Titans of Tech Testify in Their Trust-Me Suits

Not for them, even, the flourishes of a pocket hankie or a lapel pin. The reference was, if anything, the men in the gray flannel suits of yore.

That they wore such suits at all was a nod to the mores of Washington, because in their natural environment, denizens of the digital world often see the garments as sartorial shackles that reflect old ways of thinking. But these witnesses’ outfits, in their straightforward styling, both separated the chief executives from their traditional camouflage, thus making them seem less subversively Other, and conveyed respect for the office before which the men were appearing.

All of the committee members wore conservative suits or jackets too, save Greg Steube, the Republican congressman of Florida, who modeled many shades of grape, and Jim Jordan, the Republican congressman from Ohio, who has made appearing in shirt sleeves a trademark. The better, he has said, to feel ready to rumble.

Indeed, judging by his undone cuffs, already turned back and poised to be rolled up, as well as his combative language (and tendency to keep forgetting to put his mask on), he was really ready this time. Though his opponents, sitting quietly in their on-screen version of “Hollywood Squares,” the Capitol version, seemed to be playing a different part.

After all, if you are trying to convince a group of lawmakers that the words they keep using to describe you — “dominant,” “power,” “billions,” “trillions” — are not nearly the whole story, you don’t want to just tell the story of how you are the embodiment of the American success story; of your humble beginnings and crazy dreams. You don’t want to just give voice to your concern for customers and users and small businesses. You want to channel Clark Kent of Smallville, rather than Superman.

Well, they wouldn’t look very good in tights, anyway.

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