thousands of square miles of outdoor land management he deals with. It's American as apple pie. What next, a beat-down on bow ties? Get to the issues and stop whining about the look. Will he make right the Teresa Chambers railroading from the Park Police for whistle blowing under Bush or the forced doctoring of agency reports and the theft of Native American money from trust funds? There are more serious thing to talk about. The department is in a mess and maybe he needs a horse to ride through the ruins.

Posted by: ernestoman | December 17, 2008 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Aye! Pinche cabrons! Is anyone from the west, perhaps even the southwest, what about the interior? Has anyone seen a mountain, ranch, perhaps even a hill?
Salazar wears his hat, he knows his job, and will certainly show his capabilites okay?
Is there a news shortage in MSM land or what?

Posted by: neec13 | December 17, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey, quit making fun of his hat. I like his hat. I used to like my hair too when I had more...LOL.

Posted by: Cowabunga1 | December 17, 2008 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Blagojevich's HAIR looks like a hat, and people are complaining about Salazar's? :-)

Seriously, I had an uncle who moved from Indiana (where my father's family had settled from NYC when my father and his brother were young) to Dallas in 1949. About 20 years later my father, uncle, and I were in NYC together and my father took my uncle to task for wearing his pearl-grey Stetson (outside) in Manhattan. By then Uncle Charlie had become so Texan (the Texan "immigrants" are the worst :-) that he objected to my father's criticism

Posted by: GWGOLDB | December 17, 2008 10:45 PM | Report abuse

I have no issue with Salazar's bolo tie. But gentlemen do not wear hats indoors. Members of my family are still midwestern farmers not ranchers (except for a few years an uncle unsuccessfully tried raising cattle).

If Salazar is touring our parks, farms, ranches, etc. I'd worry if he's wearing a button down shirt and/or tie.

I'd like to see him have friday hat days in DC and create some esprit de corps. My daughter worked in a national park for years and would like someone who appreciates nature not extraction industries.

Posted by: boscobobb | December 17, 2008 11:21 PM | Report abuse

What's with newspaper columnists referring to themselves in the third person (or by the name of their column, or by using the royal "we")? First Cilizza, now you. Geez, you want to talk about pretentious...

Posted by: entropy_happens | December 18, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

True Cowboys are gentlemen who do not wear their hats indoors.

I'm a native of Wyoming, and my mama would tan my hide if I presumed to wear my hat in the house.

I can only wonder if Mr. Salazar is insecure in his self-identity to ignore the "polite" culture of removing your hat.

The bolo tie is great!

Gregory Hawkins

Posted by: gregorymhawins | December 20, 2008 12:49 AM | Report abuse

I think it is fine if Sen. Salazar wants to wear a bolo tie.
However, wearing a hat inside any building is a big NO NO!!!
Amy Vanderbuilt's book of Complete Book of Etiquette, page 674
states "Young boys were taught always to remove their hats the minute they entered an elevator, someone's home or a restaurant."
Another thing - All military personnel are REQUIRED to remove their hat when entering any building. My deceased husband was a Naval officer and abided by this requirement throughout his life - both in military service and civilian life.
If the military personnel can do it, so can Sen. Salazar.
Not removing his hat within a building smacks of bad manners.
Did anyone see the foto of Salazar hugging Sen. Obama after being selected? I did, it it looked mighty awkward.

Posted by: ramerwe | December 20, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

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